How many of you remember the late ’70s? High school parking lots were filled with “used” cars and resembled what we now call a car show. It was the ’70s, and Hondas and Kias had not yet taken over. Sure there were a few of those imported people movers parking next to the American iron, but many of the cars were seasoned American muscle. It’s a time when school-aged car owners were enjoying cruising and daily driving Chevelles, Camaros, Novas and Impalas. Such was the case with John Hill.
“I bought a ’69 Chevelle during my senior year in high school in 1978,” John Affirms. “It had a 327 under the hood and Powerglide behind that. I got it and fell in love with it, even though it had many issues. It was still a good car, but met an unfortunate end. I bought another one and drove it for many years until I bought what some considered a more dependable car.”
As does quite often, life took over. The days became filled with family matters, but John never forgot about those early hot-rodding days. “I was always looking for another Chevelle, but couldn’t afford to buy anything I found,” says John. “My oldest son and I frequently discussed building one someday, but time got away from us. When I hit my early 40’s, the opportunity came around and I could finally afford to buy the right car. I ended up finding this one on eBay and bought it without actually looking at it.”
John told us that was the scariest thing he had ever done. “I bought it from a dealer in Delaware, and when I received the car, it was not what I expected,” declared John. “It broke down a lot. Thankfully, I am a mechanic and own my own shop. I was able to keep it on the road that first summer, just long enough to enjoy the season. After that, I took it apart rebuilt the engine and rearend, installed disc brakes, and re-did the interior.”
John told us that making the car just right was a long process, but as the years went by, he kept replacing and adding parts as he could afford to. “I’ve replaced the front floors, the lower section behind the rear wheels, front fenders, and the hood,” he states. “The whole car has yet to be repainted, as I only repainted what I could afford to do at any one time. Thankfully, the body shop I use did an awesome job matching and blending the paint.
John informed us that unfortunately, when he was finally able to buy the Chevelle, his son had grown up and moved out of state. However, he did still have someone to enjoy the ride with him. “Although my son had moved out of state when I was able to finally buy a car, my daughter, who was only 1 1/2 years old at the time is able to grow up riding around in it,” he states. “It took a while, but I finally have what I always wanted.”
Do you want to read about more Home-Built Heroes? All you need to do is click here. If you own a Home-Built Hero, we want to hear about it. Since I’ve started the series, I have received more than a few candidates, but I still want to see more — I can never get enough. If you want to see more cars built by you the readers, send a few pictures of your car showing the engine, interior, and exterior, along with all of the pertinent information, and I’ll make you Internet famous. You can send your submissions to [email protected].