Everyone has a reason for building a car that ultimately brings them joy and satisfaction. For some, that satisfaction is derived from finishing a custom lead-sled or a street rod. For others like Jody Sheeder, it requires classic Chevrolet muscle. That’s why he chose to build this 1970 Malibu that he purchased back in 2008. The car was a former drag race car that had been beaten and bruised from years of dragstrip pounding, and he and his wife Sunny purchased the car with plans that it will be freshened-up, and once again make passes down the dragstrip. When Jody purchased the Chevelle, it was fitted with a stout small-block, but that is being replaced with a 454 cubic-inch big-block that has been opened up to 496 cubic-inches. The engine is filled with parts like; an Eagle rotating assembly, SRP 12.0:1 pistons, a Bullet solid-roller camshaft, a Sniper Profiler intake, 1050 Holley carburetor, and a Milodon oil pan and windage tray. Jody tells us the engine made 700 horsepower when dyno tested.
When Jody was disassembling the car and checking the parts that came with it, he noticed that the narrowed rear still had the stock 28-spline axles in use. This presented a problem, as the machinist that cut and re-splined them, never heat-treated the newly-splined area. This allowed the axles to twist and become unusable. To fill the previously-cut rearend housing, Jody installed a Yukon center section made from 6061-aluminum, fitted with a Richmond ring-and-pinion gear, and 35-spline axles. It was at this time that he also learned the wheel offset was incorrect, explaining why the previous builder butchered the quarter-panels for clearance.
While Jody was working on the car, a very close friend and mentor, Dave Ellingson unfortunately passed. Dave was a Master Chief in the Navy, and Jody and the others that served with called him “Big Dave.” In honor of his friend, the Chevelle instantly took on the name “Big Dave.”
When it came time to start the metal work to repair the body, Jody and his nephew Cody got busy installing temporary bracing inside the body to give it support while a lot sheetmetal was removed and replaced. There was a rollcage in the car when Jody bought it, but it was not sufficient to pass NHRA certification, so it was also removed. Jody began by replacing one quarter-panel at a time, and then started replacing the floors. With help from Chris Shoemaker and Gary Duckwall, they removed the entire floor pan and installed a new tube-type floor structure with the new floorpan. While they were cutting and welding, they also installed a new rollcage that is inspected and certified to 8.50-seconds. Since this will be a race car, the Sheeders ordered new fiberglass doors, deck lid, and front and rear bumpers to keep weight at a minimum.
The front suspension has been rebuilt with new GM parts, Wilwood brakes and rotors, and 2-inch drop spindles. The rear suspension features QA1 shocks and springs, and Jody custom made the shock mounting area.
The car is still under construction, and Jody tells us that his thoughts about a theme for the car reflect on all the Navy men and women that he served with. That is why he decided to paint the car Navy Blue, and add their names to the car in gold lettering.
We can’t wait to see how Jody’s Navy-tribute Chevelle looks when it’s completed, and hopefully, he’ll keep us updated on the progress.