For some car owners it’s the thrill of the hunt, and not so much the kill. A good example is the 1970 Chevelle featured here and the story about how the LS6 clone ended up in the hands of Brian Almas of Irvine, California. As car guys go Brian is an FNG to the scene and typical of someone just bitten by the old American car bug he’s as enthusiastic as they come. It all started when Brian and his dad decided they had spent too many years apart due to running a family construction business, so it was time to buy an old car and spend some time together. Next stop was the Mecum Auto Auction in Anaheim, California, where the father and son duo cast the winning bid on a 1956 Chevy Nomad, and this 1970 Chevelle.
As a rule, auction cars leave the block with not a whole lot of build history attached, but we were able to gather some pertinent facts. It was a car collector named Marvin Landen that commissioned the build as a fulfillment to his desire to track down cars he once owned in his youth, or wanted to and never did. And, of course, with the thrill of the hunt mindset once the kill has been made it was time to send the ’70 Chevelle across the block.
For paint and bodywork, Marvin sent the Chevelle to Mike Simms’ The Paintin Place in Westlake Village, California. It wasn’t the first time Marvin had Simms paint one of his cars. It’s been a relationship built on trust over several previous restoration projects. The body on the ’70 was in pretty rough shape when Simms started. A tree had caved in the roof, the quarter-panels were real wavy, and rust had taken its toll. After all the bodywork was handled the car moved into paint. The car’s original color was Astro Blue, a lighter metallic blue than the dark metallic Fathom Blue Simms sprayed followed with white SS stripes using Axalta paint products.
Under the cowl hood is where any trace of appearing as a stock ’70 LS6 totally disappears. The engine is a big ol’ nasty 555-inch Edelbrock Musi that’s rated at 676 horsepower and 649 lb-ft of torque. Starting at the top end, an 870-cfm Holley Avenger carb sits atop an Edelbrock Victor Jr. 454-R intake manifold that bridges the valley between a pair of Edelbrock E-CNC ported cylinder heads. A Rollin’ Thunder hydraulic roller cam pops the valves open via 1.7:1 roller rockers. The exhaust exits through big CNC ported exhaust ports and into Lemons headers connected to 3-inch pipes and Flowmaster 40 mufflers.
It wasn’t but a few days after the Anaheim Mecum auction had concluded when Brian and his dad delivered the ’56 Nomad and the ’70 LS6 clone to J&R Motorsports where Raymond Harstad applied his incredible mechanical skills and intense attention to detail. Brian’s first request was to have Raymond install a pair of Quick Time Performance electric exhaust cutouts. To extract every bit of volume from the 555 Musi’s unencumbered exhaust system Raymond fabricated scavenger pipes extending out from the QTP cutouts.
The exhaust system was just the tip of the iceberg for the improvements handled by J&R Motorsports. Brian wanted to upgrade the sound system, so before installing a Retro Sound head unit with a 100-watt amp and Pioneer speakers in the front, and 12-inch Rockford Fosgate subwoofers through a 100-watt Rockford Fosgate amp in the rear the raggedy looking original wiring harness had to go. Raymond started with an American Autowire complete harness, and went to great lengths routing the wiring for a bicycle clean appearance (Harley builders will know what that means).
Reupholstering the interior back to the exact look of a brand-new 1970 Super Sport black vinyl interior was accomplished with an interior restoration kit from the Original Parts Group of Seal Beach, California. The center console with a shifter popping up from a TREMEC TKO 600 transmission came from Classic Industries of Huntington Beach, California. Under the dashboard rests a trio of Chevrolet Performance gauges with fascia matching the dash cluster.
Prior to installing black loop pile carpeting Raymond sound and heat-proofed Brian’s Chevelle with Dynamat. The Centerforce clutch and pressure plate are encased in a Lakewood bellhousing, and the custom made driveshaft came from Drivelines Inc. of Mission Viejo, California. Raymond custom-fabricated a driveshaft loop to prevent the driveshaft from turning into a pogo stick should the front U-joint break.
The heavy-duty cooling system for the 555-inch big-block operates with a Stewart water pump driven by a Vintage Air Front Runner pulley system pumping coolant through a Be Cool aluminum four-row radiator. The cooling system for human bipeds occupying the interior is handled via ice-cold Vintage Air Gen IV Magnum air conditioning.
For better handling, the upgrades feature Hotchkis Sport Suspension with 2-inch lowering coil springs damped with Bilstein gas shocks at all four corners, and Hotchkis front and rear sway bars. The front stock specification disc brakes were upgraded with EBC brake pads and dimpled rotors. At rear, the stock drum brakes end cap a Chevy 12-bolt diff with 3.73 gears and Eaton Posi limited-slip differential. The original equipment appearing tires and wheels are Wheel Vintiques 66 Series Chevy style silver rallye wheels shod with the ultimate muscle car radial, Coker white letter BFGoodrich T/A radials.
Brian “Big Perm” Almas is a member in good standing with the Huntington Beach Car Club and can be spotted almost every Wednesday night in his ’70 Chevelle LS6 clone loping with a lumpy, uncorked idle down Main St. through downtown Huntington Beach with his club.