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1971 Malibu to 1970 Chevelle clone build thread

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Hello all! Just joined up here although I have been reading TC for years, many times even while researching things for other (non-Chevelle) builds. The events that led up to me finally owning my Chevelle is a story in itself. I grew up with a car dad who often had multiple Chevy projects around. As far as Chevelle's I remember a cherry low mileage '69 307 Malibu, and a couple of '67s projects that got sold before they really got off the ground. As I got older him and I mostly focused on Nova's, G-bodies, and Trifives, with a few other projects mixed in as well. Even with all of the cool stuff we had built I couldn't shake the urge to have a Chevelle project. I looked for several years missing quite a few opportunities because the timing wasn't right. That brings us up to October of 2021, I had just finished building a shop and was ready to start a project there, I looked at a '68 Malibu that had been a parts car and was really too far gone for me since I didn't have a network of Chevelle friends and parts to fall back on. So I was debating in between staring on my '56 Chevy or my '72 K10, When I found some of the sheetmetal necessary to build the truck was unavailable I decided to build the '56. So I started out by ordering a full one piece floor pan for the '56, when I went to pickup the sheetmetal from my distributor there was a Chevelle in his front yard. It was missing the front clip and rear bumper so I couldn't tell what year it was, but knew it was a 70-72. So I asked him about it and he said it was a '71 and asked if I wanted to buy it. He shot me a price that was half of the '68 I had looked at previously and when I checked out the '71 it was in twice the condition and it had bucket seats! I went ahead and agreed to buy the Chevelle, but since I didn't come there to buy a car I had to go back the next day with a trailer. I spent that night so worried he was going to back out on the deal before I could get there, but luckily he did not. It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving when I brought my Chevelle home.
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My first view of the car, original Nevada Silver car that had been stripped, put in Red Oxide primer and then left sitting in the weeds.
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Bucket seat cores and solid floors, much better than the '68 I had walked away from a month prior.
Stay tuned for the cleanup and assessment.
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Welcome to the site and good luck with the project. It may not matter but those buckets are not Chevelle seats or A body seats. Not sure what they are from but pattern reminds me of Mopar seats, maybe 80s or 90s
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Liking your build thread so far, just not the 70 part, ha.....
I know that isn't for everybody, I will get into my reasons why I decided to go that way as a post more updates.
Welcome to the site and good luck with the project. It may not matter but those buckets are not Chevelle seats or A body seats. Not sure what they are from but pattern reminds me of Mopar seats, maybe 80s or 90s
Reading your comment reminded me that when I purchased the car I did not think they were either. The other seat was disassembled to the springs and had a partial build sheet attached that indicated 1970 Pontiac. I started looking into pictures of 1970 Pontiac seat frames and these are in fact A-body seats. Just the poorly done covers, no plastics, and headrest removed make them look odd. I have since stripped the seats down and had them blasted and painted, more on that later.
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First thing I did was give it a power wash to try and blast the mildew and moss that was growing on it off.
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Looking a lot better with a wash. I did see a couple of field mice running around the trailer as I was washing. I guess they were living in the frame and made the trip home with the car. When I got it home I had a dilemma, I had my '56 ready to go in the shop for a floorpan replacement, but I was pretty excited about the Chevelle. So I decided to roll the Chevelle in at least for a while...
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Got it up on the lift and found my little buddies up in the coils spring pockets.
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Did a little cleaning and swapped on some rally wheels. Hanging out with my fair weather daily driver '57 wagon.
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I wasn't really sure at this point what direction I was going to go with the car, I had just spent the last few months getting my '69 Nova to driver status and was thinking about a similar build for the Chevelle. The previous owner said that he always suspected that this car was possibly an SS car that someone had stole the parts off of so before I made any decisions I decided to go down that rabbit hole. I started looking at the usual clues; rear end first, it was a 8.2 10 bolt, but it had definitely been out and reinstalled loosely with the wrong upper control arms, frame stiffeners showed evidence of having been there, but removed. Dash was a Malibu dash, but the pad had been removed and it was possible it was swapped in. Finally I got to the smoking gun; front drum brakes. no evidence that the frame had ever been out from under the car or that the spindle had ever been off of the ball joints. Additionally I found holes for rocker moldings, which I believe were only installed on Malibus. So I came to the conclusion that this was not an SS, or big block car so they affected my decision making process going forward. I had built my Nova with your basic 355 small block I had as an extra motor, with a long term plan to have a Big Block in it and was in the process of having a block machined for that purpose. I debated swapping the 355 into the Chevelle, but decided the best course of action was to finish the 496 BBC for the Chevelle and keep the 355 in the Nova for the time being. I also started looking for front end Sheetmetal and trim initially without preference if that was for a '71 or '70. My next post will detail how that went and why I decided to go the route I did.
 

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That was a good buy for you.
I saw right off the plusses it has. Floors looked good and the seats yes but looks like a factory AC car as well?
It cleaned up well...
We all know why you bought it... it was for that one wheel on the right rear that Craiger mag!
Kidding of course..
Envious of you shop... what a dream creating space!... That 57 wagon looks very pretty!
Looking forward to seeing your work and build!

Casey
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That was a good buy for you.
I saw right off the plusses it has. Floors looked good and the seats yes but looks like a factory AC car as well?
It cleaned up well...
We all know why you bought it... it was for that one wheel on the right rear that Craiger mag!
Kidding of course..
Envious of you shop... what a dream creating space!... That 57 wagon looks very pretty!
Looking forward to seeing your work and build!

Casey
Thanks for checking out my build thread. Yes it is in fact a factory AC car, and I did get the "suitcase" with it. I was initially excited about that and intended to use it, I have changed directions and have a Vintage air on order. I do like Cragars, unfortunately this one is a 14" and pretty crusty. My shop was a dream come true after many years and was a restoration project in itself if you will. I rebuilt it from an old shed that was destroyed by a tornado. if you are interested in that I have a thread over at the Garage Journal about it. https://www.garagejournal.com/forum/threads/the-someday-never-comes-farmstead-and-buildings.450244/. I am way behind on updates on it, but as I post to this thread you will see the inside of the shop improve.

Like I said in my previous post I initially did not have a preference on to '70 or '71 and was looking for whatever I could find first. However my favorite Chevelle's are '68/'69s and started to think that the four headlight look of a '70 was the best compromise I could do. Also I literally had nothing from the firewall forward except the front bumper and brackets so cost was going to be similar either way. I found a marketplace ad in St Louis for a gentleman with a lifelong collection of '70 Chevelle parts that he was trying to consolidate. After some discussion with him, he was confident he could set me up with the majority of the stuff I would need to convert the front end to a '70 as well as many of the other missing parts I needed at great prices. I visited him sometime in early December last year and bought a lot of the stuff I needed for the front end swap as well as a lot of other random stuff I realized I needed once I was there. Unfortunately the fenders he had were rougher than I wanted to deal with, but he did have a set of BBC rectangle port heads that I ended up buying instead.
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I also started sanding the car to bare metal the best I could although that was a struggle as the rust was pretty hard to cut through.
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Started mocking up my '70 core support, grill, and fender extensions. Realized my '71 bumper brackets were different and I still need some of those for the '70

When I purchased the car the seller told me he had a new in the box non-functional cowl hood that he would sell me as well, but since I had just purchased the floor pan for the '56 and then unexpectedly bought the Chevelle I passed on it. After thinking about it later I started kicking myself, so I went back there a third time and purchased the hood.
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A little while later, I mocked up some 8" and 4" rallies with the disc brake caps. Liking the look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Cool project and welcome to Team Chevelle!
Nice shop too!!
Thanks! I dig your Chevelle and Vette too. I have a '57 Chevy 150 Gasser that I drag race, and hope for my Chevelle to be a quick street car like yours!
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Now we are up to mid January. I worked on the shop over the Holidays and got most of my insulation done and my loft built. I struggled last winter with finding fenders, most places were out of stock and at this point of the build I was still striving for a budget driver and didn't want a fortune in sheetmetal. So I made a post on one of the Chevelle FB groups and found a decent pair of fenders within decent driving distance to me
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Around this time after making some post on my personal Facebook page a friend reached out to me that he had some Chevelle parts he wanted to get rid of. I had intended to use the '71 rear bumper, but after getting a great price on the '70 rear bumper with pad, I started wavering towards using it.
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Shortly after that I found some older 1/4 panels that hadn't been installed for a decent price and picked them up as well. It kind of moved the around the shop mocked up like this for a while while I finished insulating and lining the inside of the shop.
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In March I met another local Chevelle guy that had started building a Chevelle 20 years ago, never finished it and was now redoing it. I got a great deal on this pile of parts that were purchased for it and never used. Moog replacement coil springs, southside machine lift bars, competition engineering shocks, aluminum WP and crank pulley for BBC, and some Dynomax ceramic coated BBC headers.
 

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Next I want to tell the story of the BBC I am putting together for the Chevelle. The block is a 4 bolt main 454 that has been around a while. On my 18th Birthday my Dad bought a 88 1 ton 4x4 Chevy truck with a blown motor. I helped him swap it out for another engine and he let me have the core. When I was around 20 I decided to build it for my '69 Nova and had it bored .030 and put it together with SRP 12.5:1 pistons, 049 Oval port heads, and a mild comp Hyd roller. The Nova project got back burnered (same one I mentioned earlier that I finally drove last year.), and the motor ended up in a '78 Malibu that I bracket raced for a few years. It ran 11.30's 1/4 mile.
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I got tired of bracket racing and of having two '78 Malibu's and after unsuccessfully trying to sell the above car as a roller I decided to part it out to build my '57 Chevy gasser. I made pretty good money selling the parts off of the Malibu and saved quite a bit for my gasser build.
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Mocking up the 454 in the gasser, My plan was to give it a simple gasket and rattle can refresh, but when I pulled it apart it had serious issues. So I decided to make some changes to it to make the Gasser faster, but also more streetable. I built the motor into a 496. It had to go to .060 to clean up, and I bought a Scat forged rotating assembly, with CP forged baby dome pistons, matched to a set of GM closed chamber rectangle port heads heads, and a Howards solid roller cam.
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The motor ran pretty good in the gasser doing a best of 11.0 with some passes at 1/8 mile tracks that indicated it could've been in the 10s. It was also a decent street motor and got driven to a couple of cruise nights. However in the second season out it spun a bearing and kicked a rod out of the pan causing major damage. I ended up building a completely different engine for the gasser only reusing the forged crank (after a turn) and now it runs 10.20s with a aluminum headed 13:1 489.
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The block sat around for a couple of years until I decided to take it to my machinist to see if he could fix it for my Nova. He had to sleeve one hole and take it to .080 but I was able to save it. Here it is with the 990 rectangle ports. When I decided to put this motor in the Chevelle it is the second time this motor was destined for my Nova and ended up in a Malibu.
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Should be a pretty decent piece for a street Chevelle. I went with a cast Scat crank, forged rods and pistons. With the open chamber 990 heads it is around 10.25:1 compression and 501 cubes at .080 over. A this point it is completely assembled just needs painted and it will be ready to install.
 

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In mid May there was a major change in my life that affected my build plan for the Chevelle going forward. My first car that I drove to high school was a super clean low mileage 6 cyl '78 Malibu. After high school I put a small block in it, converted it to bucket seats, an original color repaint with SS style stripes added, and basically went through the whole car. I had owned it for 18 years, but hadn't done anything with it in the last 10 and honestly I was bored with it. Buying the Chevelle made me decide that maybe it was time to let the Malibu go, which officially happened in May.
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The two cars together one last time. I joked it was like trading in a good looking woman for her older sister with issues. I was a tough decision for sure, but I knew the money could help all of my other projects, that all also have a meaning to me. About a week after it was sold I placed an order at Classic Parts of America in Kansas City for a lot of the parts I needed for my '72 K10, as well as a few parts for my Nova and the Chevelle. I roadtripped there with my Dad and we also made it a dual purpose trip; he had been talking to an old friend of his about a Monte Carlo he helped him with in the 80's. My dad had given him a Chevelle 12 bolt and helped him swap it in along with a 402 out of a Chevelle. After talking with him he said it had been sitting for years and he wasn't going to do anything with it and if we wanted the parts we could have them. He lives in the KC area so we picked it up that day as well.
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I got it in the shop and got the motor and rear end out of it pretty quickly. The rear end was in great shape and is a 3.73 posi. The engine needs a hone, rings bearings and a valve job, but I think I MIGHT finally have a BBC to put in my Nova.
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After I was done stripping the MC I rolled the Chevelle back to the lift and started stripping it back down. At this point I decided that to truly replace my Malibu I needed to build this car the way I have always wanted one. So I pulled the frame to have it blasted and powder coated. We made it a family trip to drop the frame and parts off, and met another Chevelle guy and purchased a good useable decklid and some other misc. parts I needed.
 

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Having some funds also allowed me to go ahead and start ordering some other parts for the Chevelle as well. As we all know a lot of stuff is hard to get right now so I wanted to get some of that stuff ordered so it would be here when I need it. One of the big things was the interior kit. I knew I either wanted a full red interior or a blue interior and plan for a red, white, or blue exterior. My wife has always wanted a blue car so I decided to go ahead and order the interior kit in '70 pattern bright blue.
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Front door panels, headliner, carpet, seat shelf, armrest pads all came pretty quick, I am still waiting on seat covers, and rear panels.
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Went ahead and ordered a Restoparts console and shifter. I got a new detent plate from DPJ Fabricating, "70 SS454" here on the forum, that turns the shifter into a True-Slap.
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I also got a blue comfortgrip wheel, I know these aren't original in color like this, but I like the way it looks. I really wanted a standard style 69/70 wheel, but they are about $150 more than these and that is just too rich for me.

Some other parts I purchased, but don't have pictures of are: Coldcase radiator and fans, Southside machine dbl adj rear upper control arms and frame braces, gas tank, parts to rebuild the suspension and brakes, full seal kit, and most of the small pieces of chrome or trim.
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I picked up my suspension pieces and frame from Powdercoat at the end of July. I am really pleased how it turned out. Funny story about picking it up, they brought it out on a cart with four guys, I didn't want to get in the way so I stood back until they asked me to help move it onto the trailer. So we had 5 guys moving the frame. My wife was watching and thinking to herself how her and I loaded it on the trailer by ourselves and it will probably be just the two of us unloading it and here we have 5 guys moving it. But seriously I do appreciate their caution.
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Unloaded in the shop ready to start going back together. You can see the shell in the background and at this point I pretty much had it completely stripped ready for the next phase.
 

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The next thing I decided to have done that was a change from the original plan pre-Malibu sale was have the shell blasted. Since I was struggling getting it stripped to bare metal due to the heavy surface rust, this became a no brainer. I was able to get in contact with a semi-local mobile blaster with really fair prices.
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Chevelle condition before blasting.
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Shell blasted. I also had him do my seat frames, rear end housing, core support and tie bars, and fender extensions. He was able to get the entire shell including the bottom. No panel warpage and no surprise issues. I am very please with how it came out. You might notice I didn't have him do the doors or the fenders, that is because I decided to purchase both of those new. I ordered Restoparts doors from Summit and after two damaged sets I ended up buying the better two at a discount. The fenders I just bought last week at the Springfield, Mo annual swap meet and I also decided after having some conversations with some other Chevelle guys to go ahead and purchase full quarters as well as outer wheelhouses. So I basically have almost all new sheetmetal for it. Still a budget build, just not as tight of a budget as I planned on.
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One other cool part I got unexpectedly was a '70 SS dash. I wasn't really looking for one and I had told myself I was going to be fine with the original sweep dash with an aftermarket tach and gauges added. However my local friend who had contacted my earlier about the '70 rear bumper sent me a message that he had put some coilovers on his car and was I interested in his Hotchkis springs and Bilstein shocks, which I was. When I went to pick them up there were two SS dashes there and he said he was going to do a Dakota Digital install in his car. He had to buy two dashes to get the one he wanted but had this whole one with gauges and harness if I was interested.... Umm yeah I can do that. It is in get shape with the only issue being the CD player hole which doesn't bother me. I believe that it will officially now have everything to make it appear to be a '70 even though that wasn't my original plan and I just intended on the front end swap.
 

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This last post will get me caught up to current and the updates will be in real time from here. I ordered SPI black epoxy primer before I had the car blasted so I could get it primed before it flashed rusted. I have used the SPI stuff before on my Gasser and really like their products.
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My plan from here is to finish assembling the suspension and brakes on the frame, finish up the motor, and get the motor and trans installed on the frame. After that I have a little welding to do to the core support, rear seat pan, and trunk and then I think I will put the body back on the frame and make it run and yard drive before I start quarter panel replacement.
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One last photo, Mocked one of the new fenders up on the car. I also want to report that I put a vintage air unit on order 18 weeks out. I originally planned on rehabbing the original system, but after adding up the cost of a new condenser, hoses, compressor/brackets, evaporator and accessories not to mention finding most of the vacuum lines chewed up by mice I decided it was worth it to buy the vintage air. Excited to make progress on this thing.
 

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I can't believe how nice the floor and rockers are.....wow......
I definitely got lucky when I found this one.
Good progress up to this point. I'm suprised you have the intermediate wire loom tabs on the floor. Mine had none of those.
Must be a KC car. Mines a Cali car.
It is a KC car.
 

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Been making some slow process lately. I bought another set of bucket seat cores off marketplace because I was missing the tracks and one retractor/latch assembly. I figured I could use these to help me get my set back together and then sell whatever I have leftover when I have mine back together. I have been using the new seats to mockup in the car and get the bucket seat conversion brackets welded to the floor. I used diagrams and reference material found here on TC to properly place the seats and console.
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I also have been working on the frame assembly, but don't have pictures at this time. I have the front suspension reassembled with the Hotchkiss springs and Bilstein shocks. Just need to get the steering components cleaned up, painted and installed to be finished up front. I pulled the axles out of the 12 bolt last night to inspect everything. The twelve bolt was rebuilt before it was installed in the Monte and has very little miles on it so I wasn't expecting to find any issues. It looks like new axle seals and pinion seal is all I need to be good to go.
 

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Been making some progress on the Engine and Rolling Frame assembly.
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Painted and ready to install.
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Frame ready for engine
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Almost complete rolling frame assembly. Just missing steering and driveshaft. The whole combo includes the 501 BBC, 400 turbo, transgo shiftkit, Coan convertor, 12 bolt 3.73 posi, Southside machine rear control arms and frame braces, Hotchkis springs, and Bilstein shocks. Plan from here is to get the trunk pan and rear seat pan patched and then get the body back on the frame and work on getting the engine fired up.
 
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