We'd hazard a guess that many Chevy enthusiasts didn't even know Chevelle two-door wagons were built. For two years, 1964 and 1965, they were part of the Chevelle 300 series, but just more than 3,300 were built. In 1964, 1,710 were assembled, representing a scant .004 percent of the model year's 387,119 overall Chevelle production. In 1965, just 1,668 of the 397,750 Chevelles built were two-door wagons (1,015 six-cylinders and 653 V-8 cars). No matter how you look at the numbers, the Chevelle 300 two-door wagons were the rarest Chevelle models built in either year.
Rochester Hills, Michigan, resident Todd Christensen owns a smoothed-over '65 version, which he found locally. Although the rare wagon was in good shape when he purchased it, Christensen's plans for a family cruiser didn't include the car's stock manual brakes, "arm-strong" steering, and lack of air conditioning. The plan was to update the suspension and brakes, add A/C, throw on some 17-inch wheels, and call it quits. But that was just the beginnning.
In Christensen's case, he began with the chassis. Up front, he replaced stock parts with '96 Caprice spindles, Global West tubular control arms, KYB shocks, and a 1.25-inch Addco sway bar. The front brakes are 12-inch Camaro 1LE discs. Also, a quicker-ratio, tighter-feeling steering box was added by Kyle Tucker at Detroit Speed. Out back, the suspension was lowered with a 3-inch drop kit from Original Parts Group. KYB shocks were added, and the stock drum brakes and sway bar were retained. The suspension sits on 17-inch, BFG G-Force-wrapped, Billet Specialties wheels. All the shiny, new suspension parts contrasted poorly with the unrestored frame, so Christensen refinished and repainted the underbody, frame, firewall, core support, and so forth. And, as the snowball effect usually works, the "nice, original" trim was replace with a new grille assembly, bumper, etc.
Christensen liked the Butternut Yellow color that the car was already wearing and didn't want to change it. But after some beverage-induced prodding from a street rod-building buddy, Christensen fired up the air compressor, took a last swig from his beer, and sprayed the lower portion of the car a Chrysler-derived silver paint. Not only handy with a paint gun, Christensen also tackled the interior. He designed the custom door panels and had them (and the seats) covered by Jeff Kilmer (a friend who builds concept cars and prototypes for General Motors). Apart from the street rod-style shifter and a custom air conditioning vent box, the remainder of the cabin is stock, including the carpeting, trim, and gauges.
The stock gauges monitor the underhood activities of a fuel-injected small-block. Originally a 350, the engine now displaces 366 ci, thanks to a .030-inch overbore and a new, forged 3.58-inch stroker crank laid by Pine, Colorado's Madcap engine shop. Forged TRW piston deliver a street-friendly 10:1 compression ratio, while a Crane Energizer hydraulic cam delivers an equally street-friendly idle quality. The motor is topped with aluminum Sportsman II heads from World Products, which boast 2.02/1.60 valves. The valves actuate to ingest and expel the mixture delivered by an Edelbrock Performer RPM Pro-Flo electronic fuel injection system. That's a long-winded way of saying "throttle-body injection," which explains why a conventional air cleaner is perched atop the engine.
Part of the car's great fuel economy comes from the overdrive of the car's 700R-4 transmission and 3.23-geared 10-bolt rearend. Regardless, it's a cruiser without compromise. Like most builders, Christensen says the car is almost done. "Just a custom console, gauge cluster and rear disc brakes," he says. "Then I'm finished. I swear."Yeah, sure. We've heard that one before.