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Owner gets back lost 1970 Chevelle and makes it better!

By Scotty Lachenauer, HOT ROD

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After letting his prized Chevelle go, it comes home for a major overhaul

The Bowtie bug bit William "Bill" Brett at an early age. By the time he was in high school, young Bill followed his affliction and sourced out a needy Chevy to use as a basis for a father/son project. It didn't take long for a rebuildable '70 Chevelle to be on the other end of a tow hook, heading straight for the family's garage.

The eager 16-year-old knew what he needed from the start. "I wanted to build a beefed-up A-body that would not only get me back and forth to work and school, but also be able to rip up the back skins if need be," says Bill. And "need be" was certainly a code phrase for "necessity" in his eyes. So, his $250 prize was wheeled into the workspace and the metamorphosis started.

Luckily for Bill and his dad, the car had good bones. The original Cranberry Red/black gut car still had some passable parts, like a bulletproof 12-bolt out back stuffed with 4.10 gears. The body was a different story. A lot of the sheetmetal was replaced on the Chevy, including the hood, fenders, trunk, and quarters before finishing the bodywork and giving the Chevy a new black skin "We then built a stout 350 small-block and added an M22 Rock Crusher to the mix," says Bill. The project carried on for over six years under Bill's possession while being driveable for most of that time.

However, in 1994, things changed when Bill entered the Pennsylvania State Police Academy. With that huge lifestyle shift came some necessary changes. Bill realized that, unfortunately, he had to sell his prized Chevy to help fund his journey forward into the world of law enforcement.

Once Bill graduated the academy, he started working as a Pennsylvania State Trooper out of a barracks in eastern Pennsylvania. Soon after that he got married and started a family. The chance of having an "extra" fun car was now out of the question for the foreseeable future while Bill obtained more appropriate "family friendly" rides for his garage.

In 2009, things changed again and Bill was finally able to scratch that two-decade itch and bought a usable Nova to play with. Soon after that purchase, the Nova left the property and a cool Chevelle appeared in the family driveway. That was all in good measure, but what Bill really wanted was his old, trusty Chevelle back. Luckily for him that opportunity was about to happen.

A Sight for Sore EyesIn 2010, Bill received a tip that his original Chevelle was in a body shop near his home. "The guy didn't want to sell it immediately, but we kept in touch," says Bill. It was in surprisingly good shape, but missing the engine and trans, and more importantly, the title. The following year the owner agreed to sell Bill the car and, luckily, he found the original title in the hands of the previous owner's ex-wife. Once the Chevelle was back at home, it was put in storage while a game plan was brewed.

In 2012, the Chevelle was wheeled into the garage, stripped down, and put on a rotisserie for metalwork. Once it was sandblasted, Bill didn't need to hear the bad news; it was right there in front of his eyes. "It was covered in rot," says Bill. He decided to take a course in body repair at a local vocational school while he cut away at the body. Soon, he had replaced the firewall, floors, cowl, and front-end pieces, while perfecting his newly learned welding techniques.

Soon, the frame was out being powdercoated, after being boxed and fabbed to handle a Ford 9-inch rear and coilovers. He decided to make room for some big meats out back so a mini-tub kit was installed, along with replacing the inner and outer wheelwells, trunk pan, and full quarter-panels. For a custom touch, a '70 El Camino front bumper with switch-back turn signals was sourced and added to the build. The bills started to pile up so Bill took a break before finishing the car. Unfortunately, during that time his dad passed away, which shut down work on the car for the foreseeable future.

After some time off, Bill finished the bodywork and took another class at the vocational school, this time for automotive painting. Then he got a big break. "My friend Dave worked for Sherwin-Williams and I was lucky enough to be able to use their facility (and paint) to refinish the car," says Bill. However, due to his friend's retirement the following year, he had to finish the doors, trunk lid, and hood at home. Nevertheless, the Tuxedo Black paint came out exceptionally well, and Bill even had his dad's "My Sin" logo from his hot rod emblazoned on the trunk.

Next, the behemoth 598-inch big-block from Tri Star Engines out of Baldwin, Wisconsin, was installed in the engine bay. It's built with a Dart Big M block, fully forged Scat rotating assembly, Howards valvetrain, and Dart Pro1 cylinder heads. This Dominator-fed build is backed by a TREMEC T-56 Tranzilla transmission coupled to a Ram clutch, which feeds power back to the aforementioned Ford 9-inch rear built by Spraker Racing out of Mooresville, North Carolina. It's loaded with 3.70 gears and spin Detroit Locker 35-spline axles. Ceramic-coated 2-inch primary American Racing headers get rid of the spent gasses. Altogether, this massive mill pumps out a hefty 850 hp at the flywheel.

The chassis was built up using a Speedtech Road Assault front suspension kit with Viking adjustable coilovers. Out back, UMI supplied the adjustable suspension components to dial the ride in just right. For stopping power, Bill chose Wilwood 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front, installed on Corvette hubs. Out back, similar-sized rotors are clamped by four-piston calipers. For a little bling, Bill decided to let Billet Specialties supply the wheels. He chose the Sprint Concave Deep model, 19x9 front and 19x12 rear, to fill the wheelwells. They are shod in Hankook Ventus V12 evo2 rubber: 245/40ZR19 and 325/30ZR19, respectively.

Bill needed help finishing up the build so he took the Chevelle to Anderhart Speed in nearby Ivyland, Pennsylvania. There, proprietor John Lenhart helped by finishing up some of the important pieces to this muscle car puzzle. Further fabrication was completed, the exhaust fabricated, and the electrical issues were figured out. The interior came together as well. TMI seats were added, along with a Paul Atkins custom dashboard, Classic Instrument gauges, and a Kenwood DDX374BT stereo. A Restomod Air Haymaker II custom A/C unit keeps the climate in check inside the cockpit.

Once the interior was finished, Bill and John continued to tweak the car. More electrical work was needed as well as getting the fuel delivery to work just right. By the summer of 2018, the Chevelle was back on the road and performing the way it should. It was a long road, but Bill didn't cheap-out on any of the work, which, in the long run, makes for a much better final product.

Like any great build, Bill has a laundry list of people to thank, which starts with Dave Ketner, who helped him out with plenty of the bodywork process, along with Ron, Dan, and Terry from Middle Bucks County Vocational Tech School who helped out in the early stages of the tedious bodywork. Also, Bill thanks Bill Hughes of Tri Star, Tony from ABC Performance, Steve from Rockland Standard Gear, and Jen and Emily for help with the interior. A final shout-out goes to both John Lenhart at Anderhart Speed for helping close out the finishing touches on this killer Chevelle, and wife, Christine, for her unwavering support during the build.


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Autos News: Owner gets back lost 1970 Chevelle and makes it better!
Owner gets back lost 1970 Chevelle and makes it better!
Autos News
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