Chevelle Build Update:
The Body is on the Rotisserie and the DSE Suspension is Going on the Frame!
It seems as it’s been forever since I’ve written the last Chevelle update on the build occurring at Allison Customs, but when we last left off the mini-tub job had just been completed and the trunk floor was about to go in. Today the entire trunk floor is in and done, which is no small feat considering Jeff had to literally fabricate every single panel that the new trunk floor was to weld to. He ended up creating an entire new tail panel for the car (which is the piece that ties the left and right side of the body together – just behind the bumper). Once that was done he had to create all of the internal places to mount the wheel tubs, and since the tubs were wider than original he had to relocate a few things to make it all work. In the end though the trunk floor went in and now the rear of the body is more solid than it’s been since the mid 1970′s!
With the trunk complete he then moved on to the floor. Like the trunk pan we chose to use a one piece unit from National Parts Depot (which is the place we’ve purchased all of our other sheetmetal as well – and I think we exhausted their Chevelle catalog). Unlike the trunk pan we bought a floor pan without the cross braces already welded in, so Jeff found it a little more “wiggly” to work with due to the lack of structural bracing. In most applications he felt that a pan without the braces would be easier to work with, since the original cross braces are generally reused (as are the original rocker panels), but in my case it may have been easier to have the braces present already since literally every other peice of metal was being replaced.
Like everything else with my car, before moving forward with new metal he first had to devote time to a lot of rust repair, specifically the inner quarter panels and inner kick panels (where the floor vents are). Neither of those was really tied into the current floor at all. Repairing those areas required all hand fabrication as those are not pieces that are reproduced. Following the completion of those he began to remove the outer driver’s side rocker panel. He decided that the best approach to put the full floor in later would be to use the same process that GM had done originally, so he carefully peeled each sheetmetal layer out of the driver’s side rocker panel until he determined which piece of metal went in first.
After he finally had the process all figured out, out came the rocker panels and in went the new floor! He used a creative process of positioning the body on a cart above his car lift, and then used the car lift to raise the floor up into the body. It took a few tries and a lot of measuring, but the floor finally went in and he secured it with self tapping screws to do the final positioning before welding. The next steps will be to do the finish welding on the floor, insert the new inner rocker panels, and then put in to the new floor cross braces.
Finally, Jeff was tired of fighting rust and sheet metal and decided to do a little “fun” work by assembling the new Detroit Speed suspension (which he had already test fit previously) on the newly powdercoated frame. We used a wrinkly finish powerdercoat that really made all of Jeff’s modifications to the frame shine. He also painted up the original 10 bolt rear end, which we’ll be re-using on this project. (Oddly enough, the rear end housing will be the only original piece of the drivetrain!)
Jeff’s goal is to get the body test fit only the frame by Christmas and to have it bolted on securely just after the new year. After that the firewall will be smoothed, the new quarter panels will go on, the roll cage will go in, and we’ll being preparations for an upcoming LS engine swap!
Whew! I’m exhausted just from writing all of this up, so I can hardly image how Jeff has done it all thus far. As most of you know, his “day job” is that of a pilot for Southwest Airlines, so everything he does for Allison Customs is done in his “free” time. At this point in the project he has about 600 hours of labor in! Also, just as a reminder, as was revealed in Podcast Episode 72, Jeff is doing this build for me completely for free. He’s using it as a promotional build for his business and also as a gift to me, and I’ll admit that I’m overwhelmed with thanks for him for helping me to make my dreams come true. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving I’ll be sure to give God thanks for one more blessing he’s sent my way!
Jeff also came onto Episode 110 of The MuscleCar Place podcast show, so be sure to listen in to get the foll scoop.
Stay tuned! It’s just getting good….