Driving Therapy: Restoring A ’70 Chevelle SS To Cope With A Big Move

There’s no mistake that Chevolet’s  ’70 Chevelle will draw a crowd at any show. Make that Chevelle glass-smooth black with Harley Davidson Orange stripes, and it’ll kill the competition. We fell in love with this car the moment we laid eyes on it. What’s more, the more we learned about it, the more we liked it.


Take a look from twenty feet back, and you’ll immediately notice the expertly-painted exterior, and the Legend wheels by Foose Design. Take a couple steps closer, and you’ll really appreciate the DuPont black and orange hues that were covered with eight coats of clear before being cut and buffed smooth.

This is the kind of car that just looks good from every angle—inside and out.

Under the hood it is not spotless, but it is clean. You can see the character of having a few miles of use. But, in our eyes, that just makes it look tougher. The chrome fenderwells and orange firewall complete the look in the engine bay.

70 Chevelle

The chrome fender wells and orange firewall really stand out and do a great job accenting what’s under the hood.

The interior is just as nice as the exterior, and shows that the quality of the car is more than skin-deep. The interior goes well with the exterior colors, and features a smooth, classic black vinyl matched perfectly to the same orange you see on the outside. If you know what you’re looking at, you’ll notice the front seats are just a little different than stock, and are actually out of a Pontiac GTO.

The Bow Tie in the package tray is a nice touch and works well with the rest of the car. Notice too, how the orange in the seats line up with the stripes on the car.

More Than just A Show Car

I could tell, even under the heavy coat of dust, that there was something special there – Sean Root

The owner of this car, Sean Root, is a resident of the Western Puget Sound area in Washington. “In 2010, I moved from Alaska to Washington,” Sean told us. “I sold my house and everything else I owned, including my ’58 Chevy Bel Air and my ’58 Chevy truck. I was looking for a new project to keep me busy, and I found this Chevelle on Craigslist.”  When he found it, the car was a partially-completed project that had been started, but was left unfinished. That was perfect for Sean. “I could tell, even under the heavy coat of dust, that there was something special there.”

The car as it looked when it arrived with Sean (left) and a sample of what it looked like while Sean was completing the assembly (right).

“I call my Chevelle ‘Therapy’, because building it helped me through a big change in my life,” Sean continued. For him, the rebuild of his car was a way for him to cope with such a big move and the sale of both his previous classics. The process of working with his hands and finishing the car was therapeutic, and the goal of completion was something to look forward to.

70 Chevelle

Building Therapy
When he bought it, the car was covered in dust and was only partially assembled. “I spent the next five months in the garage, averaging twelve hours a day reassembling the Chevelle and adding my own personal touches,” he explained, “such as the Foose wheels, Hotchkis suspension, CPP front-disc brakes, HID headlights, Flowmaster exhaust, a dash full of Auto Meter gauges, and a complete wiring harness from American Autowire.”

The dash has all the specifics covered and looks nice, while providing a full-readout of current conditions under the hood of the car.

The Chevelle was painted when Sean acquired it, and it came with the interior, new glass, and a new front clip. All that Sean needed to do was focus on customization and reassembly. It took a lot to complete the rebuild, as it’s hard enough to put a car together after taking it apart, but to start with a car in pieces is an entirely different story. There was a lot of assembly and taking things back apart in order to achieve the perfect fit the second time around.

70 Chevelle

Installing the glass and getting the door and quarter windows to line up perfectly was particularly tough. “There are no door pillars, and the window alignment has to be perfect in order for them to seal and work properly,” Sean explained. “It took three days of tweaking and adjusting to get it right.” Another challenge was wiring the car. Sean stated, “The American Autowire harness came with great instructions though, and their customer service staff was supportive and ready to help, so it made things easier.”

The interior was put together extremely well, and it's hard to really appreciate the quality without seeing it in person.


The project came with the engine already rebuilt and assembled, and remains somewhat of a mystery to Sean. It is a 350 small-block, and it runs great.” It’s most assuredly not stock, but he has no idea what parts were used in the construction.

The engine does have an Edelbrock Performer intake and four-barrel carburetor to match. He’s upgraded the ignition to an MSD system, and makes use of 8.5 mm super-conductor spark-plug wires. Along with the CPP front disc brakes and Hotchkis suspension, a 2-inch front drop and 1-inch rear drop make the stance just right. The transmission is a Turbo 350 automatic and the rearend is a 10-bolt.

The chrome fender wells and orange firewall get a lot of positive comments – Sean

The engine bay itself has also been dressed up in a rather unique way. We’re certain you noticed the orange firewall that accents the custom Super Sport striping and chrome inner fender wells. That’s actually one of Sean’s favorite things about his car. “The chrome fenderwells and orange firewall get a lot of positive comments,” he told us. “It surprises people.” We’re sure that nobody is expecting to see chrome and orange “pop” under the hood like that.

Sean drives his car quite a bit, but it still looks great under the hood.

A Little History Lesson

This Chevelle was actually produced near the beginning of the 1970 model year. It rolled off the Van Nuys, Californaia, assembly line during the first week of January 1970. It came from the factory covered in Astro Blue, and had a Medium Blue cloth interior, and a bench seat.

Down The Road

The future for this car does not hold a lot of crazy changes. But, a few touch-ups are planned here and there to keep Sean busy. He plans on eventually installing a Vintage Air A/C system. Let’s face it, a black car with a black interior can get hot, especially during the summer driving season.

70 Chevelle

Sean also plans on changing out the wheels and tires when the time is right. He wants something wider, and either polished aluminum or powdercoated black. Either way, it’ll definitely compliment the car well. He’d also like to add disc brakes to the rear, and bigger front and rear sway bars. Eventually, cruise control would be nice as well.

What do you think of the orange and black color combination? We think it's a great look on this Chevelle.

Looking Back

Initially, Sean was drawn to this car because the ’70 Chevelle is one of his dream cars. He saw a big, black, ‘70s Chevelle drive by in his neighborhood when he was young. “About a block down the road, it got in an accident and ended up on its roof. Someone had pulled out and hit him in the passenger side,” Sean detailed. “Something about that event impressed me. I thought, ‘that car was so cool’.

Since he’s been old enough to drive, Sean has owned a classic car to take cruising. “Most of the time, it was my daily driver too,” he said. “I love all kinds of old cars.”

As a veteran in the field of auto rebuilding, Sean has some good advice for those looking to rebuild a classic. “Buy the best car that you can afford,” Sean told us. He wants you to find the most complete car you can so that you can start with something nice. “If at all possible, drive it while you rebuild it. Don’t buy a project car just because it’s cheap. It’ll end up costing you more in the long run and you may get discouraged and not finish the project.”

Photo gallery


About the author

Kyler Lacey

A 2015 Graduate from Whitworth University, Kyler has always loved cars. He grew up with his dad's '67 Camaro in the garage and started turning wrenches at a young age. At seventeen, he bought his first classic, a '57 Chevy Bel Air four-door, and has since added a '66 Plymouth Valiant and '97 Cadillac Deville to his collection. When he isn't writing for Power Automedia, he's out shooting pictures at car shows, hiking in the forests of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, or working on something in the garage.
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