From Demolition Derby To The Racetrack: Matt Grant’s ’69 Chevelle

Kern County Raceway Park (KCRP) – a racetrack not steeped in history like it’s sisters to the north, The Okie Bowl (Bakersfield Speedway), or even more celebrated, Famoso Raceway. It was nevertheless a sight to behold as the setting for our story. 

Check out Matt Grant's '69 Chevelle, we spotted at the MuscleKingz Car Show and Concert. Full length feature coming soon!

Posted by Street Muscle Magazine on Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A few weeks ago, we made our way to KCRP, for the Muscle Kings Car Show and Concert. While there, we saw a myriad of gorgeous cars, as you can imagine…it being a car show, and all. Shocker! You can check out our recap of the show, here

There was one car in particular that stood out among a crowd of bowties, Mopars, and blue ovals. A 69’ Chevelle all by it’s lonesome sat at the end of a row of cars – it’s owner and his father sat in lawn chairs behind the glistening brandy-colored beast. 

We approached, not making it too obvious we were interested in the car – unlike some other journalists that simply jump on a car because of it’s looks, or stature in the industry, and decide to feature it based solely on that or its powerplant, we like to get the story first. 

Part of being a good journalist is going undercover to uncover a story. You don’t necessarily want the owner of the car, part, or business to know you’re with the media right away…although, there is a time and place for that. If they know you’re with the media, they might embellish their story, or not divulge pertinent information – like if it’s already been featured in another title.

This time, we approached the owner like any other car-guy might, asking about his car – poking, prodding a little bit to see if there is a story. This is also a good time to take stock of the owner themselves – whether they’re approachable, courteous, polite, inviting, etc. 

Matt Grant was all of the above. Once we asked him about his ride, it was apparent, there is most certainly a story here! 

Matt told us the Chevelle was originally purchased by his grandmother in ’69 for the, now paltry, sum of $3,342.25. Can you imagine buying a Chevelle of this caliber for that much, now? How about any Chevelle, for that much? Ha! Good luck. 

Matt’s grandparents used the car as their daily driver for years until his Mother and Aunt were of driving age. Eventually the car sat until his his Mother and Father inherited it. Matt was 12 years old, and when they brought it home, his first thought was that it would make the perfect demolition derby car. 

When Matt’s father first got his hands on it, it was in pretty rough shape, but the body was relatively solid. He promptly took it to a body shop and had a paint job sprayed for a few grand.

By the time Matt was 15, he did what all young men with a car like this at home do, and got to work on it. He cashed in all of his savings bonds he had collected from his days as a paperboy, and began rebuilding the tired, old 307 the car came equipped with from the factory. 

We’re sure many of you are thinking, why would you keep the 307?! Well, if you’re a purist, like Matt’s old man, that’s why. Like a good son, Matt obliged. He told us, “I first re-built the tired, old 307ci small block because my father wouldn’t let me change the original, numbers-matching motor.”

Eventually the modification itch started setting in on Matt, as it does to us all. He ended up doing random things here and there in the car, so the appeal of having an original, unmolested Chevelle was gone. By then, Matt said, “I decided I wanted to do something totally different with the car. I wanted to make it look different, and have people say ‘Wow! I haven’t seen a Chevelle like that before’.”

Matt got the idea to change out his dash on the Chevelle by swapping it out for something out of a modern car. Matt actually works at a body shop, and a wrecked 2015 Camaro showed up one day – airbags deployed and everything. Matt told us, “I started looking at the dash and thought to myself, ‘If I can make this fit into my car, it would be awesome and completely change the look of my Chevelle.’” 

Matt asked the owners of the Camaro if he could use their old dash in his build, and they were just as stoked on the idea as he was. Once the dash was in, Matt started assembling other odds and ends he liked, and the build took on a whole new direction. 

Since Matt had already taken the leap with the dash swap, he went all in with the rest of the interior. Matt reached out to a buddy who owns a stereo shop and had him do the trunk compartment with a a radical ported subwoofer setup you can see below. 

One of the things we love about these Chevelles is their racing heritage. Race car drivers, the likes of Bobby Allison, and Dan Gurney piloted Chevelles around nearly every kind of racetrack imaginable…you’ve heard of those guys, haven’t you?

 

Well, we thought, “what better way to remember those cars, and that heritage than by taking Matt’s car up on the banks of Kern County Raceway Park and snapping some photos just as the sun was going down?” He did go through a lifetime of work in about 3 years to save his beloved Chevelle from becoming a crash-up derby car, after all.

Thanks, Matt.

About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
Read My Articles

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