Bryan Goff pulls his freshly painted ’65 Chevelle into his favorite Petaluma, California, gas station to fill up for the evening’s cruise. He is approached by a man his father’s age with kind but envious eyes. The man says, “I had a car just like that, bought it new right off the showroom floor.” Bryan smiles, as he already knows the second half of this story. “I sold it for nothing long ago and wish I still had it,” he continued. We’ve all heard it before; had to it sell for college, a house, improvements, or a kid. Now when we see the new models come out, we don’t buy them thinking they will increase in value and it was no different in the ’60s and ’70s. Bryan’s generation was the first to see these muscle cars as an investment from the start. It wasn’t until it was too late that the baby boomers saw what was happening with these now classic cars. Bryan took this sentiment to heart and even his friends tease that he would probably be buried in his car. “That would be an insult to the car,” Bryan said jokingly.
He had an appreciation for cars early in life as his dad put him to work at his body shop in Los Angeles. Ten-year-old Bryan, oozing with energy, was put to work wet-sanding cars before they got their first coat of color. He went on to say, “Dad always had an old car or 11 at the house and he was very mechanically inclined.” Bryan doesn’t recall a teacher/student relationship but he took every opportunity to watch. The real wrenching didn’t start until he got his first car months before his 16th birthday.
The father-and-son pair checked out swap meets, car shows, and local ads for inspiration. Bryan developed a taste for early Impalas and box Novas. They predicted Impala’s near-20-foot nose to tail would be too much for the high school parking lots and drive-through lanes, but the Nova was a little petite. The early Chevelles were a perfect middle ground. Pop’s shop serviced the local police cars after the chase-induced fender benders, which led to the discovery of an officer’s ’65 Chevelle up for sale.
The functional drivetrain, primer body, and trunk full of trim was the perfect start for the sophomore. Dad surprised him with a straight body and new paintjob for his 16th birthday. For a kid with a hot street car, Bryan managed to avoid getting any speeding tickets, but there were close calls. Just being a kid in a bright-red muscle car seemed to be reason enough to warrant being pulled over.
Grown up, Bryan signed up for the Coast Guard just out of high school and has served for over 15 years. Throughout his enlistment he has moved all over California and even as far as Baltimore. Bryan drove the Chevelle everywhere he served. When he ended up in San Diego, he knew the 100,000 miles he had put on it had worn the car out, and it was ready to be freshened up. Dad kindly lent his carport to Bryan for repairs but while Bryan was on active duty, Dad didn’t expect much to get done. One day he walked over to see what Bryan had completed and saw it half apart. He was proud to see his son take advantage of the space and that he was doing it right. Bryan also saw this as the time to build it from ground up exactly the way he wanted it.
When it came time to take care of the engine, Bryan took it to Vaca Performance in Downey, California. It was a reputable shop that could dyno all the bugs out of the stroker before it went into the car. Toward the end of the build, Bryan got a call from the shop, “I know you’re going to say yes to this, but I have to ask you anyway. There’s a guy here from Chevy High Performance magazine who wants to use your engine for an article,” builder Mike said. Bryan was all for it. The 383ci small-block Chevy served as a carburetor test mule. Since then Bryan was eager to contact CHP again once the build was complete.
Years later the Chevelle finally made it home to Petaluma and after only a couple months of debugging, we were there to shoot it. Not only does it look like a Pro Touring car, it is one. Bryan grew up barreling down the twisties of Southern California with his friends, always looking to see how quickly he could make the pass. From then on, turning was always more important than going fast in a straight line, though he dabbles in that as well.
Bryan has plans to take the Chevelle to this year’s Return to the Coast event at the former El Toro Marine Base, and wants to stretch its legs and really see what it can do in a more controlled environment. He also wants to check out the Silver State Classic and Mohave Mile, but only after his final modification. He built the engine with 8:1 compression with anticipation of a supercharger. That should be plenty to power his Chevelle into some pretty impressive numbers. Bryan expects to immerse himself in the automotive industry after his fast-approaching retirement date from the Air Force Coast Guard; he hopes to work with cars every day and acquire a couple more too.
The 30-year-old 350 begged for retirement and made way for a 383ci stroker built for a supercharger. To minimize the debugging stage and the engine bill, Bryan wanted to run it naturally aspirated for a while. The bottom end is prepared for the extra stress with all forged Eagle components. He chose 31cc pistons, H-beam rods, and a 3.75-inch stroke crankshaft. He chose an Edelbrock 0.539/0.548-inch lift, 234/238 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift hydraulic roller camshaft, COMP lifters, pushrods, and 1.6/1.52 ratio roller rockers. The Edelbrock Performer RPM cylinder heads made their way off the original he added back in 1998. Final assembly pieces included an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold, Demon 750-cfm carburetor, Milodon oil pan, CompuTronix distributor, and Hedman headers with 15/8-inch primary tubes. The 3-inch collectors lead into Flowmaster tubing, QTP electric cutouts, and 40-series mufflers. He wanted this to be a fun car to drive and also be comfortable on the freeway for extended trips. He decided on a B&M Pro Stick controlled 200-4R automatic overdrive with a Fourth gear ratio of 0.67 for low cruise rpm and reasonable mileage. The Moser 12-bolt’s Wavetrac Posi and 3.08:1 gear ratio were chosen with those same goals in mind.
Even though this is Bryan’s first frame-off build, he approached it like a pro. He took every bolt off the car and completely restored the frame and inner tinwork. He finished the frame with POR15 and replaced every bolt with stainless steel pieces from Totally Stainless. One of Bryan’s favorite parts of the car is the aluminum radiator support by AutoRad. Bryan did a lot of research through forums like Pro-Touring.com and TeamChevelle.com, as well as at the car shows to make the right decisions. He wanted to see how the fit and performance was before shelling out the dough. Up front he went with VariShock coilovers, RideTech 1.5-inch sway bar, AFX spindles, AGR 12:1 steering box, and ididit steering column. Out back he’s running Hotchkis springs and sway bar with VariShock damping.
Bryan practically grew up in a body shop, and he would prefer to never sand or prep a car again if he didn’t have to. Bryan replaced both fenders and doors as the originals weren’t worth the time they would need. The body went down to Dad’s old shop, M&S Body Shop in Santa Monica, California, for the final stages. They sprayed a bright coat of Glasurit Indian Red, and it was more intense than Bryan ever imagined. All the trim and little bits also received a fresh polishing, including the bumpers.
Bryan spent most of his time in the interior so there was no skimping around here. The bench seats were re-covered in a factory-style vinyl by Route 66 Upholstery in Petaluma, California, but that’s where the factory look stops. The door handles, window cranks, and pedals are all billet aluminum from Clayton Machine Works. The dashboard features Auto Meter ProComp gauges that are fitted into a Thunder Road dash. The steering wheel blends perfectly with the billet and vinyl parts. The stereo system consists of a Kenwood Bluetooth head unit, Kicker 500- and 1,000-watt amps, a pair of both 6x9- and 6-inch Kicker speakers, along with a Kicker 12-inch Solo-Baric subwoofer—a perfect combination to blast dubstep.
A Hyrdatech hydraulic powered booster sits behind a CPP-polished master cylinder for an ultra-sleek look. Bryan replaced all of the factory lines to the KORE3 C6 Corvette brakes front and rear. Drilled Corvette rotors hide behind a set of 18x8 Rocket Racing Wheels’ Booster Ultra-Light rollers. Bryan hasn’t fully experienced the capabilities of his braking system, but soon will when he hits the pavement at Return to the Coast!