Think about General George S. Patton standing in front of a giant American flag addressing the troops in his great speech in the beginning of the movie Patton, or the Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA album cover. The images in this story celebrate the freedom of being an American and driving American iron. Sure, anybody can buy a brand-new car and pretend theyre cool. But it takes a real Bow-Tie believer to dig up an old Chevy and turn it into a thing of beauty.
According to Joe Maisano, hes been a musclecar lover since before he could drive. His cousin (and Intro Custom Wheels partner) John Seggie has always been his most influential motor-head friend. When it came time to build a car, Joe figured hed find a nice driver and fix it up a little to show off his new line of wheels. The 65 Chevelle had always been his favorite, and five years ago he chanced upon a sweetheart drop-top. It started out as a three-month driver restoration, Joe says, but it became a 2-½-year frame-off effort that is now one of Intro Wheels display cars.
Since building a driver was his primary directive, Joe decided the Chevelle needed a dependable yet powerful small-block. The obvious choice was a GM Performance Parts ZZ3 350 making 345 hp. As you probably know, the ZZ3 is outfitted with aluminum 1.94/1.50-inch valve heads, a great hydraulic roller camshaft, Holley flange dual-plane intake, and an HEI distributor. To this, Joe added a slick set of GM Performance Parts Bow-Tie rocker covers. He powdercoated the intake and the water pump, polished the valve covers, and topped it all off with an 850-cfm Edelbrock Quadrajet carburetor and a set of Hedman coated headers. Mesa Muffler completed the effort with a nice dual 2-½-inch exhaust routed to a pair of Flowmaster mufflers.
Of course, if youre going to go cruisin, then a TH700-R4 automatic overdrive from C&O Trans-missions is just the ticket for low-key highway haulin. Joe directs the trans with a B&M Quicksilver shifter while a posi-equipped 3.73 rear gear in the 12-bolt ensures that the Chevelle can accelerate with authority. Since Joes gig is trick wheels, he had the 12-bolt narrowed by 1 inch on both sides and assembled by J&S Gears in Huntington Beach, California, to allow for more positive offset. Did we mention the wheels? Joe chose Vista-style 18x7 fronts and 20x8-½ rears for rolling stock mounted with 225/35ZR18 Falken fronts and 255/35ZR20 Falkens in the rear. Energy Suspension bushings, a 1-½-inch front sway bar, and a complete set of Toxic shock absorbers control the remainder of the Chevelles suspension.
Of course, all of this is cool and capable of plenty of sparkle. But for true boulevard appeal, you have to have the visual goods to back up the horsepower. Joe knows this as well as anyone, so he took the Chevelle to El Segundo Auto Body in (you guessed it) El Segundo, California, where the guys in the body shop massaged the Chevelles panels razor straight. Once the Chevelle was blocked and prepped, Wally Fatke shot everything in Ferrari Red using Glasurit paint and materials.
Next came New Old Stock (NOS) glass, then a stint at B&R Upholstery in Hawthorne, California, where everything thats supposed to be soft and supple received a covering of black German synthetic leather with trick embroidered seat inserts front and rear. Joe also restored all the instruments, shaved the dashpad area, and chose an Alpine stereo with a CD changer driving multiple speakers installed by Electronic Interior in Huntington Beach, California. Then he replaced all the interior and exterior trim with goodies from both Original Parts Group and True Connections.
In the image world, stance is everything. The beauty of technology is that now Joe can have that in-the-weeds look and still drive the Chevelle courtesy of an air suspension system that offers ride height adjustments at the touch of a button. The Chevelle took a trip to Master Image Customs in Placentia, California, for installation of a complete front to back airbag suspension that drops the Chevelle so low that the front crossmember can flatten worms when the pressure is dumped. To complete the system, the 6½-gallon air tank and compressor are hidden in the trunk along with fast-acting, 3/8-inch lines and solenoids that can change altitude in the blink of an eye. True Connections supplied the front disc brakes. Even though Joe received plenty of professional help, it still came down to hours of labor in cousin Bobby Yamanes garage screwing this red rascal together with help and encouragement from mentor John Seggie.
American iron is all about power and style. Add a dash of driveability and youve got Joe Maisanos 65 Chevelle SS convertible. The only thing left to do is find a pleasing right-seat partner, line up some excellent driving tunes, and hit the road. It doesnt get much better than that. If it does, you call us.