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This 850 Horsepower First-Gen 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Proves Square Is Cool

Hip To Be Square

Rod Short Feb 1, 2016
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Seductive lines, bulging hoods, and shapely front ends characterize nearly all of the modern body styles—which is exactly why you just have to give some love to these 1964-’65 Chevelles. They were built as upsized econoboxes; and, even with potent 327s under the hoods, were sometimes overshadowed as muscle cars by the popular Pontiac GTO. Yet, even with simple body lines and the aerodynamics of a brick, the perception of these cars might just change in younger people’s eyes with Michael Bosco, Sr.’s neat street/strip Malibu.

Priced and sized below their regular fullsize lineup, the 1964-’65 Chevelles were true midsized cars that also provided just the right platform for the resurrected El Camino. Even with a slight makeover for the 1965 production year, there were no excesses in the straightforward design of these cars. A slight angle on the leading edge of the front fenders and high, relatively flat sides with a cut-off back end—there was nothing swoopy about these cars—but they were definitely strong sellers. Nearly three quarters of a million were sold during the 1964-’65 production years alone. With four different trim models, topped by the tantalizing RPO Z16, the 1965 Chevelles were well-received by both the automotive press and the public.

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Undercarriage 2/9

“All my friends at the time were drag racing,” said Bosco about his car. So, I was looking for a clean body to start a street/strip project with. I bid on eBay for this freshly painted Chevelle with a six-point rollcage in Ohio. It was dark when we arrived to pick the car up and I was tired and anxious to get home with my new ride. So, I loaded the car up and left. When we returned home, it went right into the garage. The next day, I jacked it up and checked it out and found I had paid $3,500 for a completely rotted-out piece of junk with over 10 gallons of body filler. I was pissed!”

Bosco may have been unhappy, but he wasn’t defeated. Over the next year, he completely disassembled the car in his home garage and went to work. The car was back-halved with a kit from Chassis Works with a Dana 60 rear housing 4.88 gears. The front suspension was redone with a Global West drop spindle kit, with double-adjustable AFCO shocks on all four corners to give the car an aggressive, low-slung stance. Once done, everything was tied together with a 12-point competition rollcage done by Bosco and friend Bill Beleskie.

1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Front View 3/9

The underlying frame, floors, doors, quarter-panels, rockers, trunk floor, windshield frame, and rear deck were replaced over the course of a year. The front clip was also updated with fiberglass fenders and a Glasstech cowl-induction hood, which fits on the stock hinges. Once the bodywork was done, Mike, Jr. did the dirty work of stripping the paint. ProFab Race Cars of Whitehouse, New Jersey, sprayed the car in Bright Silver using the DuPont ChromaBase paint system.

In order to compete in the Top Street class at his home track, Bosco kept the interior very street looking with full door panels, headliner, two seats, and full carpeting. Auto Meter gauges keep track of the engine condition while a Turbo Action shifter connects to the TH400 three-speed automatic, which uses a TCI 4,400-stall converter and a Rossler trans brake.

2 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Engine View 4/9

Pretty cars, of course, are just wallflowers if they don’t have some punch to go with them. Bosco acquired a used Dart block from Pat Musi Racing and, with the help of Weston Machine, built a 555-cubic-inch big-block. Anchoring the reciprocating assembly is a Callies 4.250-stroke crank that shoves the 13:1 pistons up the 4.560-inch bores toward the combustion chambers. An Iskendrian cam orchestrates the Jesel valvetrain within the Brodix BB-2 X heads, while 2.300-inch intake valves accommodate the air/fuel charge coming down the Merlin intake from a single Pro Systems 1,150-cfm carb. Lemons headers evacuate the exhaust ports and dump into a set of Dynatech mufflers through a 4-inch exhaust. Horsepower is estimated at over 850.

5 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Interior 5/9
6 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Electrical 6/9

“They said I was nuts and it would be crazy to restore that car,” Bosco recalled with a grin. “But all the work was done in my 20x20 foot, two-car garage at home. I called in a lot of favors and I had a lot of friends donate parts to help. In the end, it cost less than $40,000 to complete. On the track, it has run a best time of 9.43 seconds at 148 mph. Better yet; the car is street legal and a pleasure to drive.”

Even though he started with a car that was more than a little rough, some hard work, bargain hunting, and calling in favors from friends resulted in a car that’s just as agreeable to the eye as it was to his pocketbook. Some may still think that these first-gen Chevelles weren’t the high-water mark in terms of design, but there’s little doubt here that Michael Bosco, Sr. is showing that it’s hip to be square!

1 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Rear View 7/9
4 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle Engine View 8/9
3 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle 9/9

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