Next up was the Chevelle's suspension system. Though the previous owner had installed Hotchkis springs at all four corners, the balance of the components were original and in need of refreshing. "When I jumped on it, the car floated to the left," Freelin told us. "It was like I could feel parts bending." The stock lower control arms were boxed, powdercoated, and treated to poly bushings; an assortment of new components from Global West, Hotchkis, and Bilstein completed the suspension renewal. "It's now strong enough to make me confident, and it goes straight," Freelin reports. When asked about tackling the twisties, he admits, "Turning is an added benefit-it responds like right now-but I can't turn too quickly with the stock seats, or I slide right off!" (Stock-looking seats with built-up bolsters to permit higher-g maneuvers are in the works.)

A big part of the veteran A-body's newfound turning prowess came from Freelin's new rolling stock. Looking for eye candy as well as improved stopping power, a Baer Track Plus kit replaced the stock binders; of course, this necessitated a wheel and tire change, so 17-inch Americans clad in sticky Nitto 555 rubber were mounted up. "The car still looks stock, yet upgraded," Freelin commented. "I wanted to fill the wheelwells and fit the Baers in." Mission accomplished there. The brake work was done by Freelin with his friends Mark, Art, and Kevin at the latter's shop, Penna Volvo in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. (Kevin's '68 Camaro graced our Nov. '05 cover.)

Make no mistake about it, Freelin's Malibu has made him one happy camper. "It rides tight," he reports. "It's not cushy. And when you jump on it, boy, it's something. It'll get totally loose in Second's a thrill." But the car hobby camaraderie Freelin has found seems to be just as important. "I enjoy showing the car, meeting new people, and talking about their projects," he tells us. Hearing Freelin talk about it, the time spent with family and friends at various shows is good for the soul, but re-embracing his old hobby has provided solitary therapy as well. "Owning a car like this is stressful sometimes," he observes. "But it's also a stress reliever, even just waxing a fender after work." We think you've proved the point, Bill: The AMA may not prescribe it, but a fast, good-looking Chevy is obviously good for the heart.

Speed Reading
'65 Chevelle Malibu SS
Bill Freelin
Mission Viejo, CA

Transmission: Turbo 400 with Trans-Go reprogramming kit and Hayden cooler, Hughes converter (2,400-rpm stall speed), Hurst Quarter Shift shifter and Lokar Electric Kickdown Kit
Rear axle: GM 12-bolt Posi, Summit support diff cover, 3.31:1 gears, OPG performance stock axlesDriveshaft: stock steel
Wheels: American Torq-Thrust II, 17x7 and 17x8
Tires: Nitto 555, 235/45ZR17 and 255/45ZR17