Looking at the '94 Corvette Competition Yellow color on John Welliver's San Diego-based '65 Chevelle Super Sport, you'd never guess that the car was first painted black to allow any flaws in the bodywork to show up. Not many were found, but after the body was perfect, the yellow paint was laid on by Wally Feil. That's doing it the hard way, but it paid off.
In a way it's fitting that the car was black, for a little while any way, because John's inspiration for this bright beauty was a brand-new black '65 Malibu SS that he bought at the age of 18, replete with an L79 engine so he could drag race at Ohio's Dragway 42. As happens, a wife and son became top priority a few years later, so the Chevelle went away. Twenty-eight years later, John bought another '65 SS from the original owner and went to work making it a daily driver.
Project cars seldom turn out the way they're planned, and this example was no exception. That daily driver idea got out of hand. First thing, Welliver (who owns his own machine shop) had the car fully disassembled and had a rotisserie to mount the body for acid dipping fabricated. Then the chassis was boxed, new lower control arms were designed and fabricated (by the owner), and Global West upper control arms were installed. Finally, the frame was black powdercoated. A Moser nine-inch rear with 3.55:1 Posi gears and Moser axles was suspended by Hotchkiss springs and Bilstein shocks. Twelve-inch disc brakes ('79 Olds front and '76 Eldorado rear) were installed together with spindles from a '79 Olds. A Year One quick ratio steering box, '65 Chevelle wagon springs, polygraphite bushings by PST, stainless steel brake lines, and a Wilwood proportioning valve make up the remainder of the suspension and brakes. The car rolls on Weld 16X8 wheels with 245-50 and 275-50 BF Goodrich rubber.
Once the frame was ready, John took a ZZ3 crate motor to Ed Hale in Lakeside, California, for some massaging. When completed, the mill had GM Pink rods, Hyperutectic 10.5:1 pistons, and a Cloytes timing chain. The heads were ported and polished, Crower roller rockers installed, an MSD ignition added, Hooker comp headers bolted on, Earls braided hoses routed, and a Griffin aluminum radiator with Durale 12-inch fans set in place. The crown jewel of this engine obviously is the Moon Cross Ram intake with four 45mm Weber DCCE carbs. If all that polished upper end doesn't catch your attention, you need to check your prescription (drug or glasses). This is one impressive engine compartment. Trans is a Richmond Street five-speed with a Hurst shifter, bolted to a Center force clutch, nodular flywheel, and Lakewood E.D. bellhousing.
Interior was done by Jim's Auto Upholstery in San Diego in all black. Inside features include Autometer gauges, a Pioneer stereo, and a Grant wheel. Wiring was accomplished by Ernie Gerstmar and the car owner.
We're glad that John Welliver was able to find a car that brings back his youth. We're even happier that he brings it out for the rest of us to see and enjoy.