Final Journey

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:

Body
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):

Yummy LeMans Blue....

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!

Chassis
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!

Drivetrain
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

LQ4 Engine Specs
4L60E Transmission Specs

Check out the Blog page to learn what I learned along the way.

2 comments on “Final Journey

  1. I am also working on a chevelle project. I bought the car last April with new paint and everything else old and original 61000 ml original. So far the uncariage suspension is now complete with 4 wheel 13″ brakes and updated bushings shocks etc”the rear is an Eaton posi 3:23 . Just now putting the finishing touches on my SS Dakota dash setup and interior”. Went back to a guy who did my stock 69 camaro seats 15 yrs ag. I used mini Cooper buckets and redid them I custom design black and pewter to match my dash( pewter center with cranberry trim around gauges and vents. Updated steering wheel and added 300 watt stereo system after installing sound deadener . Running 17″ torque thrust pvd rims on hankook rubber. Last step is to replace drive train. I also are looking at an LS conversion and auto od trans. Right now running original 307 with air. I m looking forward to watching your progress on the drive train. Only diff is I’m doing all this work myself, and its a lot tougher when you 52 not 22 like when I built my first camaro. The eye sights the worst thing other than all the small screws in the dash.Good luck and keep in touch.

  2. Hey Robert! I definitely hear you on the eyesight thing! I needed reading glasses at age 40! Stay in touch… I’d definitely love to hear and see how your project goes… especially the Dakota dash and interior bits! As far as the LS / 4L60 swap goes… well, it goes slowly. My engine builder here in Phoenix is right in the middle of finding a new location so they are about to pack up and move down the street a few miles. That put an effective stop to that important next step on the project. That’s okay… I’ve waited this long, right?

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