It happens sometimes. You get into a project and suddenly find you're in way over your head and can't get through it. Car projects frequently see this kind of story line. While some end up rotting away in pieces in the corner of a garage, others are rescued by enthusiasts who have the ability and knack for putting automotive jigsaw puzzles back together. In the case of our featured Chevelle, most of the pieces were missing to boot.
Patrick Nance, owner of D&P Classic Chevy in Huntington Beach, California, had seen this Chevelle for over three years before he ended up with it. A neighbor had been using it as a daily driver, then decided to put the car in the garage for a full restoration. Patrick remembers the car being a "10-footer" when his neighbor was driving it, and when disassembled, said neighbor found out the hard way he had a lot more work on his hands than planned for. Pretty soon the whole thing became overwhelming, and the neighbor began parting the A-body out.
After learning what had happened, Patrick approached the owner about buying the skeletal remains of the Chevelle, and for cheap Patrick got all that was left, the rusty body shell and frame. Patrick could see the potential in the rusty hulk, and refused to let it die from cancerous rust. Soon it was at the D&P shop, plans being made to turn the car into a cool, modern-themed restomod. But the project quickly took on a life of its own, with the D&P crew working nights and weekends to transform the rusty Chevelle.
While the body was being media-blasted and smoothed, the frame was stripped down and refurbished with updated components. Global West upper and lower A-arms with Romic coilover shocks handle suspension duties up front, and a GM 12-bolt rear with Romic coilovers support things out back. Stopping duties were tasked to four-wheel Baer six-piston caliper brakes and drilled 14-inch rotors. U.S. Wheel USW Forged rims with BFGoodrich rubber take care of the rolling stock.
For motivation, the Chevelle uses a 550 horse 355 Donovan built by Traco, connected to a Tremec TKO600, turning 4.10 gears in the 12-bolt. A quick ratio steering box by ABS keeps the Chevelle pointed in the right direction. Exhaust duties are handled by Doug Thorley headers connected to exhaust piping done by Plaza Muffler. Accessory drives are spun with a March Performance serpentine pulley system.
After the body was finished and the firewall and outside body panels smoothed, the body was reattached to the frame for installation of a custom roll cage done by Pat and his crew at D&P. The body was shot in PPG Custom Pearl/Metallic 3-stage yellow. Finishing off the exterior is an extensively reworked stock rear bumper fitted with C5 Corvette taillights tucked in close to the body and painted a contrasting gloss black. The Chevelle's face is tweaked with a Strut custom grille, with the factory front bumper reworked and tucked in closer to the body, also painted gloss black.
The '71 got the full custom interior by the D&P crew. Stitchcraft Interiors did a leather, suede, and sting ray wrap on the upholstery surfaces. Custom Porsche carpet took care of the floor, and Custom Autosound equipment provides the cruising tunes. Monitoring the performance are Auto Meter gauges and a custom-installed heads up display. For help in driving the Chevelle, instead of mirrors, sideview cameras were installed for a more high tech way of improving blind spot visibility.
The Chevelle was finished off just in time for display at the 2008 SEMA Show in the Custom Autosound booth. It sees regular cruises around Huntington Beach, and is driven two or three weekends a month for fun. For the whole build the D&P crew only worked nights and weekends, their weekdays filled with working on customer cars for the business.