More Pictures!

Hi everyone!

So Sean & Team are making great progress.  Here’s another quick picture update before Christmas arrives!

Fuel Tank
And here’s where we are on the tank.  Looking Good!

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Engine Accessory Drive Install
Here’s the latest picture of the front of the engine, with the accessory drive installed.  Some clearance issues still remain but for the most part we’re pretty close to done on the front engine assembly.


So here’s a sneak peak of the new GenIV Vintage Air system that’s about to get installed…


Spaghetti Anyone?
And with so many electronics packages getting installed, plus the new Vintage Air system, here’s a shot of the Chevelle cabin.  Fun, huh?



This might be the final update for 2013…  if so, I’d like to thank all of you for visitng this blog… I am truly stunned at how many countries are represented by you all…   !

-john and dina



On To The NEXT Phase!

So…  it’s been a long time coming but today the Chevelle left Full Circle Auto Body for the first time since April, 2012.  Tony and the crew did some final work yesterday afternoon and early this morning…  he shot more RhinoLiner on the very lower rocker panel (the bottom 1/2 inch or so) to help protect the car from rock chips (since we eliminated the factory chrome rocker covers), then some last minute hood alignment fixes and she was DONE.  By noon Tony had trailered the Chevelle over to John and M&M Automotive… more about that later though… let’s get to some pictures!

These shots were taking at M&M after Tony delivered the car…

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With John now taking over, his list is much shorter than what Tony faced, but they’re still extremely important:
1) Install the new American Autowire full car wiring kit
2) Install the new stainless steel brake lines
3) Install the previous hydraboost brake system (once Tony is finished painting the master)
4) Reconnect the steering column to the steering pump
5) Tighten up the suspension parts (now that the body has been re-installed on the frame)

These steps are critical because when the car heads off next to get the engine and trans installed, I want it drivable afterward (albeit not finished…)

And even though Tony has delivered the car, there’s still a few small items left…  I am picking up the chrome drip rail kits and the chrome wheel opening molding kits tomorrow from Restoration-Performance Center in Tempe, AZ.   Tony plans to drop by M&M and spend a few minutes installing these last chrome shiny-bits!

As I wrap up this post, I’d like to finish with a few words regarding Tony and Lisa, and Full Circle Auto Body.  When I first approached Tony with this crazy idea of finishing my Chevelle, I quickly realized I had picked the right place to work with.  Tony got it… he understood that I had a vision but needed him to make it real.  At every step he kept me involved in the process… if there is anything wrong with the car coming out of Tony’s shop, I’m equally as guilty in letting it happen.

I CANNOT recommend Full Circle Auto Body enough…  if you have a project car and you’re looking for that kind of shop that takes their time (but in the BEST possible way) to make your ideas and dreams a reality, give them a call… you won’t be disappointed!

And now we’re moving on to the next phase… stay tuned!



Only a Few Days Left…

Hey everyone…  so, before I get to the status update I’d like to send everyone our hopes for a quiet, peaceful and enjoyable holiday season!

Now, to the fun stuff!

This past week has been a whirlwind of final assembly on the Chevelle.  First up is the installation of a new windshield and back glass.  Tony knows a shop that does a modern install job with these classic cars to make sure there are no water leaks and most important, a tight fit with the new chrome window molding.

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And in those pictures you can see where we are on the paint job…  YEP, the wet sanding and buffing is done!  Tony is planning to lay down a deep wax job on the paint before the end of next week and that will mark the final work on the paint.  In these next few pictures one of Tony’s guys is working to complete the front clip with the new grille, the headlights, side lights, bumper, etc.

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Not too shabby, eh?

This next batch is a walk-around of the car, showing various angles of the car.

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Yep, that last picture was taken by Dina as Tony was explaining to me what work they did on the interior package tray before the new glass was installed.

In my last post I mentioned I had a surprise for you regarding the trunk lid… well, here are pictures of Tony executing an idea I had while sitting at a red light over a year ago…

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Yep… I decided in my quest for a cleaner, more modern look to the car that I would not be replacing the original nameplates and insignias after the paint was done.  Instead, I had this crazy idea while sitting at a red light behind a Chevy Avalanche.  I was daydreaming and realized if you rearrange the letters in “AVALANCHE” you can spell CHEVELLE (well, if you buy two sets of letters).  So I did… I went to one of the Chevy service departments and bought them.  When I arranged the letters on the kitchen counter the first time, I knew I had a winner on my hands.  The kicker is in the last picture above…  on the passenger side of the trunk lid, I had Tony install an “SS” badge straight from the latest 5th generation Camaro SS trunklid.  I feel this is a clean and simple way to put the name back on the car but with a modern, “official” look since the letters are genuine GM parts.  I can honestly say I have never seen this done (and I subscribe to a LOT of muscle car mags!)  Hope you like it!

SO…  next week is Christmas here in the States.  Tony is taking a few days off but the BIG surprise for me was what happens after Christmas… Tony will be delivering the car this coming Thursday to M&M Automotive where John will be installing new stainless steel brake lines, a new American Autowire complete wiring kit, and some other minor adjustments and tweaks.  We’re literally one or two work-days away from Tony’s work being 100% done!  That means the car could be off to Top Gear Motorsports by mid-January for the new engine and transmission install!

So, to wrap up…  Dina and I wish you all a great holiday seasons and our sincere thanks for following our Chevelle story this year!  We’re hoping to have the car back by the end of February essentially complete minus the interior so we have a few more months of updates ’till that point… stay tuned for more in 2013!


The Color Sanding Has Begun!

Stopped by Full Circle today at lunch to drop off some more parts for Tony and here’s what I found!

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The color/wet sanding has begun!  This is the final step before the paint job is officially completed… all that remains at that point is the installation of the brand new windshield and rear glass, the installation of the all the chrome trim and of course the final installation of the front/back chrome bumpers, the front grille / headlights, and the new sport mirrors!  Wait ’till you see what I have planned for the “CHEVELLE” nameplate on the rear trunklid!   🙂

Some More Assembly Progress on the Chevelle

Hello everyone!  Again, it’s been a while since my last update but I was able to snap some new pics of the car this morning…  more progress on the final assembly!  (click on each picture to see the full-resolution images)
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The hood and trunk lid are back on the car, with the edges taped off to protect the paint during final alignment and tweaking.  The trunk lid is “done”… aligned, tape removed and the new rubber weatherstripping now installed, but the new rear bumper is just basically hanging there, waiting to be aligned with the lower valence panel (not shown).

The hood is mounted but until the rest of the front clip gets assembled, the hood won’t be final.  It’s the last piece to get aligned and signed off.

Tony offered to grab a wet rag and wipe down the Arizona dust and grime on the hood and trunk before I took the pictures so you can see what it will look like (more or less) when it’s done.  He’s hoping to have the final wet sanding done by mid-next week.  All in all I could have the car back from Tony by first week in January.  🙂

More Progress On The Body

Happy Friday to everyone!

So, we’re nearing the end of the body work on the Chevelle.  In talking with Tony, we probably have one or two more weeks and then she’s done and ready to move on to the next phase.  I snapped some more update pictures for you…


Here’s the car, body now secured to the new frame.  These are much better than the ones from my previous blog post since the car was briefly outdoors (As usual, click on each one to see the full-size image):


So now the body is on the new frame, Tony’s next step was to squirt more blue paint on the secondary parts… some trim items, my new sport mirrors, the fenders, etc.  Here’s some pictures of those goodies:


So with the various pieces now being painted and the body itself entering the final phases, it’s time to start noticing small items appearing, such as the brand new, shiny rear bumper!


In all of this most recent pictures the body is clearly not “done” from a paint and finish perspective… it’s obviously dirty (Thanks Phoenix sandstorms!) but the real issue is that Tony and his crew haven’t done the final wet/color sanding of the clear coat that is sprayed on top of the raw paint.  This is usually the last step in the process and involves copious amounts of water and VERY fine grit sandpaper… you essentially pour water over the clear coat and lightly sand the very top layers until you get a nice, smooth surface.  It is this final step that gives a show car it’s amazing brilliance… even depth… of color.  Because it is so labor intensive, auto manufacturers don’t do this step since it would dramatically slow their production lines.

So right now you’re probably wondering why I’m explaining this to you.  Simple, really… I have a picture that shows the dramatic difference in quality between a body panel that HAS been wet/color sanded versus one that hasn’t yet had the treatment.  To see what I’m talking about, compare my reflected image on the LEFT side of the door jamb versus the reflected image on the RIGHT side of the door jamb.  The right side has been wet sanded prior to having the new door handles installed, while the left side is still in raw clear coat.  On the right side you can see noticeable increases in detail of my reflection but also notice the detail in the brick wall behind me.  The entire car will look like the right side after Tony and his crew wet sand the entire body (trunk, hood, fenders, etc.).  Pretty cool, huh?


Another Update – We Have (a little) Paint!

As the headline implies, there is fresh, sparkling LeMans Blue paint on the Chevelle!  Of course, as of this morning (6/28), that paint only resided on the underside of the trunklid and the trunk jambs… but hey, IT’S PAINT!   🙂

First up is a batch of pictures showing the car in primer… it’s been put through one round of block sanding at this point with only a small handful of low spots identified.  The team is working on the car today and tomorrow to get those built up (more primer, NOT filler) and worked to a mirror smooth finish.  If you get the feeling the pictures have a slightly blue tint… well, you’re partially right.  The primer has been mixed with a blue tone to provide color-specifc layers under the final LeMans blue paint.  When I arrived this morning I could see the car but from a distance… and my heart sank because for a brief second I thought the car had been painted a light powder blue.   Yep, it’s only the primer!

Here are a few pictures where I was trying to capture the real LeMans blue paint.  The underside of the trunklid is done but unfortunately it’s in the shade so it just looks black.  The blue paint has a few layers of desert dust and dirt so it looks bad… Tony watered down the areas later and the sparkling blue popped right now.  I CANNOT wait to see the entire car in this shade!  Make sure you click on the pictures to see the full-size zoomed editions…

The last picture above is the best to show the paint but you will also notice that the trunk (inside) is still dirty and rusty.  Have no fear…. once the paint is laid down that all will be acid washed, sealed and shot with Rhino Liner to protect against any future rust.  We are going to layer the bottom of the body and the interior floor surfaces with Rhino Liner as well, for heat and noise blocking but also for additional rust protection.

Regarding next steps…  if the schedule works out I will join Tony this coming Saturday to help him lay out the stripes on the hood and trunklid, and if time permits, Tony might actually lay down the paint for the stripes that day.  Once the stripes dry and cure, the rest of the body gets shot with LeMans blue.  By next Friday (7/6) the entire car MIGHT be in paint!

Stay tuned… things are moving fast now!


By kretzj Posted in Body

UPDATE – She’s Starting to Look Like a Car Again!

Stopped by Full Circle Auto Body this morning and snapped some surprise pictures…   we have new sheetmetal hanging on the car!  The new stuff isn’t welded on yet, rather Tony and crew are test fitting every panel to make sure they are aligned.  There’s one picture from inside the trunk where you can see how the new stuff is clamped down in place.

Tony did say that they’ve figured that the car was hit in the rear end at some point in it’s life and it was a good hit.  The rear end of the body will need to get pulled outward by about an inche to align with the new sheetmetal.  This is why you take a project this far gone to the professionals… it’s not like I would have the heavy-duty alignment hardware he’s got at the shop!

Take a look through the pictures… the last one shows the engine that I will be selling along with the attached 700R4 4-speed automatic transmission and the current frame.   Look beyond the dirt and grime… it’s a GM ZZ4 350 crate motor good for 355 HP.  Know anyone in the market for a solid low-mileage drivetrain?


More Pics of the Body

Hey everyone… I did another drive-by on Full Circle Auto Body this morning on the way into work.  Tony hasn’t been able to make as much progress so far as we had predicted but I snapped a few more shots of the stripped carcass.  The car is down off the straightening jig so it was easier to take some decent pics with my iPad to show the real damage a SawzAll can do in the right hands!


Also, in talking with Sean @ Top Gear Motorsports, the engine is just about done as far as it can go before we get it installed in the car.  That means right now the engine does NOT have the intake manifold, front drive accessories or exhaust manifolds.  Sean should have started building the 4L60 for me by now but with the bodywork taking longer than originally planned there’s no rush on their part… the engine/transmission will be done long before the body will be.

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 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.