Detroit Speed Builds a Super-Musclecar Out Of This ’70 Chevelle

dsechevelle-leadartBack in the day, there were various monikers tossed upon cars depending on what their primary intended use was to be. Super cars claimed the ultimate spot in speed, and merited the largest coverage on bedroom walls of many a youthful enthusiast.

Then, there were muscle cars, those straight-line destined monsters whose hearts pumped massive amounts of fuel in the never-ending search of torque. They ruled the streets, one green light at a time.

High-revving sports cars careened around racetracks in the constant pursuit of perfect apexes. Enthusiasts flocked into their fenced-in confines to watch them duke it out on twisting, flowing and many times, over-crowded stretches of asphalt.

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Breaking Barriers

Today’s enthusiast has many more options when designing a particular dream car for themselves. Ironically, as this 1970 Chevelle has proven, builders are no longer limited to pick only one style which to pigeon-hole their particular creation.

There’s no doubting that a big-block ’70 Chevelle would fit squarely into the muscle car genre, but with the talented crew at Detroit Speed Inc. and today’s availability of parts that blend aspects from all of the major build styles, this particular A-body now has attributes that will securely seat it at the front of the pack in any classification. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Moe, a first-time customer of Detroit Speed, handed his 1970 Chevelle to the team and clearly stated that he wanted a daily driver, but it also had to merit classification as a super car. That meant more than simply muscle car power, it also meant that it needed to handle twists and turns and be equally-capable at hyper speeds. Not an easy chore when you think about it!

The foundation was a clean big-block Chevelle that would soon get more of everything!

Not-So Humble Beginnings

When the car came to Detroit Speed, it was fitted with a 502ci big-block Chevrolet engine. Many folks would stop there, but there is so much more available today.

The final goal for the car is to be driven, the customer wanted a classic super car that could be driven every day and that pretty much nails it. –Chris Porter, Detroit Speed

That meant that the engine gave way to more modern LSX power that was further assisted by supercharging. The entire fire-breathing teddy-bear of an engine was assembled by Mast Motorsports and tuned using a Holley Dominator computer.

The engine displaces 427 cubic inches while the supercharger specs out to 4.0 Liters and has the option to feed off of 93-octane pump gas, C16 race gas, or E85 Ethanol. The Dominator ECU dutifully handles tunes for each fuel with simply a click of a button. Initial tuning has produced 863rwhp on E85 fuel.

The Mast Motorsports-built crate engine features a Whipple supercharger and is backed by a custom Bowler GM 4L80E transmission. Both are controlled by the Holley Dominator ECU.

Beyond simply power, this Chevelle has to be quick on its feet when the road or track makes a turn. To help with that, team DSE unbolted the entire chassis from under the car and started fresh. That meant that ladder-style frame rails were added for strength and rigidity and modified to accept a Detroit Speed QUADRA-Link rear suspension assembly. To further the trip to the rear tires, a DSE-fabricated nine-inch houses 3.89 gears and a Truetrac power-splitter.

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To blend the line between daily-driver and curves dominator, a full complement of JRI double-adjustable shocks front and rear allow for a full spectrum of handling and ride comfort. The front suspension received the same level of attention with a complete DSE-fabricated assembly, including steering and spindles. To bring the car back from super car status, a set of carbon-ceramic brake rotors have been fitted, thanks to the Corvette ZR1 parts bin.

mo70chevelle-2012The Finer Details

Blending bodywork that still conveys the muscle car heritage while broadening the envelope into super car status requires talent, and restraint. You don’t hang tassels on the Mona Lisa, but giving her that inquisitive, enigmatic smile has baffled art scholars for centuries. Likewise, the smallest of details can render the face of a muscle car into masterpiece status.

Not making light of the fact that about every panel of the car has been massaged in one way or another, from floor to roofline, it’s the smaller details that catch the eye. Items like the brushed trim that surrounds the taillights and turn signals, or handles that are flush-mounted into the door skins continue to draw the viewer’s attention, edging them on to explore where that fine line between modified and original resides.

Many modifications do not scream their presence, but award the observer for their continued viewing. Comparing items to those found on original cars might be the only way to clearly define all of the modifications.

Other modifications that scream silently are the custom firewall that has been moved back six inches, the billet grille surrounds and SS emblems, the shaved side marker lights, completely modified front and rear bumpers and a custom rear valance.

Inside the car, there’s no doubt that this vessel is designed for daily-driven hyper speeds. Protective devices such as the five-point harnesses and ten-point roll bar are so seamlessly woven into the relaxed aura created by the modern comforts that you might easily miss them. Truth be told, the harness bar IS removable when more sedated driving habits are intended. But when the tall, skinny pedal is pressed, both are equally necessary, and utilized.

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Mechanical Masterpiece

For starters, pun intended, the vehicle utilizes a remotely-operated ignition, where Moe can start his car from the full-on-custom dash, featuring a designated push-button, or his iPhone, if he so chooses. Other components massaged into the one-piece, hand-fabricated metal dash include an integrated front and rear camera system, complete with full LED lighting options and DSE’s own custom instrument cluster.

The interior is a blend of tasteful modification and infusion of modern amenities. Well thought out placement and application hint that the mods may actually be factory.

Under the artful dash, is a Vintage Air system with automatic climate control to cool or heat the occupants as needed, and if more climate control is necessary, the custom Recaro seats also feature heat and cool provisions to further the mandated season control. Other soft surfaces of the interior were masterfully covered by the team at M&M Hot Rod Interiors.

Going beyond the normal vinyl and mundane leather, they opted for True Grain Leather and Alcantara to improve the property value inside the cockpit. The work inhabits not only the typical seats and door skins, but also finds itself quality-stitched around the dash pad, the console and even the steering wheel. The effect so infuses the feel of a highly-engineered machine that if you hadn’t seen the Chevelle body that encompasses it as you entered, you would be hard pressed to prove this wasn’t a car of super status, crafted by artisans of another genre.

Make no mistake, Moe's '70 Chevelle clearly has the muscle to be a muscle car, thanks to the supercharged Mast Motorsports LSx crate engine. The handling and attention to detail firmly set the Chevelle into super car realm.

It is impossible to squeeze this Chevelle into a particular style of automobile, as there are so many other characteristics from other categories or others that don’t fit into one simple stereotype. That’s the working definition of a sum that is greater than merely its parts. Each individual component has a place in the spectrum of automotive uses, but when you so skillfully combine them into a package that doesn’t decry one part over another, the end result is an auto that clicks off all the boxes. Such is the case with Moe’s ’70 Chevelle.

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About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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