In late 2011, I decided it was time to take a run at finally finishing the Chevelle. I had been saving money for years, writing my detailed gameplan:
As you may have seen from some of the old pictures of my Chevelle, the body was… um… in bad shape. The passenger rear quarter was completely wrecked and needed replacement. The guy I bought the car from in 1985 had installed an aftermarket sunroof. That was okay when I was growing up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the summertime high temps might reach the low 90’s, but when I moved to Phoenix I realized that sunroof was simply a magnifying glass for the summertime 117 degree sun. The sunroof had to go, but sectioning a new piece of metal into that gaping hole would be tough since the roof skin metal is thin and I had no plans to install a vinyl top (and potentially hide some of the rough metalwork)… so a completely new roof skin would be necessary as well. The driver side rear quarter will probably need to be replaced as well as some minor patches on the floorpan inside the cabin. Add a new hood, trunk lid, both new front fenders, radiator support and perhaps some replacement doors and you have the body plan. You’re probably catching on at this point… other than the underlying skeletal structure, most visible sheetmetal will be new.
If you’re wondering about paint and final finishing touches… well, so am I to a certain degree. I have always loved the LeMans Blue from the 2004 Corvette, combined with the two-tone Shale interior color from the 2004 Corvette Commemorative Edition. While I’m not 100% sure right now, I believe this is the path I will take (click on thumbnail image to see full-size picture):
That said, I also love the Jewel Red from our 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ/RS. I could paint the Chevelle in that red with silver stripes, then have Tony @ Full Circle apply the same stripes to the Cruze… 🙂
And lastly, my wife located two sport mirrors for my birthday last year so they will be painted body color as well… whatever color that ends up being!
Back in 2009 I lucked out and found an eBay listing for a new Chevelle frame. I knew the original frame under the Chevelle had been tweaked in the past so a replacement frame seemed a good idea. I clicked “Buy Me Now” without having any sort of plan and guessed I would figure it out as I went along. The GREAT news? The new frame actually came from a convertible so it was fully boxed instead of the standard coupe C-channel frame sections. This was an awesome find since this new frame would provide my coupe some extra structural firmness.
UPDATE 4/7/2012 – The new frame has been straightened and powdercoated by Full Circle Auto Body then shipped over to John @ M&M, and now he is completed his work of hanging the 10-bolt rear end, all of the new P-S-T suspension parts and the brakes/wheels from the Chevelle. The New Chassis is DONE! Check out the picture on the Blog page!
While the ZZ4 absolutely rocked, I (eventually) made up my mind that I wanted to go fuel injected. I researched retrofit kits that would have brought fuel injection to the ZZ4 but while these kits are better than carb (for cold engine startups, throttle response, MPG, etc.)… I decided I wanted to go whole-hog and jump into an LS-engine transplant effort, backed with a 4L60E or 4L65E 4-speed automatic transmission. The existing warmed-over 10-bolt Posi rear end will be retained but the gear ratio might be eased down to 3.23 from the current 3.55 (for the sake of better gas mileage)
Of course, deciding to go with the LS engine path simply means you now have to figure out the 5,000 OTHER aspects of getting an LS engine running CORRECTLY in your Chevelle. After some back and forth I’ve decided on the 6.0 liter LQ4 iron block truck motor backed by a modified / rebuilt 4L60E 4-speed auto transmission
Check out the Blog page to learn what I learned along the way.