Ron Cherry: ’69 Chevelle with a heritage
June 8, 2018
Although Tim Moore does not have a long heritage with this particular '69 Chevelle, it does represent one in a couple of ways. First, it is in a long line of hot cars he built with his late father.
"He owned 78 classic cars and hot rods in his lifetime," Tim said. "I built eight of them from the ground up with him." Then he said with a chuckle, "I never had to own a hot car as a kid because I drove my dad's."
Secondly, he built his Chevelle to be like cars he remembered from high school.
"In the '70s, your grandmother gave you her car when she gave up driving it. Then a buddy had a hot engine from a Corvette or a drag car that you dropped in it," he said. "I tried to build the Chevelle so that it had that feel. But everything on it is new or state of the art."
Recapturing his youth
It was that desire to have a car like those from his younger days that led Tim to start searching the Internet eight years ago.
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"I was looking for a '67 Chevelle, a car I'd wanted since high school," he said. "Not a '66, not a '68, but '67. But when I saw this '69, I called the guy. The price was right, too good to be true. He talked it up real good. That's normal for a hot rodder."
So Tim made the drive to see it, taking along a friend who had a '68 Chevelle that Tim had found for him previously. It was worth the trip.
"The body looked good, very good. Great. It had a 454 cubic inch engine with a blower. The problem was it had all kinds of leaks, not put together right," he said. "The guy took me for a ride and it ran terrible. I was glad we got back safely."
While the Chevelle's price was pretty good, Tim tried to make it better. He'd brought cash and made an offer for a couple grand less than asking, but the owner stood firm on the price.
He and his friend got into Tim's car to leave when his friend said, "If you're not going to take it, I am."
After driving around the block, they went back and Tim bought it for the asking price.
"I liked the color and I liked the price," he said. "I knew I would have to put a lot of work into it, but it was well worth it."
Tim had a certain advantage for redoing his Chevelle. He had opened Alta Sierra Family Auto with wife Cindy and daughter Jerica 11 years before that. They handled foreign and domestic car repairs as well as building the occasional hot rod for customers. This meant he had the tools and the ability to do the work as long as he could find the time.
Rolling up his sleeves
First thing Tim did was to go through the whole drive train: engine, Turbo 400 auto trans, custom-built driveline and 12-bolt rearend.
"I went with 3.08:1 gears in the back because I want to be able to drive down the highway," he said. "Otherwise, I'd be over-revving on the freeway."
He kept the Wieand intake with dual Holley 850 cubic feet per minute carbs and Wieand supercharger that was in the car, but redid the cooling. He had an aluminum radiator made for it back East that used dual Spal electric fans mounted so the supercharger belt would run between them.
For free breathing, he used headers with a Flow Master exhaust system. Next came a Vintage Air heater and air conditioning unit. Although he wanted air conditioning, he didn't want it mounted up top, which was the usual way, but hidden below the engine.
"I wanted it to look like high school, remember," he said. "It wouldn't have A/C then. You couldn't afford it."
It took combining and modifying two different March bracket sets, but the A/C is mounted where no A/C has gone before.
"It's so fun when guys to try to find the compressor," he said. "It's hidden so low."
Although he kept the suspension and steering stock, he went through all systems and added power steering and brakes.
Inside, the SS bucket seats, console and tilt wheel were in great condition. Tim installed new carpet, Autometer gauges and a Hurst drag-racing style shifter. Fletcher Auto Glass replaced the side window glass with internally tinted ones and put in a new windshield. They also pulled out the rear window, polished it and tinted it.
The body needed no work. It had a black metal hood, but the car came with a spare fiberglass cowl-induction one. Tim cut a hole for the blower and painted it metallic blue. The rest of the car he left as it came. In all, it took about five years to complete, driving it off and on during that time.
"If you pop the hood, it's not a bling thing," Tim said. "I tried to keep the polish down. Everybody, young and old, loves it because it's like you'd have done back then."
The idea is performance, not gleam.
"It has so much power that if you're driving along at 30 and punch it, it will cook the tires," he said. "It's hard not to do that at stop lights. I've never dynoed it, but it has about 600 horsepower."
He has a plan for the Chevelle.
"I'm going to put a concealed trailer hitch on it and hook up my Tahiti (a hot boat from the '70s). I'm going to go out in the parking lot, put some water on the pavement and do a burn out with the boat in tow," he said with a laugh. "Then I'll post it on Youtube."
A bit like what he might have done in high school. Like his dad might have done. A heritage thing.
Ron Cherry's books, including the Morg Mahoney detective series, are available on Kindle and in print copy at Amazon. His new book, "The St. Christopher Murders," is a Fourth of July mystery that takes place in a small town in the Sierra Foothills that is remarkably similar to Nevada City and will be out in paperback and Kindle on Amazon this month. Check out his website at http://www.rlcherry.com.
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