Believe it or not, this ultra-modern looking '70 Chevelle started out as a gasser-style straight-axle machine with a fake blower sticking through the hood. It was for sale at the Goodguys Chicagoland Nationals and nobody was giving it even a passing glance. As The Roadster Shop's Phil Gerber told us, "The car looked solid, complete, and unmolested except for the chassis. It was purchased with the intention of adding to our Chevelle chassis lineup since it would give us the dimensions to build our '68-72 Chevelle chassis to add to the '64-67 chassis already available."
The project evolved from there. Its previous orange '66 Chevelle was sold, but soon the plan to keep this one "simple" evaporated into thin air. Before long, the Chevelle was getting a custom-fabbed dash, BMW headlights, and tons of custom bodywork. As for the unusual color, Phil had this to say, "We were really tired of the silvers, reds, and blues on most cars. One of our customers said that we had to check out the Porsche GT3 RS green. We did, and it was decided upon. The color has gotten mixed reviews. But love it or hate it, people keep talking about it.
"The car was started in the beginning of June and loaded on the trailer in the middle of August. It had less than 50 miles on it when it was brought to California for the testing. Most people thought we took the interior out of the car to save weight. We actually just didn't have time to take it to the upholstery shop to have the interior put in the car. We even purchased a stock set of door and quarter trim panels to make it look somewhat more finished, but we didn't have time to install them before the event."
With so few hours on the car, the crew at The Roadster Shop was less than thrilled with the testing results and knew the car had much more potential and they were right. We later re-tested the car shortly after the SEMA show when it showed at one of our track days in Fontana, California. The surface was different from El Toro and the Chevelle was riding on a more street-friendly set of rubber. It was immediately evident that they had been hard at work tuning the Chevelle's suspension when it knocked down a .98g on the skidpad and 49.71 mph through the cones. It just shows that tuning is as important as the quality of parts installed.
Driver's Impression - On The Autocross CourseOverall, this car was average for all of the evaluated criteria for this autocross. Acceleration was great when facing straight; the car understeered on corner entry and precise positioning was required to get it close to the apex. In transitional sections of the course, the tires lost traction due to weight transfer and the soft suspension that, in turn, lost valuable seconds of time. Feedback was delayed and it was hard to take input and drive this car well. The brakes were very touchy and when applied at speed, didn't stop the car very well. It should be noted that this car was not completed and with further development it should be much better in this testing phase. At present, it's a nice street car that will get plenty of attention. I loved the color, graphics, and wheels.
About two months later, a welcome surprise awaited as this same car competed in the Optima Street Car Invitational. For the autocross, the owners asked me to drive it again and after doing so, I couldn't believe this was the same car. Everything I'd noted above that was off had changed. The Chevelle had excellent turn-in under braking, no insipid understeer, great transition during directional changes and receptive braking. It goes to show what can happen from good, systematic development as this car now offers everything good. I loved the power, brakes, traction, and most important, good manners representing a street ride.-Mary Pozzi
Driver's Impression - On The StreetI'm a sucker for good steering. I hate over-assisted boxes, twitchy steering, and I have little tolerance for slow, indirect steering. That made me appreciate The Roadster Shop Chevelle's steering feel right away. The more I drove it, the better I liked it. It was neither too light, nor too heavy, and it pointed the car right where you wanted it.
Cruising the streets around El Toro, I came to appreciate the well-sorted combo of Eibach springs and Penske shocks. The ride was sports-car firm, but not jittery or harsh. Despite the low stance, the railroad track crossing along our route failed to knock out any fillings. I'd rate the ride/handling combo better than average for the group of cars tested.
Other pluses: Sweet-shifting T56 gearbox, Zoom aluminum flywheel and clutch, Cobra seats, pedal layout and tilt steering column, all excellent. Minuses? Without carpeting, side glass or a backseat, the tailpipe-less exhaust system created quite a din inside. As for the color, well, make mine red-Jim Campisano