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  #1  
Old 28-09-2014, 08:02 AM
V8 Speed V8 Speed is offline
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1969 Chevelle SS396 / 454

This 1969 Chevelle was born wearing a Cortez silver paint job and sporting a blue interior. It was an original V8 car, sporting a 307 V8 under the hood and was driven for many many years by its owner Al until the late 80s.



However, by the late 1980s, the street use took its toll on the Chevelle's body and chassis, and Al decided it was time to disassemble the car and restore it.





He disassembled the car in his home garage with the help of his young son, and embarked on a journey to repair the rusty quarter panels as the first steps to bring this car back to life.

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  #2  
Old 28-09-2014, 08:32 AM
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skyper skyper is offline
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looking forward to this
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  #3  
Old 28-09-2014, 08:45 AM
V8 Speed V8 Speed is offline
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looking forward to this
Good to hear!

Unfortunately, as many people know, restoring classic muscle car takes time, money, and effort. He had the effort, but raising the family was the obvious priority, so his project speed was set on extra slow. However, Al was able to complete some tasks, including a very good job of installing a pair of original NOS Chevrolet quarter panels on both sides.







Time passed, the family moved into a bigger house with a bigger garage, and the Chevelle patiently waited for the next stage, which was the engine project.





---------- Post added at 05:38 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:38 PM ----------

The trusty 307 pulled this car over the roads for many years, but Al wanted more, so he and a buddy built a screaming 454 to give this car more go! The engine was built just past LS6 specifications, topped with an aluminum intake and Hooker headers.



Al build a test stand to break-in his rashly rebuilt engine right there in his garage. This allowed the engine to be ready to fire as soon as the car was finished.







---------- Post added at 05:39 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:38 PM ----------

He found a used 12 bolt rear axle, and had his chassis media blasted and painted and rebuild the front suspension components and bushings to restore the Chevelle's ride.

Al pulled the body off the frame to start the chassis restoration. Unfortunately, it was determined that the Chevelle's cabin floors were hiding more rust and was initially thought.





Interestingly, the topside it looked okay except for the body mount areas. The bottom side was scaly and Rusty.









---------- Post added at 05:41 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:39 PM ----------

This is when the body came to the V8 Speed & Resto Shop. After our initial inspection, it was determined that the best course of action would be to install a complete cabin and trunk floor from OPGI.



Our first step was to affix the body on our jig to ensure the floors would go in square and true. Our team use a plasma torch to speed the removal of the original floor.

---------- Post added at 05:42 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:41 PM ----------

The trunk floor was the first section to come out. After it was plasma cut, the crew went back and cleaned up the details around the perimeter where the new floor section would attach.













---------- Post added at 05:43 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:42 PM ----------

At this point, the crew took a slight detour from the floor to install some cowl box replacement panels. These rusted due to leaves and other debris being trapped between the cowl box and the fenders. This is a common occurrence and GM "A" body cars.





---------- Post added at 05:43 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:43 PM ----------

There were sections in the front of the body shell that needed repairing before the new cabin floor could go in. For example, we would be installing a full-length floor that ended at the factory seam at the base of the firewall. Our new floor required to clean sheet metal in the toe board area for proper installation, but the original floor was rusty at this seam. To remedy this, patch sections were ordered welded in place to provide clean sheet metal to attach to the new floor section. Patch panels were ordered from OPGI, cut down, and welded in place.

















---------- Post added at 05:45 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:43 PM ----------

Once the toe boards were repaired, the main cabin floor was ready to come out. It looks a little daunting on the jig with absolutely no floor, but the jig legs ensure the shape of the body structure does not change.





The OPGI floor section runs from the driver toe board all the way to the backseat support. The challenge was not only to change the floors, but also to repair rusty wheel houses without damaging the newly installed quarter panels.

The body was temporarily removed from the jig so the new floor could be slid in from the bottom, than the body was re-fixtured in proper position.

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  #4  
Old 28-09-2014, 08:51 AM
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skyper skyper is offline
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huge resto ...i like that clamp for lifting the body up with the engine crane....you's have a lot of good gear
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  #5  
Old 29-09-2014, 02:35 AM
V8 Speed V8 Speed is offline
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Many hours were spent carefully removing and trimming the center floor section. On a GM A body like our Chevelle, the floor is an intricate sandwich of layers, weaving through the rocker panels, floor, and various braces and supports.



The challenge was not only to change the floors, but also to repair rusty wheel houses without damaging the newly installed quarter panels.

Plasma cutting the large areas and careful spot will drilling allowed our team to separate the quarter panel from the wheelhouse without causing damage. However, there were areas where we drilled through the quarter panel which would require re-welding after the new wheel houses were installed.





At this point, we began to mock up and test fit the wheel houses and trunk drop off panels, in addition to test fitting the rear trunk section. This is a tedious process involving installation and removal of these panels multiple times to ensure proper fit. We also installed The main cabin for to make sure it fit properly and harmonious we with our other new sheet metal panels.









New rear outer wheel houses and trunk drop-off panels were obtained from OPGI and installed. The process involves much test fitting, removal, trimming, and re-fitting to get it all to fit properly. T The panels are then punched with holes for plug welding.







Once the wells were in place, the trunk floor was trimmed, fitted, and punched with holes in much the same manner.







The whole assembly of tubs, drops, and floor were clamped in place and test fitted multiple times, then screwed together with sheet metal screws before welding.









This floor comes with the seatbelt mounts and seat brackets preinstalled, along with brackets for a floor mounted center console.

Only when all the panels fit properly were they welded together.



Soon, our body shell was one solid piece again.

---------- Post added at 11:35 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:33 AM ----------

After the floors were complete, we attached the body shell to a rotisserie and sent it out to be media blasted. This revealed more rusty areas around the windows, top of the dash, and the rear package tray. These areas were all repaired with new steel after the shell was coated with a black epoxy primer to prevent rust.













Next, the body was turned on its side so the bottom of the floors could be seam sealed, painted with an industrial enamel, and then protected with 3M Body Schutz.





The next phase involved mounting the body onto the chassis that was restored by the owner. We installed new body bushings and hardware, taking time to align everything properly. Our intent was to not remove the body again.











The Chevelle then re-entered the body shop. After some hammer and dolly work was completed on small dings and dents, the NOS doors and fenders were installed, along with an original GM a hood and tail light packets. The entire car was lightly skim coated with Evercoat Quantum 1 filler to ensure that it would be arrow straight from and to end. The body also was seam sealed to prevent corrosion between panels.









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  #6  
Old 29-09-2014, 02:37 AM
V8 Speed V8 Speed is offline
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After the body filler was block sanded smooth, the car received several coats of Evercoat Super Build 4:1 sprayable polyester filler. The car was sprayed with an aerosol black guide coat to illustrate the high and low spots when the sanding process began.











The sprayable polyester was block sanded smooth, and small areas requiring additional attention were fixed. The grill and headlight assemblies were all installed to make sure they would fit after paint. It is important to test fit all the trim in this stage, as it is much harder to fix after the car has been painted. At this point, the crew also tested at the bumpers and lenses.









---------- Post added at 11:36 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:36 AM ----------

Next, the assembled body went into the paint booth for several coats of primer. This high build primer ensures that there will be no sanding scratches from the polyester to diminish the shine of the paint.





The body panels were disassembled from the car so both sides could be sanded and primed.





The interior of the car was sprayed was basket and sprayed with Dupont Imron industrial satin black coating for corrosion resistance.







The exterior panels were all wet block sanded to 600 grit before the first color codes were applied. The color is called Carbon Flash Metallic, and is a late model Chevrolet color. This color has a variety of metallic pigments and flake in it so it looks like black at first glance, but comes to life and the sunlight. The body went back into the spray booth and was masked except for the door and trunk jamb areas, which were the first to receive color and a protective clearcoat.













---------- Post added at 11:37 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:36 AM ----------

Next, the body was moved out of the paint booth and the body panels and parts were brought in.



The backsides of the fenders and hood were sprayed with the black Dupont Imron.



Then they were then masked, and prepped for their color and clear coats. It's important to spray the little parts like the taillight pockets, door hinges, and anything else to receive body color.









Back in the shop, our crew disassembled a pair of original GM bullet style mirrors and retrofitted the internals with modern power movements. This will add a modern touch to our classic Chevelle.










Proper hood alignment can be a challenge, even with new hood hinges. We find that the best bet is to have the original hinges rebuilt with new pivots to make the hood line up and fit like original. We had ours rebuilt by S&S Classic. They come back in a media blasted finished, we painted hours for protection.



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  #7  
Old 29-09-2014, 02:39 AM
V8 Speed V8 Speed is offline
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The crew was busy installing sound deadener in the cabin, and the wiring, plumbing, and brake components on the firewall. The steering system was connected to a new steering column.







A 3 inch Magnaflow exhaust system was modified to fit in our Chevelle. The Magnaflow kit comes with mandrel bent tubing and an X pipe, and stainless mufflers. We modified hours for additional clearance around the rear axle.





We did not want to make our final exhaust tip extensions until we had the bumper installed, so the exhaust was left short. It was fully TIG welded for a clean appearance.









Other underside details include a stainless gas tank, and new hardware.

---------- Post added at 11:38 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:37 AM ----------

Upfront, the core support was assembled with the Vintage Air air conditioning system, and all of the dash wiring was being installed.







New brake lines were bent along with a proportioning valve hidden behind the power booster.



A II Much fuel vent was mounted in the trunk to keep the gasoline vapors from leaking out from the gas cap.



The gauge cluster was cleaned and tested and the lenses were restored. All this was installed into a new dash face from OPGI. The little red LED functions as an alternator indicator light. The Vintage Air system uses a stock-type controller but the movements are all electric servo motors. The result is a clean and stock appearance.











---------- Post added at 11:39 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:38 AM ----------

Soon the car was moved back into the body shop for the final installation of the fenders, doors, and front sheet metal. Once the sheet metal was installed and properly aligned, it received a final wet sanding before being masked in preparation for exterior color and clear.











Although our car is not a true SS model, we decided to add a correct GM Chevelle SS stripe to the side for some color accent. We chose a bright red stripe color for maximum contrast against the black exterior color. We decided to spray the stripe in reverse, so the red was the first color to go on the outside of the body. Once it was applied, we masked off the final stripe design using a factory GM assembly manual as a guide. The dimensions are exactly as GM specified.









Once the stripe was taped off, the exterior coats of Standox Carbon Flash metallic were applied. Three coats of color were sprayed on the car, and then it was bathed in several layers of clear. Our strategy was to apply two layers of clear, and then "cut open" the clear with 800 grit sand paper to allow it to outgas and breathe.

















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Old 29-09-2014, 02:44 AM
V8 Speed V8 Speed is offline
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After a couple weeks, we cleaned and wet sanded the clear and rolled the car into the baking spray booth for its final clearcoat. We then applied to more coats of clear to ensure a deep luster and smooth finish.











At this point, the window rollers and regulators and tracks were all rebuilt and lubricated. We installed a stereo from Antique Auto Radios which looks exactly like stock, but features modern internals, MP3 and Bluetooth capability, but still retains the sliding red needle like a 1969 Chevrolet radio.







The interior assembly continued with original Chevrolet bucket seats that have been reupholstered with leather covers in the original pattern. The crew installed the side windows and weatherstripping at this point, along with the windshield and rear glass. Next up where the door panels, dash pad, carpeting, and other interior details.







Next came the installation of the headlights, grille, bezels, and taillights. The car was wet sanded and buffed using a multi step process to bring out a mirror like finish.









---------- Post added at 11:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:42 AM ----------

The theme for this car was the look of an SS 396, but with a few updates. We wanted a retro style wheel with a modern size and a high-performance tire, so we installed a set of 17 x 8" Rocket Racing Wheels in the hyper shot finish. This is a reflective dark gray spoke that changes color with various lighting conditions. The tires are BFGoodrich G Force Sport Comp 2 tires.





All the fluids were changed, brakes were bled, and the remaining interior items were installed. At this point the crew completed the exhaust tips exiting just below the rear bumper. The rear trunk was spatter coated in original black and gray pattern.


















It was finally time for an initial test drive where we tuned the carburetor on a chassis dyno. We learned several things after warming up the car and running it on the rollers. We found the used rear differential to be worn out and the gears and housing were rusty. The posi unit chattered like crazy and the clutches were gone, so we installed a new set of gears and a Detroit True Track differential to remedy that problem.





Changing the rear gear also required the installation of a new Speedometer drive gear.





The dyno showed us some lean areas in the fuel curve, so we tuned the 750 carb but were not happy with the result, so we switched the carburetor for a Holley Street Avenger 870 CFM unit to better supply the thirsty 454. This tuneup process was verified on the chassis dyno with a wideband oxygen sensor installed in the exhaust for optimum air fuel ratio.





We didn't do full power pulls on the dyno yet, as the car is super-fresh and is still not broken in. After a 4-500 miles we'll change the fluids again and see what it does. We'll be running Royal Purple synthetics to reduce friction as well as keep the moisture at bay.

We put some miles on the car and are quite happy with the result. The car is stunning in any light, turn heads everywhere does, and the performance is excellent. It feels new and tight, the steering is crisp, and that 454 makes tons of tire frying torque!





The crew at the V8 Speed & Resto Shop did an outstanding job on this car, and we are grateful for an owner who was great to work with and who has become a good friend.

This car will be on display at the 2014 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals show in Rosemont, Illinois, November 22-23, 2014. Come see it in person! we'll also be posting a video feature on the car soon!

Last edited by V8 Speed; 29-09-2014 at 02:47 AM..
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  #9  
Old 29-09-2014, 08:50 AM
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Gambit Gambit is offline
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Nice work!! Followed a few of your builds on lat-g. Good to see you on here
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  #10  
Old 29-09-2014, 09:07 AM
V8 Speed V8 Speed is offline
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Nice work!! Followed a few of your builds on lat-g. Good to see you on here
Thank you! I'm glad I found this site, lots of stuff to page through!
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Old 29-09-2014, 09:12 AM
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GM NUT GM NUT is offline
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Very nice guys, well done!
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Old 08-10-2014, 08:25 AM
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PANA-YAMITHIS PANA-YAMITHIS is offline
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Fricken hell that looks tuff! Love it!
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Old 08-10-2014, 09:35 AM
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chevL chevL is offline
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Great story, nice car. So does Al still own the car?
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Keep our muscle cars safe, from rust and overheating, And forgive those who drive hybrid cars, As we forgive those who drive Asian cars, And lead us not into vanity, But deliver us from collisions, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever.
Amen.
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  #14  
Old 10-10-2014, 08:05 AM
V8 Speed V8 Speed is offline
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Al does still own the car, and he's got 2 generations of offspring that have claimed it for themselves already!
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Old 13-10-2014, 09:50 AM
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Tim 454 Tim 454 is offline
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Don't know what I'm more jealous of.. The quality of the build or the fantastic photo documentation of it !!
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