It was an otherwise peaceful autumn day in Louisville, Colorado, when Greg and Kim Gonzales were struck with the news. They were on a family drive to the grocery store when, out of the blue, their daughter Jessica blurted out something that seemed a little premature, a statement that was enough to send shivers down any parent's spine. Then 14, Jessica mentioned that she would soon be getting a driver's license of her own! Needless to say, the thought of his little girl driving struck Greg as a nightmare at first, but he eventually realized what a wonderful twist of fate it could be.
Greg quickly began thinking of getting a different car so he could give Jessica the '91 Cavalier that they were presently driving. As they arrived at the grocery store Greg noticed a '67 GTO with a "for sale" sign in the window, which immediately flooded his brain with visions of another A-body-his high school buddy's '66 Chevelle SS 396. So Greg decided to begin searching for a muscle car for himself, and after looking around a bit found the '66 you see here. Of course it wasn't as nice as it is now. The engine was junk, the interior was trashed, and the car in its entirety desperately needed help.
The Chevelle quickly became a family project, consuming much of the Gonzales' spare time. As most families would go to the mall or the park, Greg, Kim and Jessica could be found in the driveway swapping a Turbo 350 in place of the old Powerglide, or scrapping the column shifter to make way for a new Hurst unit that Santa Claus (Kim) bought for Christmas. Then came the suspension upgrades, where KYB shocks and polyurethane bushings were installed and one coil was cut from each of the four springs to give the car a lower stance.
While working on the rear shocks, Greg noticed daylight shining through pinholes in the trunk floor. So Jessica began earning that old Cavalier by removing the gas tank and helping Greg cut out the rusty floor, which was replaced with new sheetmetal from National Parts Depot. Shortly afterward, the body was lifted from the chassis so Greg could clean up the frame and replace the rotting body mounts with new polyurethane versions.
In the middle of the project, Greg's friends told him about a race-built '66 parts car for sale and began feeding him with ideas of a street-and-strip machine. Greg purchased the heap and stole its 12-bolt rearend, ladder bars, line lock, and driveshaft safety loop. He was also happy to find a new carpet set and a pair of Hooker headers in the trunk. Meanwhile, the Gonzales residence was beginning to look more like a junkyard, which was a consistent basis for ridicule from Greg's brother. But the Chevelle was progressing steadily, enough so that the family could begin tossing around color combinations. The search was over when Greg noticed the "perfect shade of blue" on the long, straight panels of a '96 Cadillac. After doing a little research, the family found the name of the color-Medium Montana Blue. They were referred to Don Sprague, of Golden West Enterprises, to apply the paint.
At the same time, the engine was sent to Rich Martin at Pro Built Cylinder Heads. Rich machined the 350 and stuffed it full of performance internals like 10.5:1 pistons and an Isky Mega Cam. He topped it off with "camel hump" heads and roller-tip rockers, the result being a very potent street small-block.
Once the Chevelle was painted and the engine was in place, Greg began replacing and re-upholstering the interior components himself. To avoid butchering the dash, he designed a custom console to house the new CD player and gauges. After getting the car close to completion, Greg attended every car show possible-just to talk to other owners and take notes on how to make everything "right." Taking notes at the shows and a reading a few Super Chevy stories gave him plenty of ideas on how to approach those all-important finishing details.
Though it began as a father's nightmare, it appears this story has a happy ending after all: Jessica got the Cavalier, Kim got a parking spot in the garage, Greg's dreams came true, and we got to go for a ride!