Steel Horse

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi's '70 Chevelle Ragtop

Grant Peterson Aug 23, 2005 0 Comment(s)

So let's say that you've been a rock star for the last 20 years or so, sold tons of records, toured around the world, done some acting, and were loved by millions--not too shabby, huh? Naturally going along with all this you would have enough money to go buy some Ferraris, or whatever the well-to-do are driving this year, because you have to look good cruising around Beverly Hills or while painting the town in Hollywood right?

One guy with the fame and fortune doesn't subscribe to this train of thought. Rather than parade around Tinsel Town, he prefers to cruise with his family near their home back East, and enjoy all that life has to offer in his '70 Chevelle Convertible. That's right, Jon Bon Jovi, known around the world for his musical talent, a man that could have a fleet of almost anything, has a soft spot for Bow-Ties. You may remember reading about his '57 Nomad in Rod & Custom a couple of years ago. It seems Jon has always wanted a '70 Chevelle convert, so he sent his right hand man Obie O'Brien, owner of Obie's Hot Rods, out to look for one.

Obie saw an ad on the Internet for one that looked nice enough to start with and sent his guy Russ Miller, of RPM, to hook up the trailer and head to southern Georgia to check it out. Now, southern Georgia isn't exactly known for its nice cars. Russ was surprised at how nice it was and gave his thumbs-up to Obie, who told him to bring it home.

Their main objective was to find a car with sound sheetmetal, since it's easier to swap a motor than to replace the floor. They were most impressed by the surprising cleaniless of the body. In fact, after the car arrived at Obie's shop, the paint was skillfully buffed out by Paul "The Tool" Humphrey to look like new. The car was nearly road-worthy, but not in any way that Jon would trust driving his family around in it. So the aforementioned team of guys plus Bill O'Brien started on the mechanical side of things first.

A stock 454 is pretty stout to begin with, so just for the sake of reliability it was rebuilt with a mild cam and a 0.030 overbore. To help it breathe, they installed an Edelbrock Performer intake and carb combo and topped that off with a K&N air filter, which Obie swears by. To ensure the big Rat motor ran at the right temp, a Cool Flow water pump and Year One four-core radiator were added to the mix. The TH400 tranny was in great shape, as well as the 4.11 posi, 12-Bolt rearend, so these were left alone.

The Chevelle still runs the OE disc/drum brakes. Moog springs and over-size sway bars from Precision Technology were added to the stock suspension. Jon opted for the American Torq-Thrusts for their timeless looks. Who can argue with that?

As nice as the car was when they got it, it still has been through a couple of lives, evidenced by the lack of upkeep on the cowl-induction. Some new parts and the correct hook-up was all it needed, which seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the project, but nothing the guys couldn't handle. Anything that didn't need replacing was in good enough shape to use after some TLC.

Some people might think that a guy like Bon Jovi would have a state-of-the-art sound system in all of his cars. Well, that's gotta be the most amusing part about all of this. Would you believe that the car still has its stock Delco radio? I'm guessing that what's under the hood is music enough through the Flowmasters, since Jon loves rattling the windows of his fellow parents' Range Rovers when he drops his kids off at school! And you can bet it's a toss up between Jon and his wife who gets to drive which car, since the Nomad has a 454 under the hood too. Hey...have a nice day!

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