What Are You Working On? Jeff Karls’ 1967 Chevelle Malibu

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The Malibu as Jeff found it, just after he moved it outside for a look-see. Dusty, stuck in a corner and undriven for 15 years. “The car should’ve stayed where I found it,” Jeff reminisced. “A simple repaint by an overzealous body guy turned into a complete re-do.”

So now you’re probably wondering – do those guys that work at places like Summit, Jegs or Speedway Motors have bitchin’ cars, and do they build them and drive ‘em? Sure, you’ve wondered that, haven’t you? Well, we do know at least one guy that works at Speedway Motors in Lincoln, Nebraska, that does.

Jeff Karls of Fremont, Nebraska, is the Street Product Manager at Speedway Motors in Lincoln, and he’s working on a ’67 Chevelle Malibu, one that he swears he should have never purchased.
“I bought a car that should’ve stayed in the barn,” Jeff reminisced. So far, a quick simple repaint by an overzealous body guy turned into him cutting out massive amounts of the original sheet metal. He then lacked the competency to reassemble the car and I had to fire him and retrieve the car. Fortunately, Jeff has the help of an extremely talented friend, Chris Neal. He has carefully reconstructed – on both sides – inner and outer wheelhouses, fender lips, and the lower quarters have been replaced. All previous metal work has now been undone and assembled correctly! Guess you could say Jeff was not impressed with the work.

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Hacked out: If you want something done correctly, some times it’s best to do it yourself. The offending portion of the body has been removed and most of the paint stripped off.

But now that he’s into it, plans call for a BluePrint 496 ci Big Block Chevy engine. The transmission will be a 700R-4 with 3,600 stall converter, of course, with a TCI hydraulic lockup valve body. Naturally, Jeff will use a Speedway/Lokar Bench Muscle Car Shifter to select gears.
Additional plans call for the yet-to-be-released Speedway 9-inch Ford direct fit housing.

Jeff stated “Mine will be two inches narrower than stock, but our retail parts will match OE specs.” Rear suspension is to be the yet-to-be-released 1,000HP capable Speedway rear trailing arm kit with heavy sway bar, and QA1 double adjustable coilover conversion. Continuing on the front suspension, he said he’ll use the Speedway tubular control arms with QA1 double adjustable coilover conversion and 2-inch dropped G-comp, forged, raised ball-joint spindles.

Left: The 496 ci Big Block Chevy engine, built by BluePrint engines in Kearney, Nebraska. The transmission will be a 700R-4 with 3600 stall converter, of course, with a TCI hydraulic lockup valve body.
Right: Move along folks. Nothing to see here - except cobwebs and a lot of dust. The Malibu stuffed in the corner of the shed. Fifteen years of being unloved!

Street Muscle has a series of questions we send out to prospective WAYWO volunteers. One of the questions is: “How did you acquire the car?” He answered with, “Slow talk and fast cash.” We knew Jeff was right for this article after we heard that but he went on to answer serious-like: “I bought this Malibu in the summer of 2014 out of a buddy’s barn. He’d inherited it from a niece whose untimely death had left the car parked and unused for about 15 years. Body work and paint that had been done previously on the car was good at concealing how extensive the rust problem had once been.”

We asked about other plans. “Since it’s ballooned into this caliber a project, it might as well all be that caliber,” Jeff said. “The car had a stock 283ci engine with a TH350 and stall converter but it will be getting the 500HP big block and overdrive. That will effectively double the horsepower and triple the torque it had.”

Left: At least the floors were solid. Surface rust, yes, but no rot, unusual for a Mid-West vehicle. Right: New Redlines will grace the exterior of the car along with steel wheels and small 'caps.

With that he told us the fuel tank would come from Tanks with an EFI-ready unit and integral Walbro pump. Fuel Delivery would be via a FiTech 600 HP self-learning EFI atop the big-block manifold and for exhaust he’d be using mid-length 1-7/8” Hedman Hedders with 3-inch stainless steel exhaust and yet-to-be-released stainless Speedway dual chamber mufflers. When you’re the Product Manager of Speedway Motors you’re privy to all the new cool stuff!

The car is planned to be an all-around basic black, no-badge Chevelle with black bench seat interior and black steelies on redlines with dog-dish caps. Except with an on-the-ground-low stance and stuffed with tires at all four corners. The engine bay will be simple gloss black, semi and flat black textures mixed. The engine will be traditional orange with white headers and brushed finish, finned valve covers.

He’s planning on using a Spectre dual snorkel air cleaner and inner head light delete funnels to equip it with true forced air intake. The EFI should be able to realize a little more top end power with this extra airflow. Plans also include Vintage Air Surefit A/C and a CVF Racing front drive setup.

Left: The frame covered with surface rust- it'll clean up easily. Right: New shiny black paint looks much better than the rust will under the new 496 ci big block that'll soon sit between the frame rails.

Since he’s already far into the kettle of worms over 2 years now and still working on it, he’s also begun to strip the old undercoat from all the floors and frame in anticipation of installing sound deadener and carpet.

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Doesn’t look too bad here, but this photo was after Jeff got the car home. This was the point where Jeff decided, “This paint is probably too rough to just touch up.” It’s shown sitting alongside his Ford Sedan Delivery street rod.

The Chevelle  should be a great everyday vehicle and if you’re ever in Lincoln checking into Speedway’s museum or buying parts, take a look in the employees parking lot to see if that black Chevelle Malibu is there. If so, wave at Jeff, he’s probably watching the car…and you!

It’s great to see these classics come together, even if it does become a bit of a money pit. It all starts with a project, and if you’ve got one you’re working on, share it with us! Send us an email and yours could be the next project featured in “What Are You Working On?”.

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
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