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1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS - Half-Done Hand Down

Adam Toney Fulfills his Chevy Heritage with this do-all '70 Chevelle.

Liz Miles Jun 3, 2013
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Where does your brand dedication come from? Everyone has a preference, if they say they don't they are lying. Adam Toney, owner of this liquid-smooth '70 Chevelle, got it from his grandfather. Though Grandpa died before Adam was born, he heard stories about how Gramps was brought in to transport the cars for the '55 Chevrolet models. Since then, the Toney family has been all Chevy. "I would never even consider another brand," Adam says.

It continued with Adam's father, Floyd, who bought a '70 SS 396 Chevelle off the showroom floor. That car came and went but Floyd bought another one in 1996 to relive the experience. Life got in the way and the car sat, untouched, for 10 years. Over those years Adam and his older brother, Daniel, were growing up with the mystery of the abandoned hunk of metal in the garage. As they got into their early teen years they began to understand the possibilities. The family vacations were built around automotive events rather than the typical destinations, which exposed the boys to the cars their dad always talked about. Their Chevy magazine collection provoked an even more intense fascination with the covered project.

With dad's help, Adam bought a '70 Nova to work on, like a miniature version of his dad's ride. The Nova was in rough shape and dad decided to make a deal with Adam. If Adam sold the Nova, he would get the Chevelle. What a deal! Adam's dad and brother were eager to help him get the car back on the road after its 10-year stint in the garage.

The young team didn't follow the typical path of slapping on anything they thought was cool at the moment. They had a serious plan mapped out and were not going to be swayed by that moth's trend or any other impulse. Floyd had collected a number of OE-style parts for the type of build he had envisioned, but only part of that plan ran parallel with the boys.

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This was their first build, and with a perfect body and frame, they had to be careful. Daniel lent his '49 Chevrolet DeLuxe beater as a practice dummy for their novice wrenching throwing. They learned a lot that way and by early 2006, they were ready for the real thing.

With a complete parts list and a vision of a street car that can do anything, they dove in. The first thing on the to-do list was to get it rolling with the final brake and suspension setup. Their observations from avid magazine reading led them to the combination they chose. The Chevelle had been sitting those 10 years with no engine or interior so that would be tackled next. Pretty soon the end of the year came and the car was done.

Being located in the Southeast's Franklin, Georgia, they are surrounded by drag racing. The area's dead-flat topography meant corner carving the canyons was out of the question and autocross events were rare. The boys took the do-anything car to the do-one-thing drag racing events. They had fun but were itching for more. In 2012, Chevy High Performance magazine held their Nationals event in Commerce, Georgia, not too far from the Toney's place. This was the first time they would be exposed to an autocross course and 60-to-0–style test.

As expected, they rocked the drag racing portion of CHP's Top Ride Shootout with a best e.t. of 10.56 seconds at 133.5 mph. That time would be good enough for First Place, but the autocross and brake portions were a little less successful. This was their first time taking the car around anything but the street and the return road. A little suspension tuning and brake bias adjusting will bring them up in the competition if they're invited next year, and my guess is they will be.


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The freshly detailed frame got a set of Global West front upper and lower control arms. The nose is supported by a pair of QA1 coilovers with help from a Hotchkis sway bar. The rear gets QA1 double-adjustable shocks and 12-inch 175-pound springs along with BMR control arms and sway bar. They negotiate the turns and keep it straight with a quick-ratio 12:1 steering box.

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Engine & Drivetrain

No matter how high the boys' aspirations were, this thing had to remain a street car. That means keeping pump-gas–friendly compression and an idle that's stable under 1,000 rpm. There's no replacement for displacement so they started with a Chevrolet Performance–built 9.6:1 compression 572ci big-block Chevy. The bottom end holds all GM parts, including a forged crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons. The aluminum cylinder heads were left unmolested from GM with 310cc intake ports, 2.25-/1.88-inch valves and 118cc combustion chambers. Hydraulic roller lifters ride a steel GM camshaft with 0.632-inch lift and 254/264 degrees duration on a 112-lobe separation angle. Even topped off with GM's single-plane aluminum intake, the 620-factory horsepower still wasn't enough. They chose a ProCharger F2 supercharger and a Carb Shop 950-cfm blow-through carburetor to achieve 850 hp at 6,300 rpm. In keeping with the street theme, they selected a 1,800-rpm Billet Face torque converter in front of the 4L80E overdrive transmission. Shifting was negotiated with a stock horseshoe lever. The automatic's long life is ensured by a BeCool transmission cooler. Out back is a Moser 12-bolt with 35-spline axles, 3.25:1 gears, and a Detroit Locker differential. A 3.5-inch carbon-fiber driveshaft from BMR connects it all.

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The car was purchased for its pristine shell. The previous owner had removed the body from the frame and sprayed it with Ferrari Rosso Corsa, "Racing Red", lacquer paint. All body panels are steel with all of the original body moldings and emblems. They plan to keep the body exactly as-is in the classic red a '70 Chevelle should wear.

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Wheels & Brakes

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The boys would like to slow down just as quickly as they can speed up; Baer 14-inch two-piece rotors and six-piston calipers do the job up front. A 12-inch rotor and single-piston caliper keep the rear in check. They fool the crowd with a set of Billet Vintiques original look-alikes in 18x8 and 18x9.5, front and rear. The wheels and brakes wouldn't do any good without the Nitto NT05 sticky rubber in 245/40R18 and 295/35R18, front and rear.

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The seating area is just as traditional looking as the exterior, with only a few hints of 10-second e.t.'s. Seats are wrapped in factory vinyl with door panels to match. The stock shifter and steering wheel add to the factory dedication. Auto Meter carbon-fiber gauges and a big red button are the only things that suggest it's a race car. We wonder how they've made it this long without a rollcage!

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