This story has a very happy ending. An ancient itch got scratched. A boy became a man. A father and son reunion if ever there was one. Male bonding at its finest. Presumably, it began with the father's father and was part of his gene pool, inevitably passed on to his son, who invariably invested his son with it.
"Little did I know that my genetic disposition for fast cars that I inherited from my dad had been genetically transferred to my eldest son, Mike. In Mike's case, though, he's a very talented mechanic in addition to having a passion for anything that has a 10-second potential. He had a pony car that spent as much time on the track as it did on the road. His natural mechanical inclination figured high in the learning process," says proud dad Andy Haas.
Coming up on the old man's side is a familiar, parallel tale. "I grew up in the '60s, graduating from high school in 1970. New musclecars ruled the roads. Most of my days were spent fantasizing about owning such a car, but given my economic circumstances, there was no way I could actually afford to have one. I'd spend hours in my '65 Rambler going from dealer to dealer looking at the inventories on the lots. I always looked for four-speed cars to make that day's fantasy complete. The attitude where we lived was that automatics were for women and sissies," Andy confesses.
Towards the end of his senior year, he spied an LS6 Chevelle, in Fathom Blue with a white gut, on the floor of Baierl Chevrolet in Wexford, Pennsylvania. It had an M22 and 4.10 gears. It stung him. It followed him around all day. When the final bell rang, he was in his ride making the 15 minute pass to Baierl, something he did every day. He sat in it. He craned his neck under the hood. He got down and looked at it from underneath. He tried to be as cool as possible for someone who hadn't got dime. Finally, the salesman politely asked him to get the hell out. "I never forgot that car and how stunning it was," says Andy.
But his passion waned. He got on with life, went to college, got married and bought a house, had four kids, and then he stopped and looked around. It was time to play now. He had the discretionary income now. He had the time now. He had Mike. He shucked his business duds and jumped ship. As a well-heeled retiree, he'd have more than enough time to put his stuff together.
"I realized that the time had come to find that SS Chevelle I wanted so badly when I was 17," says Andy. "I would have the car and my eldest son as a partner. Mike provides the technical expertise that I never had the ability to develop. My favorite car of all time, being the generational nexus to my son. It doesn't get any better than that."
Andy found an outpost of information called chevelles.com (aka Team Chevelle or TC) and got to know Rick Nelson, TC's expert on '70 A-bodies. Nelson convinced him to buy a documented LS5 dark green SS Coupe that he could sell off when his idol appeared. About two weeks later, it did: a clone fresh from a body-off and with the coveted M22. Andy bought it on the spot.
The LS5 coupe, though nicely repowered with a 402, was a structural shambles. From toe kicks to rear bumper, every bit of metal was infected. The swap-out added 12 months to the rehab. That's where the real story begins.
The odyssey began. Andy and Mike hauled the stripped hulk and loose sheetmetal from their home in Butler to Multi Media Stripping in Pulaski, Pennsylvania. They contracted Pete Kasula and Jerry Dobrozradvic for the reconstruction (including a special blasting process and rust inhibitor applied before the new sheetmetal was hung). Yikes! They were in it up to their jowls for a year, merrily replacing just about every metal piece in or on the thing: frame, all the floors, braces, rear taillight panel, windshield cowl, core support, filler panel between deck lid and backlight, and a door. When aftermarket sections were unavailable, the pair picked through donors at Sundell's Salvage Yard in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, and Shelby, North Carolina. Finally, Lee Stuchell at North Coast Rods in Ashtabula, Ohio, applied the PPG clearcoat Arrival Blue metallic and striped it out with House of Kolor white pearl.
Andy and Mike are men after our own heart. The interior is pleasingly stock and still sports the factory Delco AM/FM mono unit. TNT Interiors in Youngstown, Ohio, laid in the repro stock vinyl. Other than Auto Meter oil pressure and water temperature gauges, the car is as it was when Andy first put eyes to it many long years ago. And that is what he remembers.
Ed Steffey's Transfer Performance Machine in Transfer, Pennsylvania, built the engine for Andy. TPM's Ted Miller began with a '69 454 cylinder case, did the requisite machine work, and cleaned the holes up with a 0.030-inch overbore. He used the stock LS5 crankshaft and connecting rods but posed them with Wiseco 36cc pistons and Speed Pro stainless ring packs. So the motor would always be safe on pump gas, the compression ratio is a sane 10.5:1. Crank and cam are connected by a Cloyes timing gear. Cam specs (mum's da woid, of course) came from Ed Curtis at Flowtech Engineering in Coventry, Rhode Island, and Comp Cams applied them to a solid roller core. Ted followed up with Comp pushrods, valve springs, and Pro Magnum rocker arms. Nothing like modern cylinder heads to wake this baby up! AFR 305s (ported, polished, CNC-machined) have solid bronze valve guides and 2.25-/1.88-inch valves, just about right for that 468. The heads are straddled by an Edelbrock Air Gap manifold humping a Holley 830-cfm double-pumper carburetor and a Billet Specialties air lid. A Stealth stainless steel fuel tank from Rick's Hot Rod Shop in El Paso, Texas, includes a submerged Aeromotive A1000 pump and is connected to the motor via AN-10 lines. The ol' sparkaroo snaps 36 degrees violent through an MSD box and Pro Billet distributor. Spent combustion exits through custom Stainless Works headers featuring 2-inch primary pipes and 3-inch collectors, and thence to a Pypes X-pipe and on to a Stainless Works 3-inch exhaust. When put to the test on the Auto Service and Performance (Allison Park, Pennsylvania) Mustang Dyno, Andy's new powerplant laid down a healthy 530 hp and 450 lb-ft at the rear wheels. On the opposition, not the mythical heavy-duty four-speed ("the matching numbers M22 was too valuable to sit in harm's way"), but a real-life Tremec TKO 600 five-speed (2.87, 1.89, 1.28, 1.00, 0.64:1) taking torque through a McLeod Dual Performance 12-inch pressure plate and disc. Andy contends with a Pro 5 shifter and grunt ropes down a 4-inch Denny's Driveshaft T6 aluminum propeller. The original 3.73 Posi-Traction 12-bolt axle was thoroughly massaged (Eaton carrier, Richmond gears) by Hoss's Gear Shop in Norvelt, Pennsylvania.
With the body off and heavily sedated, Micky Hale's crew at North Coast Rods drew out the frame, blasted it, smoothed it, and covered it with POR-15. All the other components were powdercoated and polished as necessary. The underside of the car is painted glossy as well. Didn't the 12-bolt housing follow right along, getting smoothed over and painted shiny? Certainly there would be more to this Chevelle's illustrious rebirth than hustling a straight line. Evasive maneuvers would be necessary, crucial. Occasionally slinging the ass end out goin' up the canyon, huh, pard? A necessary staple of the street runner's fantastic diet. To manage the stress, North Coast put Global West tubular upper and lower control arms front and rear, Coil Spring Specialties springs at all corners, and followed up with QA1 adjustable dampers. The springs bring the Chevelle's center of gravity 2 inches closer to the ground, the QAs cope with wheel movement, the Global West and Hotchkis front and rear bars keep the body level, and the fat tires move real fast under the Flaming River 12:1 steering.
Brakes & Wheels
Chevelles like Andy's have an abundance of room under their fenders, so it was no trick to fit Boze Fatal 18x8 and 18x10 hoops beneath them. Rubber for this bad dad is no-nonsense Nitto 555, 255/45 on the pointing end and a nice fat 295/45 onna ass end. Andy wanted plenty of braking power to counter the Rat's momentum, so he staged Wilwood six-piston calipers and 14-inch rotors on the stock spindles and hung four-piston, 13-inch plates at the back.