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A 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag Car, Handed Down From Teacher to Student

A Tale of Two Chevelles: Stalking a Sweet Chevy Racer Over a Lifetime

Scotty Lachenauer Apr 5, 2016 0 Comment(s)
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Jeff Spadaccini was a young, burgeoning car-noisseur during the heyday of big-time factory muscle cars. It was the '70s and everywhere you looked in his hometown of Wanaque, New Jersey, there were high-horsepower street machines roaming the neighborhoods, looking for some attention, and maybe even some street action.

Jeff's older brother was constantly tinkering with hot rods and muscle motors, and it wasn't long before his pastime rubbed off on his kid brother. Jeff was bit by the horsepower bug early on, and quickly took notice of the hot rides cruising the neighborhood.

Living next door to a busy bank, there were plenty of cars to spy from out his bedroom window. But one car grabbed his attention and wouldn't let his eyes glance away: a Mist Green '70 Chevelle SS. The aggressive stance, the guttural sound, the purely hypnotic color of that big-block Bow Tie was just the coolest thing in the world to this pre-teen hot rodder in training!

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Vintage Photo 2/22

After talking to his buddies, he found that the rumor on the street was that the owner didn't just have one Mist Green Chevelle SS, he had a matching car as well! And that other car, well, that was a full-blown racer that made the rounds at the local tracks. To top it all, that Chevelle he eyed on the town streets from his bedroom window, well, that particular ride was the owner's tow car. Imagine that; a daily driver Chevelle towing a quarter-mile Chevelle. One owner, two identical Mist Green Chevelle SS's in the garage. Could it get any better than that?

The years passed and Jeff entered high school. The teenager soon enrolled in the school's work/study program and had to find a job to get the credits he needed to graduate. On a hunch, he made his way to Ringwood Auto Center, a local car repair facility owned by one Ken Storms. After a quick interview, Jeff was hired as an apprentice at the shop.

Ken took Jeff for a tour of the facility, showing him the basics of his duties. As they turned the corner in the shop, he couldn't believe what he saw. Right there in front of him was a Mist Green Chevelle SS race car named Outrageous, the car was owned and raced by his new boss. That rumor he heard years ago was dead-on.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Keys 3/22

The Story of Outrageous

In October 1969, Ken Storms walked into Atkins Chevrolet in nearby Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, and sat down with salesman Kip Wetham to hash out the makings of his new '70 Chevelle SS. Ordered with the 396/350hp engine, an M40 Turbo Hydromatic transmission, black vinyl interior, and Code 45 Mist Green paint, the car was a nice ride right from the start.

Kip also told him of the cowl-induction hood available for the Chevelle, to which Ken quickly agreed to purchase. When the car arrived a month later, it was everything he hoped it would be, except for two things: the console he ordered was not present and the car was equipped with a column shift. After some thought Ken decided not to wait any longer and to just take the car the way it was.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Vintage Photo 4/22

That March, Ken brought the Chevelle to Island Dragway in nearby Great Meadows and took the ride out for its first run down a quarter-mile track, just to get a looksee at what the bone stock ride could do. Running in the F/Pure Stock class, it ran a steady 14.90. With some tweaking over the following months, the car got down to 14.10. He soon added headers and slicks, and that got him in the 13s. Running F/SA with 4.88 gears he broke into the 12s.

When the NHRA dropped the Stock Eliminator class in 1972, he went into Super Stock and built a solid powerplant for the car. He started with a 396 block and stuffed it with TRW pistons, an L88 second-design solid lifter cam, and topped it with an Edelbrock Tarantula intake. Out back, he installed a set of 5.13 gears and went racing. In Super/HA he ran a best of 11.60 with this configuration.

In 1974, Ken got his nerve up after watching Ray Allen in the Briggs car and decided to run SS/DA with the Chevelle. The car was back-halved by Law Automotive, and Ken installed a set of 14x32 tires after first lengthening the wheelwells by 3 inches. A set of 5.38 gears was then installed out back. A brutish 454 was built up by Bill Ceralli. Lastly, a set of Cragar Super Trick rims were installed at all four corners. It was with this iteration of the Chevelle that Ken ran his best times, pulling a 10.78 at 125.52 mph in the quarter.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Vintage Photo 5/22

Envy with Green

Young Jeff continued to work for Ken over the years. When Ken raced, Jeff was always invited to go to the track with him. Over time, Ken put his trust in Jeff and the youngster soon became his right-hand man when it came to his cars.

Jeff remembers vividly the day he decided to find the cause of an antifreeze leak in Outrageous. "Super Chevy Day was coming up and I took the initiative to go to the garage on a Sunday and pull the top end off the motor to inspect the head gaskets. Ken walked in on me while I was elbow deep in his engine. He asked what I was doing. I just said getting ready for Super Chevy Sunday. He just smiled and said great job. From that moment on I had gained Ken's total trust. It was definitely a turning point in our relationship," states Jeff. "Not only was Ken a friend, he was my mentor and helped me through some rough times," he continued.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Vintage Photo 6/22

Over the years, Ken's track time became less and less. Soon the Chevelle was just a part-time toy. Following a few more years with little use, Outrageous was officially retired. Next, he sold off the matching tow car as it just wasn't necessary to have a pair of stagnant rides sitting in the garage. Over those years Jeff started working outside the business in another field of employment. But from time to time the two would meet up and rekindle their friendship.

Retirement was looming for Ken. He soon moved to Florida, and took Outrageous with him. By now the Chevy was tuned-down quite a bit and Ken started the process of turning the Mist Green Monster back into a domesticated street ride.

Over the course of time, Jeff would talk to Ken. The elder knew that Jeff loved the car, as he would often ask about the future of the Chevelle. Deep down Ken knew that if he was going to sell it, there was no other person better than Jeff to hand it off to. He saw that Jeff cared for his rides and had faith that he would treat Outrageous the way it should be treated. When the time came to finally pass it on, the two made a deal for the car, and the keys and title were handed over to the "kid" who lusted after it since he was a youngster.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Front Three Quarter 7/22
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss With Owner 8/22

Revitalized

Once Jeff got the car he decided to finish what Ken started. He turned the Chevelle back into a usable street car, which could still eat up the quarter-mile if the need arose. Jeff was careful to make subtle improvements, while keeping some of the nostalgia of the racer.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Engine Side 9/22
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Engine 10/22

First off was to build a suitable powerplant for the Chevy. Louie Bengivenni from LRB Performance handled the engine rebuild. The Chevelle's 454 was used as a starting point. First, the block was punched out 0.030 over to 461 ci. A pair of aluminum AFR oval port heads covers the cylinders. A solid roller cam gets the valves jumping and a 950-cfm AED carburetor feeds the beast. Hooker Super Comp headers feeding a 3-inch, mandrel-bent exhaust system get rid of the spent gasses in a hurry. A Turbo 400 manual valvebody transmission with an ATI converter does the shifting.

Power is sent to a factory 12-bolt stuffed with 4.10 gears and built with Moser axles. Wheel Vintiques made the 15x7 front and 15x10 rear factory-style wheels. The rears are shod in Hoosier Drag Radials, sized at a healthy 315/60/15. Rear suspension is Alf Wiebe Trick Super Stock Suspension from Canada. It uses Koni adjustable shocks and springs made by Santhuff Suspension Specialties.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Interior 11/22
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Tire 12/22

The interior is all factory issue. The shifter is right there on the column where it's always been. The original rollcage was removed due to the fact it was outdated by today's safety standards. Jeff decided not to replace it. The wheel openings were returned back to stock, as the new owner didn't need the track tires out on the street. All the gauges are original or the ones that Ken installed.

The car is driven on the street, and it's driven often. Sometimes Jeff pulls it out for the vintage drag races at Island Dragway, the first place the car ever ran on a sanctioned track. The best e.t. for the new owner is a very respectable 10.76 at 125 mph. Ken is proud that the car is still doing what he intended it to do from the start, and he's even prouder that Jeff kept his racer's slogan on the rear valance for all to see. "You can't always get what you want," this Chevelle's parting shot to all that have tried and failed to chase her down.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Front View 13/22
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Profile 14/22
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Rear Three Quarter Top View 15/22
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Drag 454 Ss Rear Three Quarter Low Angle 16/22

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