There are many enthusiasts that, unfortunately, only have memories of their first car. For some, it was sold to fund what life threw at them. For others, the memory is even more horrific — the ride was lost due to unfortunate circumstances. For Kevin Forcier, the latter still hurts.
“I was born and raised in the country parts of Massachusetts, says Kevin. “In 1977, I purchased my first car from the original owner. It was a 1969 Chevelle SS. Under the hood was 375hp 396 engine backed by a four-speed. It took my dad and me nearly a year to repaint the car with numerous coats of lacquer paint, as well as whatever else it took to make it look like new — if not better. Several years later, I was involved in a traffic accident and the car was totaled. I vowed to get another one someday.”
That fateful day never left Kevin’s memories, and when he moved to California in 1999, a surprise find solidified his desire to replace the car. “I was in Malibu, California, when I saw an orange 1969 Chevelle SS parked alongside an embankment,” Kevin recalls. “I couldn’t turn the car I was driving around fast enough to go look at it. As I neared the Chevelle, my heartbeat increased when I saw the for sale sign in the windshield. The car appeared to be original and in good condition.”
When Kevin called the phone number listed on the sign, the person told him he was selling the car for a friend who moved to New York. “He told me the engine was recently rebuilt. It was bored .030-inch over and received a larger cam. The guy also said it was the original engine. However, to this day I have never verified any numbers. I started the car and it sounded healthy. Even the optional, factory tachometer was working. Within several hours, I was driving my second 1969 Chevelle SS 396 with a four-speed.”
Kevin drove the car in its as-found condition for approximately one year. He then decided it was time to restore the car. He told us it needed minimal work. “Over the next few years, the car was painted to maintain the original factory color, Hugger/Monaco Orange,” affirms Kevin. “Although the body needed minimal work, there was some rust under the rear window, on the bottom of the front fenders, and one quarter-panel.”
The exterior emblems, mirrors, antenna, door handles/locks were all replaced with reproduction parts. The bumpers were re-chromed, and he replaced the cracked dash pad, carpets, and had the bucket seats reupholstered. “The door panels are still the originals,” Kevin says. “The gauge faces were refurbished by Speedo Mike, in Whittier, California, and the car was rewired with a new harness. The majority of the parts were purchased from Original Parts Group (OPGI). Although I did replace many parts with reproduction pieces, I still have the originals.”
Finally, the big-block engine was in great condition and really didn’t need to be overhauled. But, that doesn’t mean a few upgrades were not part of the plan. “I did install an Edelbrock Air Gap intake and a custom-modified 3310 Holley carburetor,” he affirms.
This might not be the actual Chevelle Kevin owned when he was younger, but it definitely gives him the enjoyment that memorable ride once did. Here’s to Kevin and his ’69 Chevelle being featured as our OPGI Spotlight ride.