1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

Drive-My and George Pich

RPM project car. Plate me UP Scotty! story and photos by George Pich. Blow the dust off and get to work…it’s time to bring that parked street bruiser in the garage back to life on the street and strip!

Being in business for yourself has its ups and downs. Let’s talk about the “ups”—all the perks of running your own business. You get to make your own hours, which are usually two to three times more than you would work at a regular job.

You get to write your own paycheck, which is usually two to three times less than you would earn at a regular job putting in two to three times less hours.

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild
1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

You get to write-off business expenses and assets against taxes that you might have to pay. Of course what most people don’t realize is that your business actually has to earn enough revenue to be able to afford those expenses and assets. Otherwise the business will go broke, fast!

You get to spend your spare time doing what you enjoy…whoops, no, wait a minute, that one doesn’t usually come into play in the real world, only in TV, Facebook and YouTube land. If you’re lucky, you might get some time or a day off every once in a while…see above to find out why.

Meet Scott Forbes. Scott owns Hitman Hotrods, a now sizeable hot rod and fabrication business that he started 12 years ago. His company builds hot rods—world-class hot rods—that have won numerous top-level awards. He loves cars of all kinds, but has a special passion for muscle cars and drag racing.

“I don’t remember a day in my life without cars,” tells Forbes. “I am a third-generation automotive technician. My grandfather was a GM-certified technician.

My uncles and father all followed in his footsteps in some form. My aunt married a stock car racer. My mother’s father owned a garage way back in the day, so cars are definitely in my blood.”

“My father was the hot-rodder though,” he added. “I grew up going to car shows, but the most influential times were scouring wrecking yards and visiting other friends who were building cars. This is where horsepower started to take hold of me. Dad built a series of small block Chevys in the late ’80s. You know the ones; 327 camel-hump heads, 2.02 valves, big dome pistons, and solid lifter cams. In a ’37 Chevrolet Pickup it ran 12.5s back in 1990. We eventually swapped it into the Acadian overnight to surprise the local street race scene with some unexpected ET.”

A number of years ago Scott drove and raced his 1966 Pontiac Acadian. We’re all saying about now, “What exactly is an Acadian?” In a nutshell, the Acadian was built by General Motors of Canada from 1962 to 1971 and was introduced so that Canadian Pontiac-Buick dealers would have a compact model to sell (based on the Chevy II) but with both Pontiac and Chevrolet styling cues.

“My best friend Cameron and Mack Mitchell’s Acadian were in Sand Hill, a small community near where I grew up,” explained Forbes. “I would go over to Mack’s and stare at his car for a half hour every visit to Cameron’s house. Mack’s Acadian was raced as a super stock through the ’70s and parked when he tubbed it in 78. It never moved again.

“But it was because of this childhood crush on that Acadian that I bought my car. So it was an honor when I was able to take Mack for a drive in it as a 12-second street car,” Forbes said with a smile.

It’s safe to say that horsepower was going to be part of Forbes his entire life. Fast forward to now, though, and just like so many other business owners, Scott’s dedication and drive to please his customers has taken away from him being able to pursue his own hobbies. In Scott’s case, he has not been able to wrench on his own car in the past 8 years. He has an exceptionally talented crew of professionals working at Hitman. The challenge is, as dedicated entrepreneurs, we’re often sold a bill of goods that includes a dream of watching our business run and thrive while we manage it and enjoy the benefits that success can bring. All too often though, that dream never comes true, despite our best efforts. The fact is that businesses grow, too, and with that growth comes more work and increased demands on everyone. It also means hiring the right people, and sometimes those people turn out to be the wrong people, and before long it all becomes a vicious circle.

With his business and a new family demanding more of his time, Forbes parked his Acadian eight years ago, but not before it became a solid 9-second real street car. He had raced in various Index classes and tried his hand at heads-up in the first versions of Plate Nitrous Street. By now, Hitman Hotrods was creating award-winning cars and even manufacturing their own hot rod chassis being shipped throughout the US and Canada, but something was missing.

“Car shows were work not play anymore,” explained Forbes. “Cool cars became something that I looked at differently. I would see all the work that needed to be done to bring the car up to my standard rather than the hobby it used to be for me.

I realized that my car was in pieces in the garage much like Mack Mitchell’s (with just a different set of circumstances behind it). With a thriving business in full swing and a growing family, it was now time to show my kids why I got into this industry and the creativity of building and fun in owning a cool car.”

Although when the car was parked, Forbes had decided to switch directions with its eventual return to duty, he quickly realized that he had a budget and a deep-set love of drag racing, neither of which would allow him to go in any other direction than street machine!

In last month’s issue of RPM, on page 97 there was a shot of Scott’s Acadian from the Plate Nitrous class he raced over 12 years ago and our caption briefly explained that the car would be returning to run the second coming of the budget-friendly Plate Nitrous class in 2017, “but with a few new mods”.

So join in as we follow along with the Acadian in RPM in an effort to hopefully inspire others to do the same thing. It’s a frantic 6-month journey leading from Scott’s decision to blow the dust off the Acadian and participate once again. In a short series of articles, we’ll show you what he did, how he did it and the parts he used to get things together quickly, efficiently and in a manner that will see the car run safely and hopefully competitively in a class made for guys just like him.

“So here we are putting the car back together with all the knowledge and resources we have now, eight years later,” continued Forbes. ”We are going to update the car and take advantage of today’s modern powertrains, as well. We do a lot of LS swaps, and as such, it only makes sense that we do the same to the Acadian.”

Forbes originally sourced an all-aluminum LS2 6.0L. However, it quickly became apparent that it would not fit the bill when he discovered the way plate nitrous kits have advanced. He offed the aluminum piece and sourced an iron block LQ4 6.0L and, with a very cool stroker kit from Eagle, a 408 will now be the modern motivation for this classic muscle car. This kit is designed specifically to run an LS2 with an LS3 cylinder head. The benefit is the large square bore head that flows 330CFM stock with giant valves!

For spray, Forbes chose the Induction Solutions Saturday Night Special 100-300HP plate kit for the class-allowed 4150 style carburetor to bolt-on the LS. An Edelbrock Part # 71900 Progressive Nitrous Controller will be used to accurately deliver the nitrous into the mix.

Suspension wise, the choice was made to stay leaf-sprung and use all Calvert Racing Suspensions products. Forbes will be installing Calvert SL-300CR Rear Spring Sliders with S220- 34 Split Mono Leafs for 62-67 Chevy II with 4 ¼-inch arch and 1-inch drop, and of course, a pair of their world-renowned Drag Profile 2-Hole Caltracs part # 2200. Also coming is a pair of Calvert’s trick 9-way adjustable rear shocks part # CR42133.

“I can’t wait to get behind the wheel again!” exclaimed Forbes. “It’s amazing, but looking forward to this has made me appreciate that doing something I enjoy is important.

I even have huge support at the shop, they tell me that this project has made me nicer to be around,” he added with a smile. “Well, the SMACKDOWN 1 event is July 28th, so it’s time to get back to work!” Join us next month as we catch up with “Mr. Scott” and his Hitman crew to learn more about that Eagle LS stroker engine kit, the Hughes Performance transmission parts being installed in the Glide along with the rest of the knuckle busting, thrashing and sleepless nights to come over the next 30 days!


Tuning process

1-4: Back in 2008 this is what the Acadian looked like. It was last raced in 2009. The best ET the car ran prior to being parked was 9.78 in the quarter-mile.

5 & 6: Getting frustrated with watching dust collect on the Acadian, in 2012 Scott started to have thoughts about going Pro Tour and moved forward with some mods. The car might yet see these wheels, just a bit later in its life.

7: Unfortunately life got in the way of hobbies and the car sat right here until January 2017. The very first parts to arrive, a CVR Powerhouse billet 200- amp alternator and CVR 1.9hp gear reduction LS starter are shown sitting on the hood. By the way, the 14.36 on the windows was his employees ribbing him. He kept it on, like the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

8 & 9: Scott and his crew got to work on the car afterhours, on weekends and whenever they could. Here, Dave Newberry gets to work welding up the front end. Factory framerails were replaced and the guys at Hitman fabbed up the crossmember and the rest of what you see here. Forbes says, “to be perfectly honest, Dave and Jeff Wybrow who have been helping get the car out are probably my biggest source of motivation.”

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

10: Everyone who has a car that has been mothballed to the garage has one of these….a shelf full of parts for it!

11: Okay, here is where the “average guy upgrades” take a bit of a twist. But look at it this way, why would you buy things that you make for a living. Not many of us are capable of making proper geometry control arms and custom baffled aluminum fuel tanks, but maybe we can do bodywork and paint, motors, transmissions etc. In the end it is a trade-off, build whatever you can in order to save money for the parts and services you need to buy.

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

12 & 13: Hitman made the fan mount to hold the dual SPAL fans, as well.

14 & 15: The custom Hitman fuel tank will hold 16 gallons and with internal baffling will allow the car to be run on as little as three gallons during a race. It is designed to run an internal Aeromotive fuel pump for cooling and noise reduction.

16 & 17: Here, Scott and Dave take delivery of the junkyard LS2 iron motor advertised as a 120,000-mile piece, which the guys figure was a sales pitch and should have been more like 420,000. Scott’s face says it all: “We may as well just tear it down right here.”

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

18: This boneyard Powerglide transmission will be the core for the self-rebuilt and modified unit sitting in the Acadian on race day. Scott will be using Hughes Performance components for the rebuild.

19 & 20: Is that a bit of a smile? May was a good month, as the crew wrapped up the bulk of the front fabrication work and inched the car evercloser to roller status.

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

21: The rear suspension is all Calvert Racing and even includes their proprietary 9-way adjustable CR series rear shocks (not shown).

22-24: Fitting everything in. With the mock-up block in place, Forbes and his crew fab and fit headers, collectors and the steering shaft.

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

1966 Pontiac Acadian Canso Sport Deluxe tuning rebuild

25: SPRAY! An Inductions Solutions Saturday Night Special 4150 style plate kit good for 100 to 300 hp was ordered… this is not an ordinary out-of-the box nitrous kit and we’ll talk more about why next month.

26: Parts for the Eagle stroker kit. What is trick about this kit is that it allows you to run an LS2 with LS3 cylinder heads that flow 330CFM!

27: May 26th, Forbes participated in a large local high school car show just blocks from his home. The car in progress garnered a lot of attention.


Calvert Racing www.calvertracing.com 661.728.9600

CVR High Performance www.cvrproducts.com

Eagle Specialty Products www.eaglerod.com 662.796.7373

Edelbrock www.edelbrock.com 310.781.2222

Hughes Performance www.hugesperformance.com 602.257.9591

Induction Solutions www.inductionsolutions.com 352.593.5900

SPAL Automotive USA www.spalusa.com 800.345.0327


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