Larry Debevec has been a car guy for as long as he can remember. He says it probably started soon after his parents got him a 1956 AMF Capri pedal car with a two-speed gearbox. “Back then, dad would tell stories like, ‘I wish I still had my ’33 Plymouth’ or ‘I wish I still had that 1940 Ford coupe’” Larry relays. “I always said that was never going to happen to me. I decided at a young age I’m going to buy something I like and that’s going to be a sweet, hot car that I’m going to keep forever.” Enter the ’67 Chevelle you see here.
While growing up, Larry and his brother would sit on the front steps of their house and count the number of Chevys, Fords, and Mopars going up and down the street. “We were also into building model cars and dreaming of the day we could drive,” says Larry. “We both learned to drive on our uncle’s farm when we were barely old enough to see over the steering wheel.”
In the fall of 1969, Larry says he went with his father to order a new 1970 Impala at the local Chevy dealer. “I was 14 years old at the time and was helping the owner of the Chevrolet dealership and dad with the options I wanted (one being an 8-track tape player),” Larry quips. “The dealer quickly noticed how interested I was in cars and how much I knew about the models. He offered me a job sweeping up the shop and cleaning after the mechanics. Within a few months, I was doing brake jobs and replacing exhaust systems”
While working at the dealership, the brother of a classmate blew the engine in his red ’67 Chevelle convertible. While the Chevelle was at the dealership, Larry helped one of the shop’s mechanics rebuild the engine and the car was back on the road. “Not long after that, the owner decided to sell the Chevelle and Larry bought it for $800.
“I drove it all through high school and then to college at Penn State,” states Larry. “Having the dealership resources available and an engine mechanic who loved to tune for the quarter-mile, the Chevelle saw alot of street racing while I was in high school.”
In 1978, the ’67 Chevelle was parked in a barn where it languished for the next 12 or 13 years. Then, one day, Larry decided it was time to pull it out of the barn and do a frame-off restoration. “We were living in Danville, Virginia at the time and knew a couple of guys with a good reputation for restoring cars, Pee Wee and PJ Wentz,” says Larry. “The Chevelle was completely restored with the exception of the engine which was in great shape. The front seats got new vinyl coverings, and the body was stripped and repainted Bolero Red. It was a good time to do the restoration because I was able to find all the NOS parts and pieces for the rebuild.”
The restoration was completed in 1991 and the car remained largely unchanged until 2014. That is when Larry pulled and rebuilt the engine. According to Larry, “Blue Weber (Warlock LTD) of Mooresville, North Carolina did the machine work and assembly. We put a hotter cam in it, bored it .040-inch over, machined the heads for larger valves, and blue-printed and balanced the engine. I still run the Rochester Quadrajet carburetor and was running mechanical points until I changed over to a Pertronix electronic replacement a couple of years back.”
Larry says he and his wife have a lot of fun with the car. Living in South Carolina, they can cruise year-round. “We do some cruising and attend some shows and try to enjoy it as much as possible,” affirms Larry. “We have a lot of fun with it. When we go out, it loves gas and it loves the asphalt, so every once in a while, I go out and let it breathe. It’s a fun car, and in my opinion, it should be driven. I don’t own a trailer queen.”
It wouldn’t be hard for Larry to find someone interested in buying the ’67 Chevelle. However, Larry says that sale would never happen. “When I’m done playing with it, it will go back to my hometown when I hand it over to my nephew,” says Larry. “I will keep it in the family. I’ve had it so long (almost 52 years now), it’s more than just a car to me. It’s been a big part of my life. It now has 88,500 miles on the odometer and shares garage space with my 1961 Arbor Green Impala SS.”
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