His 1967 El Camino, Her 1972 Chevelle SS, Their Project Builds

carrieandmelvinleadartJust like attraction to cars, the people that build them find themselves drawn to each other. This is the case with Carrie and Melvin Hattell with their ’67 El Camino and ’72 Chevelle SS that they brought back from the grave.

It all started in 1997 when the two met at a local bar in Littleton, Colorado. They were married two years later on New Years Eve in 1999. Shortly after they were married they started buying and restoring cars as a small hobby they enjoyed together, and it is something they continue to do today.

The first of many fun builds together, this one was sold to help finish another project together.

“In January 2001 we purchased our first hobby car, a 1970 Chevelle that we finished and sold in 2011 to finish the ’72 Chevelle,” Carrie said. In October of 2001, while looking for their new project they came across a 1972 Chevelle SS for sale on eBay. There was a bidding war going with another buyer, but Carrie’s final winning bid was $1,601.45. “Kinda of funny to think of it now,” Melvin said.

The poor thing had been abandoned in an empty field in Wyoming for 21 years. The previous owner parked her in 1980 when the engine blew, which is where it sat until Carrie found it.

Fresh from the field, this Chevelle was getting a new forever home thanks to Carrie and Melvin.

It took the Hattells 13 years to do a frame off rotisserie restoration on this field find.
“It looked like the cowboys had played tug o war with the darn thing!” Melvin stated during a recent interview. This statement is in regards to the frame of the car that was broken in multiple places.

Melvin said that the first thing he did was source another frame for the Chevelle. He then sent out the new frame to be sand blasted and powder coated.

The new frame to replace the old torn one. This one is far better, and safer.

The next step to this build was rust repair, and there was a lot of it. Carrie and Melvin replaced a few panels, primed the body and jammed the doors. Melvin had said at one point he felt the toughest part of this build was replacing the quarter panels and taking the rusty body off the equally rusty frame.

Ready for paint with fresh new sheet metal that replaced the rusted out panels.

Carrie then started picking out the interior. She decided on black leather for the seats and had “SS” embroidered on the front headrests, with cloth inserts that matched the door trim panels.

SS embroidered nicely on the seats.

The body was sent off to paint, and Velocity Yellow with black racing stripes was the winning design. This created a very eye-popping color that lets the Chevelle get some much deserved attention.

Clean and simple!

The exterior was finished off with factory SS wheels in gunmetal and BF Goodrich Radial GT white letter tires.

Under the hood you’ll find a factory 402 big block and a Muncie four-speed transmission.

Factory 402 Big Block, zero to woo~hoo in no time flat.

Melvin finished this build with the factory F41 suspension package, front disk brakes, rear drum brakes, and a 12-bolt posi rear end. She’s all dolled up and ready to roll.

This build was only supposed to be a three year restoration and had a set budget. 13 years later and many more zeros added to that budget it was finally done. Carrie recently even had the 8-track player rebuilt.

After the Chevelle was finally completed to Carrie’s liking, they went on the hunt for their next build.

They came across a 1967 El Camino that took hold of their interest. It was listed on Craigslist for $2,500. They offered $1,800, which was declined. After negotiating, of course, the final selling price ended up being $2,000.

A diamond in the rough is, in fact, still a diamond. It just needs room to shine.

They started taking apart the car bit by bit, starting with assessing the rust – which took longer than anticipated. When removing the tattered and worn vinyl top they found what they feared the most – extensive rust.

The rust gods had a hay day with this one.

The rust was so bad that the only way to remedy was to chop off the top and replace it. Thankfully Melvin was able to locate a top at a friend’s salvage yard in Erie, Colorado. This posed its own difficulties because this is something that he had not done before. Thankfully there is a first time for everything, he dug in and he was successful.

Brings a whole new meaning to chopped top.

Due to the top being so deteriorated, water intrusion was a natural by-product of each rainstorm. Because of this, the entire floorboard had to be repaired. Multiple body panels, 13 to be exact, had to be removed and patched to be rid of the cancerous rust that plagued this diamond in the rough.

The left rear quarter from the door to the tail gate had to be replaced, there was that much rust on the El Camino.

The body was then sent for paint. The color is called House of Colors Tangelo Pearl and is accented with Crystal Clear Black from the front of the hood to the tail gate. It’s finished off with a green pinstripe separating the orange and black, which adds that last touch.

Named El Tangelo by Melvin.

Melvin then faced the challenge of finding the factory engine. Unfortunately, he could not find a factory 396 big block to complete his vision of a true restoration. However, he did find an LS engine fresh out of the box. How fortunate, right?

No 396 for this El Camino, but fortunately the LS engine would suffice.

This beast of an engine was paired with a 4L60E transmission and it just begs to be taken to the track. The Hattells decided to go a little more modern when it came to the drive train.

For stopping duties, the car has been fitted with a front disc brake conversion, with rear drum brakes and the factory 12-bolt rearend. The exterior of the El Camino was finished off with polished American Racing wheels and Cooper Cobra Radial GT tires.

The interior was reupholstered with black leather factory bucket seats and the dash was converted to a Dakota Digital gauge set to go along with their modernized drivetrain. The floor was re-carpeted with factory black carpet.

Dakota Digital dash provides the instrumentation.

Melvin recently sold the El Camino and is on the hunt for his next restoration build. He hopes to find one that will not take as long as the Chevelle but will be as equally rewarding.

This couple obviously knows what they want and what others like to see. These two beautifully crafted vehicles were hard work but so worth it in the end. They have done three complete restorations together and Melvin has done one other restoration on his own – another El Camino.

Carrie loves her Chevelle SS and belongs to an all girls car club. The club is located in the Denver Metro Area and she frequents many of the local car shows. We can’t wait to see some of the other lady’s cars.

Melvin works at a restoration shop that specializes in restoring classic cars. He has a passion for these types of builds but says that since he works on them all day he tends to lose interest in builds at home. But seeing these two his-and-her Chevys proves that all was not lost.

We look forward to seeing more of their builds in the future. Do you have a build that you’ve done with your significant other? Share it with us and we may feature your builds here on our pages.

Equally aggressive. Equally beautiful.

About the author

Nichole Holzli

Now a resident of Denver, Nichole grew up on a ranch in Southern California and relocated to a small town in Northern California upon starting high school. There she became a member of the Future Farmers of America, cultivating leadership skills and putting them into practice. Nichole has a passion for reading, a talent for writing, and a lifelong love affair with cars. She is married with four children and provides content for Power Automedia as a freelance writer.
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