1970 Chevelle Restoration
Article by Mark Trotta
Based on the GM "A-body" platform, 1964-1972 Chevelle's are very sought after by muscle car collectors and racers alike. Parts are plentiful, interchangeability is good, and there is great aftermarket coverage. Dozens of companies offer nearly every replacement part needed for your Chevelle restoration.
For 1970, the Chevelle exterior was completely restyled, including new front sheet-metal and tail-lamps mounted in the rear bumper. Engine choices included the standard 155 horsepower six-cylinder, a 200-horsepower 307ci V8, a pair of 350ci small-blocks, and three big-block engines.
The Chevelle seen in these pictures left the factory as a Malibu sport coupe, equipped with a small-block V8, four-speed transmission, bucket seats and floor console. The exterior was black cherry (burgundy) with a black vinyl top. The interior sported white seats with black dashboard and carpet.
The former owner of this Chevelle was afflicted with the malady known as "hot-rod-magazine-itus", which causes unsuspecting young motorheads to swap good factory pieces with aftermarket replacements that don't help street performance.
When purchased, the engine was a non-original 327ci small block with a 350-horsepower cam, an oversized dual-feed carburetor on a single-plane manifold, and dual-point distributor with mechanical advance. The engine made great power after 3,000 rpm, but was sluggish at lower RPMs. Since the car was to used as a daily driver, I needed to bring the engine performance back to a streetable level.
The original exhaust system was gone - in it's place was a pair of glass-pack mufflers hanging off the back of aftermarket headers. Air shocks and traction bars were added, and the factory rear axle ring and pinion had been swapped for 4.11 gears.
On the outside, the factory rally wheels were replaced with oversize Cragar S/S mags which stuck out of the wheel-wells. The rear fender wells were cut and six-inch fender flares were added. This modification may have been cool in the seventies, but did not belong on this classic Chevy! Removing the flares and repairing both rear quarter panels would be the most time-consuming part of this restoration.
Small Block Chevy Engine Rebuild
The first step was get the car to be more streetable, which started with camshaft selection. There are too many choices here, and it's very easy to pick the wrong cam for your SBC motor. I kept it simple - I took out the 350hp cam and installed a factory-spec 300hp cam. The top end, which included the cylinder heads, camshaft, timing chain and gears, intake manifold and carburetor, were all changed together.
Once the motor was back together, it was time to do something about the front drum brakes. As you may know, all 1964-1972 A-body cars shared the same brakes (and suspension), and the front discs were interchangeable from 1968 to 1972. These include Buick Skylarks, Olds Cutlasses and 4-4-2s, Pontiac Lemans and GTO, and Chevy Chevelles and Monte Carlos. I was able to locate a used front disc setup locally.
Read: Drum to Disc Brake Conversion
Seems like this 1970 Chevelle had received all the "boy racer" additions. Inside, a red shaggy carpet ran underneath the factory console, which had been cut (hacked) to accommodate an non-stock Hurst shifter. The factory radio had been replaced with a cheap aftermarket unit.
Repairing the bodywork was very time-consuming. I stripped every inch of the paint down to bare metal and repaired all the rust spots.
Read: 1970 Chevelle Bodywork
While this Chevelle was my daily driver, I went through two rear sets of Pro-trac L60 tires. They were the most enjoyable tires I ever wore out!