Progress !!

So, I don’t have pictures yet but I was talking with Tony @ Full Circle Auto Body last Friday.  They are test fitting the new body panels to the Chevelle body skeleton, including the new roof skin (the entire roof panel is one large piece of metal). 

No surprise I guess that he’s finding the 40+ year old body of my car is definitely showing it’s age.  The roof skin aligned perfectly across the front (above the windshield) but at the back of the car the roof skin was off by 3/4 of an inch.  That’s a huge margin when you’re doing bodywork. 

The new roofskin was removed and measured and it was perfect.  It seems at some point in the past the car took a passenger side rear hit that was strong enough to knock the entire rear end over by 3/4 of an inch.  Fortunately Tony’s got the tools necessary to fix it so the body is now straight and the roof skin fits like a glove.  🙂

Hopefully I will have some more pictures up on a few days.  Right now Tony is working to acid wash the car’s internal skeleton so he can zinc primer it (should never rust again!) and then the body panels get welded up!

Hope everyone had a great weekend… I spend mine wondering about color choices for the paint that’s coming up…


So what is your favorite car?

Hey everyone… as I predicted it’s a little slow on updates for the car right now so I thought I would turn the tables and ask you a question!  If you’ve read any part of this blog then you know by now that the Chevelle (any year, really) is one of, if not my absolutely favorite car.  Sure, I love Corvettes, Aston-Martins, etc.  There’s just something primal about a Chevelle in my book.

So, that said, what is YOUR favorite car?  It can be modern or ancient, classic sports car or muscle car.  It can be anything but here’s the trick… you have to explain why it’s your favorite in your reply.  🙂

Click on the cloud icon in the upper right hand corner of this post to read what others have left and to let us know your choice.  This should be fun…

Hopefully we’ll be back in the swing of updates and pictures in the next few days… and thanks again for taking the time to visit our site!


A Quiet Time For Updates, So I Have a Question For You

Hello everyone!
We’re entering a period where I probably won’t have updates for a few days as the teams are heads down working on certain items.  I thought I would take this time to thank you all for showing interest in our project… according to my blog host I have had visitors from the US, UK, Norway and even Japan!  I’m not listing all of the countries but I thought those last two might be entertaining to think about for a moment!

Here’s the aforementioned question I have for you:   What would you like to see in future posts?

If you click on the Cloud icon in the upper right hand corner of this posting (just to the right of this blog post’s main title) you can leave your comments and suggestions, or you can read what others have left and perhaps reply to them.

I’d love any feedback you might have!  I wanted this site to be a documentary of sorts on what it took to get my car from Point A to Point Done, but also I was hoping I could lay the foundations for others who are interested in doing the same thing with their classic muscle car.  Am I hitting those targets or am I shooting wide?

Thanks again…  we should have some pictures ready for next week’s posts!

-john and dina


Some High-Resolution Pictures of the Car

Hey everyone… so I stopped by Full Circle Auto Body today and took some high-resolution pictures of the car.  Not much new has been done since my last post about them cutting all the rusty panels off, but in that blog post the pictures were relatively low res.  Here’s a few you can zoom in on and really see the carnage!   🙂  As usual, clicking on the thumbnail pics will take you to the high res versions… just click the back arrow button to return to this page.

And here’s one last picture… no carnage here, just yummy new shiny chrome bumpers!

A Little More Chevy Orange…

So we have a few new engine shots this morning.  You’ll notice the new Holley LS engine transplant-specific oil pan is now bolted up, along with the valve covers (the valvetrain is done!) and the timing chain cover.  Sean will be adding some more bits to the block here shortly but we will keep some of the stuff off (exhaust manifolds for example) until the LQ4 is actually bolted to the car, that way we have maximum clearance for hoisting the beast into the engine bay.  I’m guessing the 4L60E build-up will start shortly.

The engine / transmission work is moving a little slower on purpose since the bodywork was a few weeks late in starting.

A side-story about a different Chevelle…

If you’ve read the back-story to my Chevelle project here on the blog you know I’ve had this particular vehicle since my high schools days.  In one or two of the posts I’ve mentioned that my original plan to complete this Chevelle was “more complicated”… but I never really explained that comment.  Until now.

My original plan had to do with me buying a second ’71 Chevelle, from California off eBay Motors back in December, 2009. Affectionately known as Camille, I bought it because the body shell was very (extremely) straight… virtually no rust except some small areas above the wheel wells.  Patch panels at best and the car would be done.  It came with a clean California VIN / Title… it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Until I realized something… If I was going to do this, I would be “giving up” the actual car I bought in high school.. the car I’ve been keeping all these years.  Even the VIN would be different (assuming I didn’t play any hinky games and try to switch the VIN #’s, which of course would be illegal).  Why in the world had I kept my original car for 25+ years if I was so willing to just throw it away?

Yeah, I know.  Makes me sound soft and sentimental.  But I just couldn’t do it.  I wanted to finish MY Chevelle, not make some franken-car with no history… no soul.

So driving to work one day, mulling over the various pieces in play (much like a chess board, I must say), a thought occurred.  Instead of trying to get cute and do some kind of weird VIN swap, or trying to take individual body panels off the California car and put in my car, I would simply sell the California car and get as much as I could from it. I would use that money to help fund all of the body sheetmetal I would need to purchase to actually completely MY Chevelle.  So I did.  And it’s the reason why I’m posting to this blog and you’re reading my words.

Reason I’m telling you all of this is simple:  Yesterday afternoon the car transport truck arrived to pick up Camille and take her to her new owner, Greg in Florida.  I sold her on eBay Motors a few weeks ago and it took him a while to arrange transport.  I snapped a bunch of pictures of Camille as she was being packed up for her cross-country venture.  I’ll post them later this afternoon.

SO… my best wishes and good mojo go out to Greg in Florida.  He says he’s been saving for years to buy a car like this so he can rebuild it himself in the garage.  I think it will take him a while to finish Camille (or whatever name she is rechristened with) but I have no doubt he will do a stellar job.  After all, he’s got the muscle car bug, just like me.  I’m betting he won’t be waiting 25 years though.  🙂

UPDATE 7:50 PM – Here are the pictures:

And by this afternoon she was looking pretty stripped…

So the post from earlier today had pictures I took at around 9:30 AM.  As you can see by the pictures in this post, by this afternoon Tony @ Full Circle had indeed whipped out the SawzAll and went a little medieval on the Chevelle’s quarter panels and roof.  NICE!  I love seeing progress!

The last picture in the bunch below might see a little strange….    you’re looking at the underside of the roof skin (including that blasted sunroof!) after the roof’s been cut off the car.

She’s looking pretty sad at the moment…

I stopped by Full Circle Auto Body this morning and snapped a few pictures of the car.  She’s looking pretty sad right now… as part of the strip-down process the doors and trunklid are off and it really makes the car look like she’s been abandoned.  The shiny wheels have already been transferred to the new chassis so these rims are just body shop knock-offs to push the car around during reconstruction and paint.

Here’s some pictures… click on each one to see a bigger view and then press the back button on your browser to return.

The New Frame is Done!

Hey all… so I stopped by M&M yesterday (Friday) and they’re done hanging all of the suspension on the new boxed powdercoated frame.  I’m working to de-res some pictures but I think I can get one to fit on this blog entry….

Those are the Boyd Coddington Smoothie II’s from the Chevelle, along with the 4-wheel Baer disc brakes and the new P-S-T suspension parts!


So, about that new engine plan…

Since making the decision back in December, 2011 that I wanted to go the LS engine route for the Chevelle, I have been locked into a seemingly constant stream of information, opinions, suggestions and recommendations.   I spent HOURS on the forums, reading about as many Chevelle LS engine transplants as I could find, learning more and more with each example.

My first plan was to go with a GenIV 5.3 liter truck engine… most likely a LY5 or L33 engine.  Over the past few years, with the price of the 6.0 and 6.2 liter engines rising in the used market, the 5.3’s started ending up in more and more muscle cars.  I was going to back this thing with a 4L65E 4-speed transmission.

Then enter four or five WEEKS of constant back-and-forth…   GenIV or GenIII?  Do I keep the truck intake to save some money but suffer the less-than-appealing looks under the hood?  Should I abandon the 5.3 liter route and step up to a 6.0?  Back and forth.   Several times over.

So at this point (4/6) I now own a used 6.0 liter LQ4 iron block / aluminum head truck engine.  Top Gear will be slamming an LS6 cam and intake setup on the engine and we’re going with the GMPP Corvette accessory drive kit, augmented with a Kwik A/C compressor mounting bracket and Sanden 508 compressor.  The compressor swap-out (the GMPP kit comes with the Corvette compressor) is required because the Corvette compressor is NOT compatible with my Vintage Air aftermarket A/C kit.  My thanks to Wayne at Kwik and the folks and Pace Performance for helping me locate some crazy GM (and non-GM) part #’s!  Slam on a Holley LS conversion oil pan, a set of 2012 Camaro exhaust manifolds (don’t want to go down the header route right now)… and you will have (more or less) the engine / trans plan.  Since I did buy the engine, I guess I can’t change my mind, right?   🙂

Top Gear will also assemble my 4L60E transmission and they will be handling all of the installation work, wiring harnesses and ECM programming.  Our target is 415-425 flywheel HP in an attempt to keep gas mileage reasonable (Renovatio will be my daily driver, after all!)

The Story of Renovatio

Welcome to my blog about a journey to rebuild my 1971 Chevelle, a car I’ve owned for more than 25 years.  I bought this car in 1985, during my junior year of high school back in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

To the eyes of a 16 year old, the car was simply awesome.  It represented freedom but with an attitude.

Of course, I had no idea how much rust was hidden under the layers (and layers) of Bondo and lousy paint.  I’d come to learn all of that later, trust me…

So, 25 years after that, here I am, working to finally complete the job.