What good is retirement if you've got nothing to enjoy it with?
Gary Garcia had been itching to find a Chevelle he could work on and enjoy. On a trip to the Pomona swap meet one weekend, he found the right car. After 24 hours of haggling with its owner, Gary brought home his new toy, a '65 Chevelle.
It wasn't long before the A-body was stripped down and the body removed from the frame. While Gary was busy replacing everything on the frame, the body was sent to Billy Lopez for some quick prep and a respray in black. To do the job right, Billy had to strip the existing paint to bare metal, and that's when things went to hell. Stripping the car down revealed Bondo-laden quarter-panels, deck lid, drip rails, and other oxidized metal. Billy went to work, replacing both quarters, installing a new deck lid, and patching the drip rails and other areas needing new steel.
It should be noted here that Billy was only 19 at the time and fresh out of high school-talk about getting thrown into the fire! But with youthful enthusiasm, he tackled the job, and when finished, the A-body was straighter than it was new and covered in a fresh two-tone House of Color Tangelo and Silver paint job sprayed by Adrian "The King" Fontez.
While the body was being refinished, Gary was hard at work (between shifts at his regular job) on the chassis. A previous collision on the driver's side corner had bent the frame, so the first stop was a frame shop to get the rails parallel again. Then it was powdercoated for good looks and full corrosion protection.
From there the front suspension was overhauled with new bushings and other parts, and a Classic Performance Products (CPP) 1.25-inch front sway bar was added. Out back, the Chevelle's stock rear suspension was replaced with a four-link from CPP, bolted to the factory GM 10-bolt rear, which was stuffed with Moser axles and 3.73 gears. Air Ride Shockwaves were installed at all four corners for a fully-adjustable ride height, and CPP brakes with 13-inch cross-drilled rotors give the Chevelle plenty of stopping power. Foose Legend wheels with Falken tires keep the car stuck to the asphalt.
For power, the Chevelle uses an early '80s truck 350 rebuilt by Muscle Cars USA with a 0.030-inch overbore, new rods, 10:1 pistons, and new bearings throughout. A Comp Cams hydraulic roller tells the valvetrain in the Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads what to do, and an Edelbrock Performer intake with a Holley 650 cfm carb handles fuel distribution duties. On the Westech engine dyno, the combo made 405 hp, plenty of grunt to make the Chevelle a fun driver. The 350 is backed up by a 700R4 trans from TCI. Exhaust disposal is handled by a set of Patriot headers connected to Flowmaster mufflers.
Once the body and chassis were bolted back together, Gary went to work on the car's interior, with the help of Raul's Auto Trim in Chino. A new Flaming River steering column was installed, and Auto Meter gauges with a Covans Classic dash replaced the factory readouts. For cruising tunes, a Pioneer DEH 4100 head unit with Infinity speakers was installed by Chad Geary at O.B. Audio in Ontario. With some help from Danny Hardin, Gary custom made a new center console and amplifier rack, along with a subwoofer hidden between the rear seats. The car was totally rewired by Gary and friends, so no electrical issues will sideline the A-body from weekend cruising.
When he first started the project, Gary had no intention of going through the full restoration he ended up with. But thanks to the help and advice of friends like Bill Lopez, Danny Hardin, and others, he ended up with a great Chevelle in which to enjoy in his free time.