The starting point. She looks good....but there are a few surprises underneath.
This week’s podcast show guest is none other than Jeff Allison, the owner of Allison Customs, and the man building my personal ’64 Chevelle. As I first told you in a previous podcast show, Jeff reached out to me initially to offer his services – for free – to help me build my dream car.
Without going into all of the sorted details , after meeting together in person we decided to make a go of it! Today my Chevelle is in a bazillion pieces in Jeff’s shop in New Mexico, and in the interview Jeff has discussed all of the issues discovered and work done so far.
After completing the teardown Jeff discovered that the body was far rougher than we had hoped. There were really only 6 body mounts (out of 14) left that were doing any work, and the wheel tubs, trunk, and sections of the floor were really only tied together by good will.
Once he had the body off we put together a massive sheetmetal wish list for National Parts Depot, and they shipped it to his shop in just a few days! We also ordered up a Detroit Speed “Speed Kit 3″ pro-touring suspension setup for the front and rear of the car as well, both of which can be purchased through National Parts Depot directly.
The rusted orange spot is where a body mount should have been. Jeff found a lot of little "surprises" like this one.
While the body sat on the car awaiting it’s revival Jeff tackled the frame. This frame was not the original to the car and was one that my dad and I had acquired in the early 90′s from a “better” ’65 Chevelle. Jeff squared it up, boxed the rails in as a convertible or El Camino car would have been, and then went about repairing every thin or rusted out section of the frame. Unfortunately for Jeff, that meant he had to rebuild most of the frame! The front horns required extensive repair as did the section under the front turndowns.
The "new" frame, rust gone and race ready!
Once the rust repair was done Jeff notched the centersection of the front cross member and installed tubing to open up clearance for an LS oil pan as well as to add strength. He also build a home for a future tubular transmission cross member that tied together the front turns of the frame to the long frame rails.
In the rear he notched the frame by about 1 inch to allow me to run a 295/35/18 rear tire as well, and he did so by adding internal boxing and plating as well as adding in some upper members that triagulated the frame.
Jeff has now started in on the body, and after removing the trunk pan he discovered that the existing tailpanel was too ruined to connect a new trunk pan to. After toying with the idea of buying the back half of another ’64 Chevelle he decided to simply have the rear of the car gently soda blasted and to repair each section piece by piece.
Once that is done he’ll be able to install the full trunk pan, do the mini-tub, install the full quarters, full floor, inner and outer rockers, and (maybe) a different firewall.
Unfortunately this project has turned out to be far bigger than either of us had imagined, and I’ve asked Jeff if he’s ever regretted it. True to his word, Jeff has said he has had no regrets and is enjoying the process. According to Jeff, “No one really enjoys rust repair, but I’m looking forward to getting it done so I can get to the mods!”
The soda blaster hides nothing. Actually, there's nothing left to hide. This is the passenger side taillight and what's left of the tail panel.
While we initially hoped to have the car drivable for some events yet this fall, it’s becoming more and more clear that the car will not see the road again until sometime next year. The good news is that since we’re delaying the schedule that we’ll have the opportunity to do the “whole” build with an LS motor, nice paint, a roll bar (or cage), cool wheels, and nice Wilwood brakes. Who knows, maybe we’ll even install air conditioning to boot!
Thanks for the interview Jeff! If you have a project you’d like Jeff’s opinion on he can be reached directly at allisoncustomsonline.com or 505-330-2174.