Home-Built Hero: Judd Middlebrooke’s 1969 Chevelle SS

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What grew to become an American icon, the ’69 through ’72 Chevelle SS model years are now some of the most sought after cars to obtain when it comes to choosing a classic musclecar. Dialing back the hands of time, this beauty was rebuilt in a small garage behind a small house in Plant City, Florida. Behold, Judd Middlebrooke’s 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS in all its glory.

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The Hugger Orange paint on Judd’s Chevelle helps to bring out every detail.

Keeping It Pristine

Judd’s Chevelle can be seen at local cruise nights or car shows on on occasion, and as hard as it is to beleive, this classic has been in its current state dating all the way back to 2001. “I drive it on weekends, and in all honesty, six to 10 times a year for shows,” he said. “The car has won awards at four local shows here in Florida.”

It only took Judd a mere 18 months to build the Chevelle, and as you can see, came out as beautiful as can be. “When I first got the car, it ran and drove, but it needed a complete restoration,” he said. “I wanted a Camaro or a Chevelle, and this is all I could find. This car is a true Super Sport, and I found it sitting in the previous owner’s yard.”

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Committed to keeping it original, Judd did everything in his power to preserve the Chevelle’s identity without turning it into a custom or restomod.

Judd tells us that the car was mostly in original condition when he found it, but it was missing the factory wheels. After dismantling the car piece by piece, he found a few surprising problems that needed to be dealt with. “There was plenty of rust from the car sitting in the yard for all those years, which made the car a much more extensive restoration process than I initially thought,” he said. “I contemplated giving up on this project for a while, but as luck would have it, I ran into a gentleman who had a rust-free body out of Texas, which had been sitting in a rental unit for 10 years.”

I feel fortunate to have a car of this caliber, with 100 percent factory sheetmetal.
– Judd Middlebrook

Wasting no time, Judd bought the Texas donor car, and replaced the rusted metal on his car with the good stuff. “The car is now rust-free, and retains all original GM sheetmetal,” he said. “This was a true frame-off restoration.”

The timeless body design and hard lines stand out with GM Hugger Orange paint that brings out every detail on the musclecar. “I’ve owned the car for 17 years now, and I primarily drive it to cruise nights on weekends, and occasionally take it to car shows,” he said. The subtle stripes on each side of the vehicle help break apart the smooth and curvy fenders.

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From the side emblems to the side markers and taillights, Judd stayed faithful to the original aesthetics.

Owning three other cars, which include a 1968 Chevelle Malibu, and 1967 Camaro — one we featured recently on Chevy Hardcore, we are familiar with Judd’s passion and dedication to All-American classics. “My original motivation with this Chevelle was to bring it back to its original form,” he said.

Quick Chevelle Facts

This car may be the one succeeded by the legendary 1970 Chevelle SS 454, but it shouldn’t be swept under the rug. Recognized as an icon during the musclecar era, the 1969 Chevy Chevelle had a few styling changes that included new taillights. With sales on the rise and the demand growing for the car, the SS 396 became an optional package on all Chevelles. The 396 engine had three different power variations with 325, 350, and 375 horsepower, respectively.

The Beauty

With 108,000 miles on the odometer, there’s plenty of life left in this classic, and plenty to drool over. Let us dive in and tell you more about the build.

Keeping things original, Judd remained loyal to the original specifications, maintaining the L78 396 cubic-inch big-block engine under the hood that sports a factory spec of 325 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. The car still uses the factory intake and Quadrajet carburetor, but the ignition was upgraded with an MSD distributor to keep the spark strong. Also, in true hot-rodder fashion, a set of Hedman headers are attached to the block.

Behind the engine is an M21 Muncie four-speed manual transmission shifted by a Hurst shifter inside the passenger compartment. To note, the L78 engine is what makes these classics such a sought-after vehicle, as it was one of the most powerful regular production option (RPO) engines available.

This is a complete, numbers-matching SS Chevelle that remains all original.
– Judd Middlebrook

Stopping power is provided by the factory front disc and rear drum brake setup. A Chevrolet performance standard, this Chevelle is equipped with the factory 12-bolt rearend that sports 3.73 gears. “I rebuilt the engine myself,” Judd said. “What I like most about the car is its sheer power and drivability.”

The L78 V8 engine puts down plenty of power to the wheels, and the paint may not be the original, but it helps make the Chevelle stand out from the crowd. “Surprisingly, the original color of the car was Tuxedo Black, which I hope to bring back soon,” he said. That change will make the car truly original, with the exception of the headers and electronic ignition. Judd said, “I feel fortunate to have a car of this caliber, with 100 percent factory sheetmetal.” The paint on the Chevelle was done by Brett Anderson and Thi Trong Do at the collision repair shop in which Judd works in Tampa. The chassis is as factory refurbished as the day it was new, maintaining the car’s true to original specifications.

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Standing alone, this Chevelle can definitely hold its own with its powerful engine and timeless looks.

“Everything has been restored to factory original except the radio,” Judd said. “Although the original wheels were missing, the wheels on the Chevelle are factory 14-inch SS wheels that Judd added during the rebuild.” Those factory wheels are wrapped with 225/70R14 B.F. Goodrich T.A. rubber on each corner. Finally, the car has power steering to make maneuverability easier for Judd.

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Heading inside, the Chevelle’s black vinyl interior might not be as plush as a new Camaro or Corvette, but it is super clean. “I took the time to do the interior myself as well,” Judd said. From the dash to the seats and door panels, he restored everything, making it just as fresh as when the car rolled off the factory line decades ago.

It is surprising that the only non-original component inside is the radio.

Looking Ahead

In the end, we tip our hat to Judd and his beautiful ’69 Chevelle, which has been slightly modernized for use today, but still holds onto its original identity. With these cars becoming harder and harder to find, it’s rare to find one this nice that gets used and enjoyed.

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Rust-free from head to toe, Judd’s Chevelle is simply astonishing.

Judd would like to give special thanks to Boyd Brothers Hot Rods out of Valrico, Florida, for helping him with the numerous projects he has taken on over the years, including this one. “This car is a dream to drive, and although I have had numerous offers to sell it, I plan on holding onto this car for a long time,” he said.

It may not be quite as original as it could be, but this Chevelle is a wonderful example of knowing that with hard work and faith, you can indeed build a beautiful car right out your own garage. From the orange block, to the all-original parts underneath, and on the exterior, this Chevelle is a great tribute to the era of unfiltered American muscle.

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About the author

nicaguon

Nic Aguon is a graduate from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and mass communications and holds a passion for sleek and unique automobiles. Serving as a Staff Writer for multiple publications at Power Automedia, Nic pledges to bring readers clean and concise storytelling that hits the nail right on the head. A jack of all trades, his interests range from imports to American muscle, hot rods, and Kustoms.
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