Since he was ten years old, it has been a dream of Steve Nivens’ to own a 1970 Chevelle. Currently a resident of Surprise, Arizona, he more-or-less achieved that goal in 2008. The more being that he bought the Chevelle, the less being that it needed a lot of work. However, he thought it was perfect, “It was a rolling shell with no engine, transmission, or interior,” Steve told us.
Steve’s inspiration to build this project was an illustration that he saw several years ago. “I really just liked the way it looked,” Steve explained. “Although my car will look quite a bit different than that, I still have the picture to keep inspiring me.” He planned on installing an LS7 engine and a six-speed manual transmission. “My bank account disagreed with that,” Steve explained. “Ultimately, I want a modern car that is comfortable to drive and looks like a ’70 Chevelle.” Without the extra cash on hand for a new LS7, Steve went the route of looking for late-model LS-powered car to pull the engine from.
Steve has been doing the work himself with help from his son and dad. He is a perfectionist and admits that that tends to bog him down. “Progress on this build will be painfully slow,” Steve detailed. “Although I’ve gotten the urge to get this thing back on track, I have a very full time job, my wife is in grad school, and I have three kids at home.” Steve’s time has been stretched pretty thin over the last few years, but he has still found time to work on his car, beginning with rust repair.
This is his first time addressing rust issues like this, and he is handling everything with an admirable attitude: “I’d rather do it myself three or four times, than pay someone else to do it. I figure by the end, I’ll have the skills to do it right.” He took care of the rust in the floor and rear window channel area. Other than that, the car was from southern California car and was mostly rust free.
Steve discovered that the seats out of an ’06 Dodge Magnum fit quite nicely, and are comfortable. The non-original Magnum rear bench seat features a 60/40 split, that folds down for access to the trunk. It looks good, feels comfortable, and functions really well.
The drivetrain he will be using is an LS2 with a T56 transmission taken from a wrecked 2006 Pontiac GTO. He bought it from a guy in Calexico, under what Steve says felt like sketchy circumstances, by ended up going working out. “I was worried about the condition of the engine, but he confirmed that the engine was okay, and that he was able to turn it over,” Steve explained.
“When I went to see the car, the core support was so entangled around the engine, there was no way there was any movement from the engine. Both engine mounts and the transmission mount were ripped apart.” They settled on $2,800, and Steve took the new twisted-sheetmetal-wrapped drivetrain home.
Although the car is still under construction, and quite a ways from being road ready, Steve has a great start to his project.
What do you think of Steve’s Chevelle – does it inspire you to get back to work on your own project car? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have a project of your own that you’ve been slaving away at, share it with us! Send us an email and yours could be the next project featured in “What Are You Working On?”.