It makes sense that Alexis DeJoria's most treasured ride, in an exceptional personal collection, is the quietly badass '67 Chevelle SS she coveted and saved for until she could make the purchase at the age of 17.
At first glance, it is easy to discern that this raven-haired nitro Funny Car driver is one tough chick, but get a little closer and Alexis DeJoria’s laid-back, California vibe starts showing. The tattooed sweetheart is as complex as they come, the perfect blend of non-intrusive and outgoing, intimidating and respectful, and kind-hearted in personality – until, of course, it's time for a little friendly competition. Then she gets a little mean.
"Where I grew up in Southern California, a lot of guys in high school had old hot rods, and most of them were Chevys," she explained. "They had Bel Airs, Novas, Chevelles, Impalas – you name it. One of the guys who street-raced had a black '67 Chevelle, and I wanted it so bad. When I could, I paid $7,000 for it. Once it was mine, I wanted to make it as original as possible."
In keeping with this goal, the vintage Chevy, flawlessly painted with a hue of DuPont's black by Greg Seid with bodywork done by Greg and Ramiro at Auto Creations, is rich in OEM parts and pieces. The grille, front and rear bumpers, and SS hood are all OEM.
Attention to detail certainly didn't stop there; this 1967 Chevy Chevelle has been through a complete frame-off restoration. The frame, body, and all parts were media blasted and powder coated inside and out, and all factory lead was removed at the seams with metal plates crafted and welded in its place. At the same time, a custom smooth firewall was added to complete the package. Sherm's Custom Plating in Sacramento was responsible for the chrome, Precision Stripping in Lodi managed the powder coating, and all stainless work and polishing was done at Auto Creations.
A USB port in the center console complements the Auto Creations-installed Alpine CD/cassette that pump tunes through a Kicker three-way 6-in. round and 6 x 9-in. speakers, and a custom aluminum panel locates the Ron Francis fuse panel, MSD 6AL and Blaster coil.
Sound absorbing Dynamat, courtesy of Garen at AutoMazing in West Sacramento, preceded the neatly fitted interior that includes OEM-style black carpet, vinyl bucket seats, and door panels.
This '67 Chevelle SS was an original big-block car, but there was a (non-original) 454 under the hood when Alexis finally got her hands on it. The engine was old and tired though, and it had been pushed to the max. The car sat for about a year before the first major overhaul, when it received the first of three builds that would include a new 454 crate engine. Most recently, a massive 498 cubic-inch big-block Chevy was machined, ported, and assembled by Nick Bastiao over the course of a year and now occupies a generous amount of real estate in the engine compartment. The horsepower? A cool 534 at 7,100rpm. Torque maxed out at 540 ft-lbs at 6,200rpm.
Bored to 4.372-inches and stroked to 4.150, the internally balanced and blueprinted engine has Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads fully ported by Bastaio that flow 375cfm at .650-inch lift. It features an ARP stud kit, 2-piece Manton pushrods, and Mahle pistons with a 9.1:1 compression ratio for pump gas. The crankshaft was manufactured by Bryant, and the camshaft – with a carefully guarded, super-secret spec card – is from Bullet. The Cloyes roller timing chain and solid Isky lifters complete the valvetrain. An Edelbrock intake manifold that was also finessed by Bastaio sits atop the 498.
"Oh, it's really stout," grinned Alexis. "It's a mean machine, and I wouldn't change anything. On many occasions, I've been sitting at a red light and a European sports car pulls up next to me. I rev my engine, so do they, and it's on. Needless to say – they end up backing down every time."
The wicked powerplant is capped off with Billet Specialties aluminum valve covers, and everything runs smoothly thanks to lubrication from a Titan oil pump with a 9-quart Moroso oil pan. The CSR water pump and the Be Cool two-row aluminum radiator maintain a just-right temp. Chuck and John at East Coast Electric hooked Alexis up with an alternator, and air/fuel mixture is lit by a locked-out MSD distributor.
Perhaps the most unique characteristic of the '67 Chevelle SS is the 960cfm Holley 830 carburetor, which came from one of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s test engines.
Hooker Super Comp 2-1/8-inch primary headers are coated with a custom Auto Creations mix and direct the spent gasses through a stainless 3-inch MagnaFlow exhaust, which includes an X-pipe routing to their American Muscle series mufflers. The finishing touches are a March bracket and pulley kit, and custom hidden wiring. A complement of K&N filters keep the Bow Tie clean as it rides down the highway on GM 15x8 front wheels sporting BF Goodrich 255s and custom 15x10 rally rear wheels outfitted with Nitto 275 drag radials.
Thanks to years of thoughtful consideration and careful execution, the '67 Chevelle SS is tricked out with special features from top to bottom; from the Grant steering wheel to the custom-made B&M Quicksilver shifter, that fits seamlessly into the stock location, to manipulate the Turbo 400 Chevrolet transmission with a 3,000 stall torque converter – more of Bastaio's handy work. The new custom heavy-duty driveshaft was made by Sacramento Drive Lines.
The GM 12-bolt rear axle houses a 4:11 gear ratio. Suspension upgrades include Koni shocks, rear springs with a 1-inch drop and swaybar manufactured by Hotchkis. For durability, the fuel and brake lines were done in stainless.
A diverse girl like Alexis has an insatiable appetite, and speaking to this is an inspiring collection of toys in the garage. Among them, a '49 Merc, BMW 760, Range Rover, '57 Bel Air, and a Toyota Tundra that was a project truck for the Tequila Patron Funny Car team.
Still, this auto enthusiast has long been loyal to her Chevy and spent many hours at the Pomona, Calif., swap meet combing for Chevelle parts. The trips to Pomona were beneficial in more ways than one – not only was Alexis able to determine the direction she wanted to go with her project, but Pomona was also where she learned of a sportsman-level NHRA event to be held at the quarter-mile strip known as Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. A return to the facility for the street-legal drags fueled the fire in her belly for racing and launched a career.
Over the course of the nearly two decades that Alexis has owned her prized Chevrolet, there have been many people involved in making it the car that brings her so much joy. Alexis credits Bastaio for his plentiful contributions, as well as Jerry from Rodworks in Los Angeles and Funny Car heads specialist John Sullivan.
"I have cars, lots of really cool ones, but this one is by far my favorite," said Alexis. "This is the one car I'd never sell. It fits my personality best, and every time I drive it, I feel like I'm 17 again."
When she isn't rolling in the '67 Chevelle SS, the Austin-transplant is an established racecar driver in NHRA's professional Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and on the fast track to fame behind the wheel of her 8,000hp Tequila Patron Funny Car. [She won 2 out of 4 races to start the 2014 season.] No stranger to celebrity, Alexis grew up just steps from the limelight; her father is world renown entrepreneur and philanthropist John Paul DeJoria, and in 2013 she unintentionally assured further celebrity when she married custom motorcycle crafter Jesse James.
Despite living on the edge, and often smack dab in the middle of a world of stardom and controlled chaos, Alexis is just Alexis. She is one of a kind. Genuine, strong, and with a clear sense of individuality, this girl and her favored muscle machine are cut from the same cloth. In a way, the pairing of this beauty and her beast seems to level the frenetic pace, if only for a little while.
"I'm into a lot of exciting adventures, and I live a pretty intense life," she agreed. "But to me, driving this car down PCH [Southern California's Pacific Coast Highway] with the windows down, the sunshine, the palm trees, and the ocean – well, that's a perfect day."