Hit any car show and cruise night, and you will most assuredly see a multitude of 1968 through 1972 Chevelles. They are viewed by many as the perfect muscle car platform. Another great thing about Chevelles, is they also make great family cars. Mike Owens realizes this, and with the help of Ridetech, his ’70 Chevelle evolved into a racing tribute to his father as well as the perfect cruiser for him and his kids.
Mike’s love of all things fast began with his dad’s interest in Formula II racing. The passion for cars was something the duo always wanted to explore together. In fact, Mike and his dad had plans of restoring an LS6 Chevelle together. Unfortunately, that plan never had the chance to mature, as Mike’s father passed away from cancer.
Mike did not want to let the idea fade away, so he picked up a nice ’70 Chevelle SS396 to keep the dream alive. It might not be an LS6-powered monster, but it is no slouch either. The car was in nice shape, and Mike wrenched on it for a while, doing some maintenance stuff and simple personalization upgrades. But then, the project got kicked into overdrive.
The car had received a stock restoration some time ago, but obviously needed a little work before it could hit the road course for high-speed jaunts. Mike’s a busy guy, so finding time to handle the upgrades was hard to do. That’s why Mike chose Smitty’s Custom Automotive in Tiffin, Ohio, to develop his vision into a reality. Since there was no rust repair or paintwork to speak of, the ’70 Chevelle moved straight to the upgrade phase at Smitty’s.
First on the list was the installation of a brand new 6.2-liter LSA engine from Lingenfelter Performance Engineering. In stock form, this supercharged powerhouse packs a tire-frying 556 horsepower and 580 lb-ft of torque. In true hot-rodding fashion, that just wasn’t enough. Mike’s engine has received a bigger camshaft and hot cylinder heads to deliver more air and fuel to the burn. Currently, output is around 650 horsepower at the wheels. Behind that is a Bowler Performance Transmissions-sourced Tremec T-56 six-speed. A 9-inch axle assembly finishes off the drivetrain equation, while big Wilwood disc brakes slow the car at will.
Underneath the car is where the handling is, well, handled, and the chassis is all Ridetech. A set of StrongARM control arms and MUSCLEbar sway bars work together with Instinct electronic coilovers. Mike is in awe at how they work, “Instinct is incredibly responsive. It reacts to anything you do – very quickly – such as a lot of throttle, brake, and steering inputs. You can feel it constantly adjusting itself. On the street, Instinct is really comfortable”.
In stock form, a ’70 Chevelle’s rear-wheel opening will accommodate fairly wide tires, but fairly wide isn’t wide enough for Mike. For that reason, Smitty’s mini-tubbed the rear wheel wells and notched the frame in order to mount extra-wide 335mm rear tires and 18×12 Forgeline GT3C wheels. Up front, you’ll find matching wheels and tires that measure 18×11 and 315mm, respectively. As you might imagine, Mike’s ’70 Chevelle has a serious ability to hold-on to the road surface.
The interior features a mix of old and new, including a set of Sparco QRT-Carbon seats and Dakota Digital Gauges. Like we said, Mike is a busy guy and appreciates the fact that the family can enjoy rides in the car whether going for a milk shake or to a cruise night. With the help of Ridetech, Mike is able to honor his father and carry on that high-speed legacy with his kids.