Tom Mullally loves Chevelle convertibles. In fact, he has owned a ’69, ’70, ’71, and ’72 model, which makes him a true fan of one of the most popular cars of the musclecar era. It would have been easy to turn this 1970 Chevelle Super Sport convertible into a nice show-and-go car, but Tom wanted something a little different than what is usually found on display at car shows. What he wanted was a head-turning, highly-customized musclecar. But, he also wanted a car that still retained the flavor of the original.
Building The Dream
When building his previous Chevrolet Chevelles. Tom decided to stick with a program that worked, so he enlisted the services of John Wargo of The Custom Shop in Flanagan, Illinois. John had built seven other cars for Tom over the past decade, and each one was even more impressive than the last. This project would be no different, and after talking to John, the guys came up with a few ideas to make Tom’s dream car come to life. There was, however, a small hitch in their giddy-up. The schedule would only allow a tight six month window to build the car. At the end of that schedule was the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and Tom was already making plans to debut the car.
Make no mistake, just because the car would make its debut at he SEMA show, does not mean this is a show pony. Tom is not the type of guy that treats his rides like a show piece, keeping them hidden behind glass with a posted sign that says “break glass only in case of car show.” Instead, Tom is of the mindset that cars were made to be driven, and he puts them to the test by driving them hard. Keeping that in mind, John and company knew the car not only had to look good, but it also needed to deliver the owner’s performance expectations.
The Chevelle was delivered to John at The Custom Shop, and the crew kicked off the build by immediately disassembling the car in preparation for what would be a complete rebuild. Right away, the plan meant the stock 1970 frame would not be part of the master plan. Keeping Tom’s driving habits in mind, The Custom Shop decided a much more formidable foundation was needed, especially in consideration of the monster engine that would eventually sit between the rails. A chassis was ordered from the Roadster Shop, and as soon as that was in-house, the madness and mayhem of the build began.
A Solid Foundation
The suspension consists of tubular upper and lower A-arms, with coilover shocks on each corner. The rear is supported by a Roadster Shop four-link with a 1-inch antisway bar to flatten out the curves. A custom rear is stuffed with a Moser differential and 3.73 gears.
A pair of 18×8-inch Weld Racing wheels are mounted on the nose and 18×11-inchers spin on the rear. Traction and cornering grip comes from Continental DW tires, measuring 245/45R18 and 295/35R18 respectively. Wilwood brakes with slotted and cross-drilled rotors were bolted to the chassis, and then the system was plumbed with stainless steel brake lines. Wilwood’s billet aluminum reservoir master cylinder and proportioning valve supplies pressurized brake fluid to each brake. The rack-and-pinion steering was linked to a Flaming River tilt steering column, and topped with a Grant GT steering wheel.
With the chassis squared away, it was time to add some go power. The Chevelle’s propulsion comes from a Chevrolet Performance 572 cubic-inch crate engine. Surprisingly, the delivered 620 horsepower was not enough for Tom, so a Procharger F1-series supercharger was added. The combination brings the horsepower figures to nearly 1,000, with roughly seven to eight pounds of boost. To keep the drivability of the car, a Holley Terminator self-tuning fuel-injection system was installed.
I have had The Custom Shop build seven cars for me over the last ten years and each one is better than I could ever imagine. -Tom Mullally
Other modifications include an Eddie Motorsports performance pulley system, a Spectra Performance air cleaner, and an MSD electronic ignition. After installing the radiator core-support, a Wizard Cooling’s aluminum radiator with SPAL electric fans was put into service, and provides ample cooling within the finished car. Feeding fuel to the big-block is a Holley fuel pump sitting inside a custom stainless-steel fuel tank. Exhaust gasses are sent through a pair of 2-inch-diameter tuned Hedman headers into a 3 1/2-inch diameter Pypes dual-exhaust system. A Bowler Performance Turbo 400 transmission links all the performance action, putting the control in the hands of a very happy owner.
Putting It All Together
Next on the list was mounting the body to this all-new modern frame. Since this car was a typical rusty midwest car, a lot of the original body panels and floorboards were replaced with Goodmark sheetmetal. Adding a functional cowl-induction hood with hood pins was a must-have request from the owner. The front bumper is a new Goodmark piece that has a custom spoiler attached. The spoiler was built from an inverted and split-in-half, 1966 Chevelle bumper. After welding the spoiler into place, The Custom Shop went a step further and molded-in a set of custom-made LED lights that are nearly invisible when turned off. Finishing the modern upgrades are a pair of Dapper halo-style headlights and fog lights, along with LED taillights from Dakota Digital.
Once the Chevelle’s metalwork repair and replacement was complete and all of the body panels fitted and adjusted, it was time for paint. The bumpers were sprayed with Pro-Spray Charcoal Spectra Pearl paint with a satin clearcoat, and the body received Pro-Spray’s Speed Red paint with silver and gray custom graphics on the hood and trunk lid.
The installation of the custom gray and red leather TMI interior kit was the next step. The kit is stretched over the stock seat frames; installed in-house by The Custom Shop crew. Deno’s Auto Upholstery covered the dash that houses the Dakota Digital gauges and Sony head unit. The custom center console was also covered in gray leather, and houses the shifter, stainless-steel cup holder, and Holley’s touchscreen monitor that controls the fuel-injection system. The trunk also received plenty of TLC, and blends nicely with the rest of the interior. The trunk houses Sony amplifiers that supply approximately 4,000 watts of power to a pair of 12-inch Sony subwoofers and four Sony 6½-inch component speakers. The custom trunk panels were designed so they could easily be removed for storage access. Finishing off the build is a Haartz convertible cloth top.
After six months of working long days, this radical 1970 Super Sport convertible, dubbed “Red One” (which is a spin on the color as well as the general total makeover), was completed. Tom Mullally is happy to say that he got a world class, custom-built musclecar, and since the build was completed on time, John had the chance to debut his talents to the automotive world at the 2014 SEMA Show.