The 1970 Chevelle is arguably one of Chevrolet’s toughest looking musclecars. They may be bigger, and a little heavier than the slightly sportier Camaro of that same year, but while the Camaro had the sport-muscle look down pat, the Chevelle had an entirely different style in mind. The A-body just represents the kind of musclecar you don’t mess with.
That is exactly the persona that Michael Jones of Burlington, Washington, fell in love with when he found his 1970 SS Chevelle. It’s more than just a car to Michael, as there have been times in his life where he has had to fight to hold onto it.
The tough looks and styling of this car exemplify the muscle movement of the late sixties and early seventies.
Every time I drive the car it gives me butterflies. – Michael Jones
“This is my dream car,” Michael told us. “Every time I drive the car it gives me butterflies.” Michael has owned the Chevelle for two decades, buying it in 1996. In the time since he acquired it, it hasn’t been resting on its laurels, he has put a lot of miles on it. MIchael told us that he doesn’t own the kind of car that sits dormant in a garage or shop. For the first many years that Michael owned it, it served as a nice, clean driver. Recently though, Michael made the decision to give the car the love it deserves, and decided to restore the car.
He was lucky enough to have purchased the car with the original engine still between its front fenders. Since it was all original, he rebuilt the car with a somewhat-stock restoration in mind. That being said, he did add a few touches of modernization to make it safer, more comfortable to drive, more powerful, and even a little more controllable.
For starters, the numbers matching engine does benefit from a few power upgrades, and the exterior does retain a stock look with the black paint, but a few modest changes do wonders for its presentation. The final look of this car may have hit the mark on a perfect combination of factory style and restomod improvement.
That's one good lookin' engine. Not only that, but it's the original engine to this car.
Buying The Car
Michael bought the car in May of 1996, in Bellingham, Washington. How he actually ended up buying it is a simple and straight forward story than we are used to hearing. This was no barn find, nor was it purchased from a friend-of-a-friend or Craigslist ad, and no distant relative left it as an inheritance: Michael bought the car from a dealership, and it really is that simple.
The little details are what make a car like this so impressive.
Michael got a call from a friend of his, tipping him off that this car had been traded in on a new GMC pickup at Chamber Chevrolet. Keep in mind, the year was 1996. “I drove up, wrote a check, and drove it home,” Michael told us. The car was exactly what he was looking for.
… So I accomplished my goal one year early. – Michael Jones
Michael drove the car from 1996 until 2007, when the engine spun a rod bearing and he had to rebuild the engine. At the time, he was content with keeping things simple, and to continue rolling with the factory equipment. The engine was rebuilt, and after years of use and him becoming all too familiar with the way the car drove and handled, in February of 2015, he knew it was time for a change. That is when he decided to start the restoration. “My goal was to complete the car’s restoration before I turned 50 years old,” Michael explained. “I turned 49 on September 25, of that year, so I accomplished my goal one year early.”
Holding on to The Dream
While Michael would never consider selling the car, there was a time when it almost slipped from his grasp. He went through a divorce, and the car almost had to go away. “As with any divorce, there is always the division of property between each party,” Michael explained. “We have all heard the horror stories of an ex-wife getting custody of the car and either selling it for pennies on the dollar or destroying it.”
This car looks food from every angle.
Michael and his ex had agreed that he would get to keep his car, but we all know how agreements like that can change. One day, Michael went back to the house to pick up his car shortly after the separation, and caught his “wife” with a locksmith trying to change the locks in an attempt to keep him out, and keep him from his car.
Planning ahead, he had disabled the Chevelle so noone could drive it until he returned to take it to his new home. Because of the situation he encountered when he went to get the car, instead of just taking it back with him, Michael hid his car at his mechanic’s mother’s house until the divorce was finalized.
A Mixture Of Old And New
Looking at Michael’s ‘70 Chevelle, it’s clear that a refreshing of sorts has taken place. However, the look of this black beauty suggests a different, meaner beast than your typical Chevelle. The cowl-induction hood and the factory SS stripes combined with the 17-inch replica SS wheels tells you there is something special going on here.
These are the perfect wheels for this car.
Although things have been kept mostly stock, there are changes made to this stunning Chevelle like the addition of Vintage Air A/C, a Pro Touring-style suspension, and an upgraded sound system. “I wanted a car that was a nice driver without sacrificing performance,” Michael said. “I got exactly what I wanted.”
The exterior of the car wasn't the only thing that got a little attention, the interior got a total refresher that includes a stunning Dakota Digital dash set.
We talked to Tom Brown, owner of the shop where a lot of the work was done on Michaels car, and we got his input on the bodywork and restoration. “It was your typical Washington car with rust in the floor and around the windows,” Tom told us. “It was a vinyl top car, so you know how that goes.”
They did a lot of work tightening the body gaps, and block sanded the heck out of the car to make sure it was straight enough for the black body with Pearl White stripes. After the paint was applied, the body was color sanded and buffed until it looked like a smooth piece of glass. The pictures don’t do this car justice, and there is no way they ever really could. Something like this has to be seen in person to really appreciate.
Keeping It On The Road
Michael has held on to the A-body for many years and through a divorce, which is something we can’t all say. So, we had to know; is this a babied car with only a dozen miles added to the odometer since the rebuild? Not a chance. Michael has put some miles on the tires since he got it back, so when we asked him how often he drives it, his answer was pretty simple, “Whenever it’s daylight.”
A good looking car deserves a good looking engine.
We previously mentioned that as part of the rebuild, he maintained the original 396 cubic-inch engine, but he added a little kick with the help of an Edelbrock intake and 750 cfm carburetor. A good choice if you ask us. The big-block is a good engine to begin with – tried and true by any standard, so juicing it up with a solid performing manifold and carburetor is one place where you just can’t go wrong.
He also added an MSD ignition, four-wheel disc brakes, a tilt steering wheel, Dakota Digital dash, and the passenger cabin has been outfitted with sound deadening material. The quiet cabin makes the perfect environment for the Alpine stereo system and Rockford Fosgate six-speaker stereo system.
Just look at the way those gauges glow! Even the modern stereo fits perfectly into the dash of this classic Chevelle.
The well-insulated and quiet cabin makes for good sounding tunes, while the tinted windows, new upholstery, and Vintage Air make for a comfortable cruise. Now rebuilt, the car is carrying on the tradition of doing good by him every time they take a cruise together.