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1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS - Grand Slam

This low-down Chevelle touches all the bases

By Tommy Lee Byrd, Photography by Tommy Lee Byrd

When it comes to building a classic Chevy, there are a few things to consider, especially if you're going the pro touring route. First is stance—without this, a car doesn't have an attitude. Next is power, because that's the root of any hot rod. And though there are countless features that deserve a mention, it's all about putting it together to create a show-stopping appearance. That's where Todd Nelson's '70 Chevelle comes into the picture. It has the right stance, plenty of power, and it's all tied together in a very appealing package, which is what building an eye-catching street machine is all about.

Todd, a resident of Land O' Lakes, Florida, set out to build this Chevelle with the utmost attention to detail, from the fully custom interior to the slick engine bay, and everywhere in between. He spared no expense during the build, and gave the car a great personality with a sinister color combination, as well as a race-inspired wheel selection. Without a doubt, the car has a great look, with performance to match, thanks to a 400hp LS2.

With a life-long love for A-bodies, Todd started by building a chassis that would give him the desired ride height and handling performance. For this, he stripped the frame to its bare rails and started from scratch with a Ridetech Street Challenge suspension system, which eliminates the stamped steel control arms and replaces them with tubular units on all four corners. The Ridetech system features ShockWave airbags, so Todd can raise and lower the ride height with the press of a button. This also allows him to dial in the handling and firmness of the ride quality from inside the car. In addition to the airbags, he installed an AGR quick ratio steering box, as well as a Ridetech sway bar to make the car more responsive and stable in the corners.

For braking, Todd installed C6 Corvette Z06 brakes on all four corners, with 14.5-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front, and 14-inch rotors paired with four-piston calipers out back. Hiding those huge brakes is a set of Forgeline wheels wrapped in Goodyear rubber. They feature staggered sizing for the perfect stance. Up front, the wheels are 19x8.5 inches with 245/40R19 tires, while the massive rears come in at 20x11 inches with 305/35R20 tires.

While the chassis is outfitted with a variety of high-end components, the engine and transmission is a simple combination that proves to be quite potent with just a few modifications. Todd started with an LS2, which came from the factory with 400hp, and gave it a few bolt-ons to help it breathe easier and make a little more power. The stock intake manifold in still in place, but Todd smoothed it and painted it gloss black before installing a custom air inlet that features a K&N cone filter. Other under hood treatments give the engine a custom look, even though it's mostly stock.

Painted covers feature a custom-mixed hue to match the leather interior, and add a splash of color to the engine bay. A great mix of satin and gloss finishes offers a nice contrast, while a few polished items, such as the Street & Performance headers and billet hood hinges bring the engine bay to life. In addition to the headers, Todd gave the Chevelle a full 2.5-inch exhaust system, complete with Flowmaster mufflers. Behind the powerful LS2 is a Tremec T56 manual transmission, which leads to the stock 12-bolt rear end, fitted with 4.11 gears.

When it came time to give the Chevelle's body a makeover, Todd relied on Doug and Jeff Peterson to handle the task. The car needed all new sheetmetal to provide a fresh canvas for the Petersons to work their magic. Once all of the new panels were fitted and aligned, the door handles and side marker lights were shaved to continue the smooth look. Then, it was time for bodywork, as the Peterson's went through several cycles of priming and block sanding before it was deemed ready for a generous coating of black urethane paint. A satin black stripe covers the center of the hood and features an orange stripe, to go along with the orange accents in the SS badges, and brake calipers. After allowing the Dupont materials to cure, the car was sanded once again to remove any imperfections in the fresh finish, then buffed to bring back the incredible shine and depth you see here. From there, it was a matter of reassembling the Chevelle and getting it ready for the upholstery shop.

Matt McEntegart handled the stitch work inside Todd's Chevelle, and wrapped the '10 Camaro bucket seats and hand-fabricated interior panels with high quality leather. The unique color certainly stands out against the black paint, while dark accents bring it all together. McEntegart's work is flawless, especially when you consider the level of detail in the custom door panels, headliner and console.

A Paul Atkins dash is filled with Classic Instruments gauges, while an ididit steering column and Billet Specialties steering wheel are placed perfectly within Todd's reach. Every detail of the interior is customized, and creature comforts are in full force with a Vintage Air system, as well as a killer stereo, fit with a Pioneer head unit and a host of JL Audio and Audison equipment. An American Autowire harness brings all of these accessories, along with the rest of the car's electronics, to life.

Todd's Chevelle is a solid example of a car that has all the right ingredients for an impressive pro touring build. Todd nailed the stance, and gave it plenty of power, while calling in reinforcements for the all-important bodywork, paint and interior.

The end result is a stunning, show-winning '70 Chevelle that offers good looks and lots of enjoyment when Todd is behind the wheel.

By Tommy Lee Byrd
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