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1967 Chevy Chevelle 396 SS - Metal Mistress

Bruce Elliott has been sharing a lot of memories lately with this older lady

By Rod Short, Photography by Rod Short

The Mojave Desert has seen a lot of things. It's where America's first jet aircraft flew in 1942. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier there in 1947, while the SR-71 Blackbird surpassed 2,000 mph years later. With its flat, natural runways and near perfect year-round weather, it would make sense that this was the place where many memorable breakthrough's would occur—and where some of the earliest seeds of hot rodding would take root.

Such was the case for a Bruce Elliott, and any number of other young servicemen that were and still are stationed around the area. This is a place where a car could really unwind. Those experiences left an indelible mark on this young man's consciousness, the result of which can be seen here today.

"One of the main reasons I wanted this car was because of fond memories from being stationed in the Mojave Desert in the late '60s," Elliott said. "One of my buddies had a '67 396/375 four-speed Chevelle convertible that was gunmetal gray with a black top. I always loved that car. This Chevelle brings back those good old days of racing in Southern California."

With the fresh facelift over the previous model, the '67 Chevelle is often regarded as the more attractive of the two, even though the sales numbers didn't show it. A little over 63,000 Super Sports were driven home by happy customers that years out of a total of 369,144 Chevelles sold. Cars were available with the L34 and L78 396 big-blocks, along with the L79 327 small-block. Both the M20 and M21 four-speeds were available, along with the Powerglide and Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmissions.

"I got the car from Tommy Cox, who is a good friend of mine," Elliott said about the history of his car. "He had gotten it from the second owner in Washington State. He had a daughter in college and another two in high school at the time, so he decided to let it go. It was about 80-percent complete, so I finished it to my taste with my good friend Bryan Wilde, who did most of the work with my help. This is the third car he's helped me with."

With more chrome than the eye can comprehend, the engine bay is more like a "clean room" than a workplace of grime and grit. J&R Racing in Summerduck, Virginia, assembled the potent 496 ci powerplant with an Eagle rotating assembly, using Procomp cylinder heads and a Comp Cams bumpstick. An Edelbrock Air Gap intake manifold anchors the top end of the engine with a single Quick Fuel 830 cfm carburetor that's fed by a Holley mechanical pump. Helping the combustion chambers evacuate is a set of Jet Hot-coated Hooker headers, which dump into Flowmaster Model 40 mufflers. Estimated horsepower for Elliott's engine combo is 567, with 550 lb-ft of torque. Behind the engine is a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed with a Hayes clutch and pressure plate and a Lakewood bellhousing. A-1 Drive Shafts provided a custom made connection point to the 12-bolt rear which houses 3.73:1 rear gears and Moser axles. This combo makes for a wonderful street driver.

The suspension remains essentially stock, with the exception of the front end, which uses a Classic Performance Products spindles that drop the nose a full two inches. A pair of QA-1 coilovers helps dampen travel ahead of the driver, with standard shocks on the rear. CPP discs (f) and stock drums (r) provide the braking power.

Lanham Auto Body in Lanham, Maryland, covered the flawless body panels with PPG Titanium Gray, which works exceptionally well with the custom-made Hartz convertible top. Ardmore Interiors in Millersville, Maryland, completed the matching driver's compartment. Billet Specialties wheels measuring 17 inches in diameter on the front and 18 at the rear are shod with Goodyears and Mickey Thompsons respectively.

The end of result of Eliott's work and vision is a classic muscle car with all the right distinctive touches necessary to make it a standout from the crowd. Better yet, it's also a tangible connection to a time that might otherwise be gone forever.

"With the help and blessings from my best friend and wife Jean, I've got this beautiful '67 Chevelle that I've really enjoyed" Elliott said.

Sounds like a pretty good arrangement to us!

By Rod Short
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