When it comes to change, Frank Stech Jr. of Pitman, New Jersey, doesn’t necessarily dislike it, he just needs a good reason to accept it. Case in point, his feelings toward automobiles. Frank told us, “In January of 1972, I was a senior in high school. That was when my father and I went to Campbell Chevrolet in Blackwood, New Jersey, and ordered my 1972 Chevelle in Antique White with a black top.”
Frank Jr. spent most of his childhood helping grow the family business, and this Chevelle was how his father showed his appreciation for all his son’s hard work. According to Frank, “When I first saw the ’72 Chevelle body, I immediately fell in love. I wanted a Super Sport with an LS5 454 cubic-inch engine. I also wanted air conditioning, power steering, and a four-speed transmission.”
…I never thought about buying a Ford, and I didn’t care for the styling of the Mopar cars. – Frank Stech
Frank told us that he did entertain the idea of buying a new Corvette, but dear ole dad slammed the brakes on that idea. We’re certain Frank didn’t agree with his father at the time, but dad did probably feel that a sports car like the Corvette was not really something that could be used as a daily driver. For better or worse, the younger Frank opted for the Chevelle. Just to let you know, if we fast forward to the present day, Frank does now own a Corvette – actually, three of them: a 1967, 1969, and a 2008 model.
Although the high-performance Corvette was not an option back in 1972, Frank felt that ordering his Chevelle with the highest-rated-horsepower engine possible would satisfy his power craving. That meant checking the box on the order form that positioned the aforementioned, $272 extra, 270 horsepower (net rated) LS5 454 ci engine under the hood. Checking the correct boxes also meant that the Chevelle would be receiving the $350 Z15 Super Sport package. By adding air conditioning ($397.60), power steering ($113), the M22 four-speed transmission ($231), front disc brakes ($68), 3.31-geared Posi-filled 12-bolt rearend ($45), and an AM/FM-8 track ($363), Frank’s choices inflated the then selling price another $1,839.60.
Frank laughs now as he recalled, “I thought the gauge package and stripes came with the Super Sport package. When the car arrived and those were missing, I was a little upset. I told the dealer to go ahead and order the stripe stencils. I drove the car around for a couple of weeks, and my friends all said it looked clean without the stripes. Eventually, I told the dealer I didn’t want them anymore. If I knew then what I know today, I would have gotten them and stored them in the attic.”
The Legacy Begins
Frank’s dream Chevelle was delivered to the dealer in March of 1972, and he was surely one of the coolest kids at school driving Chevrolet’s newest street racer. Frank says that even after high school, his Chevelle was still used as daily transportation. He told us, “I drove the car every day between 1972 and 1979. In January of 1980, the mileage on the car was 78,650.” Frank got a smile on his face as he continued, “The only cosmetic thing I had done to the car during that period of time was to have it repainted and replace the black vinyl top in 1977. The car was never garage kept until my wife Barbara and I purchased our first home in 1980.”
Young Frank was of the mindset that he would keep his Chevelle for maybe five or six years, and then move on to the previously-unobtainable Corvette. But, plans change as Frank described, “After 1972, the Corvette’s styling was just not that nice, and the horsepower numbers kept decreasing.” That’s the reason the Chevelle remained as his daily driver, even while he attended college. Frank had a huge grin on his face when he told us, “I never raced it or beat it up.” He continued, “I did replace the clutch once, but that was 30 years ago. I was still a kid.”
Frank also said, “Starting in 1980, it became a car that I only used occasionally. By January of 1984, it had 87,500 on the odometer.” In the 32 years since then, it has traveled a total of 3,500 miles. Frank reports, “It has been garage kept from 1980 until today. It was never put into dead storage, and was maintained regularly. Since 1991 it has been stored in my climate controlled garage.”
All of this information brings us to the present, and to verify that Frank is not one to change things just for the sake of change, just look at his Chevelle. As evidence of the care the car has received since 1972, the only thing that even suggests a “restoration”, is the fact that it did receive another exterior repaint in 2003. That’s when Mike’s Hot Rod Shop in Warminster, Pennsylvania, stripped the paint off the car and gave it fresh coat of factory Antique White. During this makeover, another new vinyl top was also installed, the bumpers were rechromed, the emblems and grill were replaced, a stock exhaust system, from Gardner Exhaust was installed, and the original radio was taken out and rebuilt.
The care that this 91,000 current-mileage car received in the previous years is evident, as the drivetrain (except for the previously mentioned clutch replacement) and interior have never been removed from the car. While we were taking the pictures, Frank said, “The wheels still have the original paint on them, and I still have the original trunk mat.”
Frank ended our conversation as he said, “The car will always be a part of my family, and I plan on keeping it as long as I live. This car has never let me down, and I have a lot of great memories with it. But, if I could do it all over again, I would have ordered it with the functional-door cowl-induction hood, gauge package, and maybe the rear window defogger.”