As Father Time marches on, and Chevelles enter their forties, so do many of their owners. Being middle-aged is a time in life when you try to recapture your youth with either stupid behavior or a kick-ass musclecar. For John Sonnefeldt, a "kick-ass" musclecar was the order of the day. When he decided he wanted an LS2 for his Chevelle, he used his tax return to pay for it. Smart move, right? What he didn't do was tell his wife where the money went until after the engine was on its way.
Either way you look at it, being middle-aged can be good, and it is especially true for this Chevelle because it's getting the chance to run hotter and heavier than it ever did in its prime.
The challenge for John and his crew of friends was to build a car in a home garage for the SEMA shows within seven months-a daunting task to say the least. First, the car was dismantled and taken to The Custom Shop in Flanagan, Illinois, for a PPG custom two-tone paint job with custom airbrushed graphics. Once the LS2 arrived, John immediately set his sights on some performance improvements. What guy could resist? Some of the modifications included a COMP Cams Extreme Energy Cam and springs, a FAST 90mm throttle body, a manifold, and an XFI engine management system. An Optima Battery, an MSD APS 130-amp alternator, and custom wiring from Street Wires provides electrical power. Cooling the LS2 is a Be Cool reverse flow aluminum radiator and dual electric fans.
The drivetrain was completed with a TCI Streefighter 4L60E Transmission, a Moser 12-bolt with 33-spline axles, 4:11 Motive Gears, and a Detroit Tru-Trac for positive traction in any condition. Seven weeks later, the body arrived in its new resto-mod, two-tone black and yellow paint scheme. The difficult part was to not chip this custom paint job while reassembling the car. The underside was completed first. Stainless Steel Tri-Power four-wheel disc brakes were installed. A Hotchkis suspension was then mounted under the Chevelle, including QA1 adjustable shocks. The goal here was to have plenty of torque with no wheelhop. Finally, the fuel system was run with RockValley in a tank fuel system, a regulated fuel filter, and FAST fuel rails.
There were many challenges along the way, but the Chevelle made its first pre-SEMA run to Katech Engines for dyno testing and the Woodward Dream Cruise. The new LS2 combo tested out at over 450 hp and simulated low 12-second quarter-mile passes. Unfortunately, during the maiden voyage, road debris kicked up from a truck, struck the front, and damaged the freshly painted fender with two long gashes down to the bare metal. The car was shown with a fender cover over the damage during the Woodward weekend. Two weeks and $800 later, everything looked great again. This Chevelle now packs more power than it ever had in 1971, and has a youthful new look. How's that for middle-aged?