1967 Chevrolet Chevelle - How George Rolls
Hands-On Owner Reanimates His Third ’67 Chevelle
From the July, 2011 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Ro McGonegal
Photography by Henry De Los Santos, Sean Haggai
George Mobayed, now 50 years old, looked at the sky, smiled wistfully, and said: “In the late ’70s I was 18 and working for Super Shops’ number-one store in Garden Grove [California] selling performance parts and driving a ’67 SS daily. It had a Sonny Bryant big-block, B&M Turbo 400, 4.88 rear, and ladder bars. I cruised the streets of Orange, Anaheim, and Huntington Beach.” He continued with a wink: “As I remember it, street racing was actually legal in those days and running at OCIR (Orange County International Raceway) for fun whenever I could get there. Life was good!” He sold the car in ’80 and bought another ’67 a year later. George’s “bait car” was too sweet for some miscreant to resist. Project carless now, George “got caught up in life, college, the responsibilities of raising a family, and well, you know the story.”
Many, many moons later, in September of 2000, his wife, Cariann, saw an ad for a car show at the Orange County Fairgrounds and asked if he’d like to go. It was then that the secret George had tamped down for all those years came rushing to the surface. After 30 minutes of walking the show he felt that old and undeniable bone-deep buzz creep over him. “I felt like I had just run into a best friend whom I’d lost contact with for 20 years and was ecstatic about seeing him again,” he says. Then and there, he confessed to being a hot car junkie and that he always had been. George was ready to run again.
“I had to create another ’67 SS, and my intention was to go all the way this time. I found a great candidate in Texas for $2,000, a series 138, four-speed, gauge (ammeter, coolant temp, oil pressure, and tachometer) car with no motor or transmission.” Going all the way meant serious shekels. Regardless, George did the work himself (save for paint and body, glass and headliner) and still dropped large on parts and services.
“The project was underway,” George says. “My wife thought I’d lost it and my daughter, Macy, didn’t understand why the ‘new woman’ in my life was consuming all of my free time. Needless to say, I had to pull back and balance things with my family. Anyone with a wife and kids who has restored, or is attempting to restore, a car knows exactly what I’m talking about. I am fortunate enough to have a wife who grew up with her dad’s hot rods and is a true car girl. Otherwise, I’m sure things would have been much harder for me.”
The gestation took about three years. The Mobayeds drive it for all its worth. That includes sons Jadin and Ryan. “During the restoration, my son Jadin was born. He’s 4 now and gets under the car alongside me with his collection of toy tools to help me wrench. When I fire it up, he bolts out of the house and says loudly, ‘Take me, take me.’ I had to buy him a cool Simpson Racing car seat just for the Chevelle. He’ll also yell, ‘Go faster, daddy,’ when we’re cruising around and just loves being in and around it. He definitely has it in his blood … He doesn’t even know that the car will be his someday to pass down to his kids. Ryan, 2, was special. He had heart surgery when he was only two weeks out of the gate—quite the stuff of a miracle baby.”
George did not hesitate. He did the obvious. He bought a ’69 Road Runner that “all of us will be restoring for Ryan in the years to come.” Oh yeah! Roll daddy, roll!
As a 138 series car, this Chevelle was built with a big-block. George bought his without an engine or transmission, but determined that a bigger big-block was quite in order. He wanted 540 ci where there were once only 396. It was a bolt-in deal that included a delectable heavy-duty, close-ratio (2.20:1 low gear) M22 four-speed. The shining stars at Nelson Racing in Chatsworth machined the Merlin II block, reaching a 4.500x4.25 bore and stroke for the inches they needed. Nelson based the combination on a Callies 4340 crankshaft, Crower 4340 H-beam rods, and JE 2618 pistons and balanced the assembly internally. The oiling system is composed of a Moroso six-quart sump and accompanying Melling high-volume pump. LSM Engineering in Waterford, Michigan, turned out a custom hydraulic roller with 0.663-inch lift on both valves and durations of 258/264 degrees at 0.050 inch. The cam installation included Cloyes double-roller timing gear, COMP steel roller rockers, Trick Flow springs, titanium retainers, panatela-sized Smith Brothers 0.080-wall pushrods, and SFI-approved balancer. At the other end of the L.A. sprawl, Dr. J’s Performance in Anaheim worked on the Pro Topline 360cc intake runner aluminum heads, fitting 2.300- and 1.888-inch valves, including a sharp valvejob. Steve Whipple and Smitty Smith at Edelbrock massaged an Edelbrock Victor 454-R intake over the top of them. A Holley HP1000 air/fuel mixer and K&N element in the middle of it. Ignition and its propagation are created by a Crane Fireball box in conjunction with an MSD Pro Billet distributor. Total timing is 34 degrees. Evacuating poisonous gases is the province of Dawson Racing in Nuevo and includes 2-inch primary pipes feeding 31/2-inch collectors, the obligatory X-pipe, and crackly Flowmaster 40 mufflers. The best dyno sheet read 685 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm and 650 hp at 6,500 rpm. We can’t find a power-adder anywhere. George plumbed the bomb with a Ron Davis dual-fan radiator, Edelbrock water pump and 160-gph fuel pump, AN-8 supply and return lines snaking from the stock tank, and an Aeromotive regulator. Motor and transmission are solidly mounted. For his torque receptor, George went way back and found an M22 that was fixed with a Super case and a steel mid-plate for added strength. He works the thing with a Hurst Competition Plus shifter and a McLeod RST twin disc clutch assembly. The kicker is the Gear Vendors overdrive unit sprouting from the back of it—a superstrong unit that adds more than invigorated fuel mileage. Now George has eight forward gears, should he desire, along with a deep overdrive for the big highway. A 3-inch diameter aluminum driveshaft joins with the original 12-bolt as massaged by Currie (more splines on the thicker axles, C-clip eliminators, and 3.73:1 gears on a new positraction differential).
George wasn’t looking to torch L.A. He just wanted a smooth cruiser (packing a beavertail sap), so he removed the body, sandblasted the frame, and shellacked it with black powdercoating. Then, he ran stainless steel brake lines. He set the stance with Eibach 2-inch lowering springs and staunched wheel movement with KYB gas-charged shocks. He retained the original antisway bars but fitted new links and bushings. He beefed up the back end with Edelbrock sway bar, antihop bars and its upper and (adjustable) lower control arms as well.
With the cash roll considerably smaller than when he began, George opted for a completely redone but completely stock interior. To provide a firm foundation for electrical systems, he installed an M&H Electric wiring harness. Henry Torres in Riverside applied repro seat covers, door panels, and rear panels while George had the instruments refurbished by Instrument Services in Roscoe, Illinois. He graced the tiller with an Original Parts Group Elite GT 14-inch steering wheel, and then grabbed a couple of cool ones to muse about it. Is there music? “I have a Classic Autosound head unit, but it’s not connected because I couldn’t hear it anyway!”
Though he dragged it out of Texas, George didn’t get a dry-climate cherry. To make it whole again, the carcass needed a few small items: quarter-panels, floorpan, trunk pan, and work to the seams and the backlight surround—all the usual patch portions. Once all that was in place, StarSide Design in Riverside rubbed the Chevelle’s shoulders and flanks for about a month. Then, they sprayed the ’02 Caddy CTS Blue Onyx basecoat and sealed it with four coats of clear. Dry to the touch, George was helped by Joel at JH Restorations in Riverside with the installation of the body on the chassis. Then, Joel put up the new glass and headliner. CHP
Since he runs 15-inch wheels, George was limited to the largest brake/caliper combination that will fit beneath them. With the two-piston calipers attached, the 12-inch Master Power discs do not interfere with the rims. The rear discs are a Currie standby: cross-drilled and chamfered 11-inch Explorer. George wisely put a Hydro Boost unit behind the MP master cylinder. The rims are steel 15x7 and 15x8 Wheel Vintiques rallies, showing 215/60 BFG T/A radials up front and 275/60s on the end that twirls. While we lean more toward the efficacy of a lower aspect ratio on a larger diameter rim, George’s combo looks bitchin and altogether down with the lowered A-body. We like it. By taking the low road, George saved a bunch of money, too.