For many enthusiasts, a stalled project car often becomes a permanent fixture of the garage, collecting dust, and serving as a silent testament to ambitions that faded away. The story of Steve Ferro’s Chevelle, however, diverges from this all-too-common tale. In 1983, Steve exchanged his 1977 Ford F150 for this Chevelle. It was a trade that marked the beginning of a long-standing relationship full of ups, and downs. This Chevelle, a symbol of American muscle, was driven with pride until an unfortunate incident led to a pause—a long pause that saw the car cloaked and stationary. Steve explains, “It had been sitting under a tarp out back at my auto repair shop for probably 15 years. I had lost interest after a body guy redid the body, but it came out so horrible that I got disgusted. It just sat under a tarp.” There it remained, a project, paused indefinitely.
After years of inactivity, the flames of passion for his project car could have waned beyond revival, but there was still a flicker of the original spark remaining. It was this undying ember, fanned by a close friend, that transformed his 1970 Chevelle SS from a forgotten dream into a roaring reality. His 1970 Chevelle SS, once relegated to the shadows under a tarp, became a vibrant emblem of the adage, “It’s never too late to reignite a lost dream.”
The narrative took a pivotal turn with the intervention of Tim Sudol—a friend whose craft is the restoration of automotive legends. Tim’s unexpected call was the catalyst to Steve’s passion for his Chevelle, “He knew that if someone didn’t start the ball rolling, the car would still be sitting, so basically, I owe this all to him.” His offer to help with a frame-off restoration was the jump start Steve needed, and together they embarked on a painstaking journey of revival.
The restoration process was not just about bringing the car back to life; it was about pushing boundaries, surpassing the original specifications, and integrating modern enhancements, all while maintaining the Chevelle’s classic allure. The build would be part restoration, with elements of restomod and pro touring tossed into the mix. To begin, the car was stripped to its frame, which was then meticulously sandblasted and powder coated.
The heart of the car — now, a 540 cubic-inch big-block engine—is a masterpiece of power, crafted by Lou Bengivenni of LRB Performancee Machine. The engine has CFE Racing heads with Jesel shaft-mounted rockers, a custom-ground Bullet Racing cam with a .710-inch lift, and a 260-degree intake/270-degree exhaust duration. There is a Jesel belt drive and a belt-driven, front-mounted MSD distributor locked at 35 degrees of timing. An MSD digital 6 box pulls timing during startup. The pistons are forged Sportsman Racing Products with moly rings. There are Eagle rods and Callie’s crank sealed up by the oil pan by Stef’s. On the dyno, the rebuilt big-block flexed its muscles, clocking an impressive 784 horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque. The Chevelle was not just restored; it was transformed into a behemoth of modern engineering, a far cry from its original state.
Steve’s attention to detail was evident throughout the car. The transmission was upgraded to a Tremec TKX 5-speed, capable of handling the engine’s horsepower and torque. The QuickTime bellhousing and a twin-disc Centerforce clutch were chosen for their reliability and performance. Even the suspension was upgraded with Detroit Speed coilovers and tubular control arms, ensuring that the car’s handling matched its vigorous heart.
The Chevelle’s aesthetics were carefully contemplated. A carbon fiber hood and trunk lid help keep weight down. The forged, two-piece wheels were made by 3030 Autosport, 18×11 in the back with 305/45-18 Nitto NT 555 R2 drag radials, and 18×9 up front, wearing 275/40-18 Nittos. The final stance will be lowered likely two inches from stock with a little rake to it. “I like the back a little higher than the front, kind of retains a little of its roots that way,” says Steve. This decision was not made lightly; it is the result of years of envisioning the perfect look that would blend this Chevelle’s historic past with its dynamic future.
Steve’s ongoing journey with his Chevelle has not been without its challenges. Every restoration project comes with its own set of trials, and Steve’s Chevelle was no exception. Currently, the process of fabricating mounting brackets for a Wilwood electronic parking brake setup and implementing a C-clip eliminator kit in the rear is proving to be difficult. Yet, these obstacles only serve to reinforce Steve’s resolve and the depth of his passion for the project.
Now, as Steve stands on the brink of completing this monumental project, the project is a testament to what can be achieved with unwavering determination and the support of friends who share your vision. The Chevelle is not quite road-ready. It awaits the final touches of paint and interior.
Currently, Steve is deciding on the color. He’s changed his mind several times, but as of this writing, he’s opting for a sleek, gloss black to highlight the car’s muscular contours. He plans on leaving the SS stripes as exposed carbon fiber for a modern touch. At this point, and after waiting so many years, most people would probably slap together a rushed interior and call it a day. However, Steve is patiently waiting for the interior to be finished to the same level as the rest of the car, opting for a complete TMI Products cockpit as funds allow.
Steve Ferro’s journey with his 1970 Chevelle SS is more than a story of automotive restoration. It is a narrative steeped in inspiration, a clear message to all who have projects in limbo: it is never too late. The final piece of this saga will be when Steve, after 36 years, finally turns the key to the ignition of his Chevelle. The roar of the engine will not just signal the culmination of the restoration; it will be the triumph of revived passion over time’s attempt to wash it away. This Chevelle, once dormant, now stands ready to take to the streets again, a Phoenix risen, a dream in steel and rubber, fully realized. And, we’d love to see it when it does!
Let’s See Your Chevy!
We love to see other enthusiast’s rides as well. It doesn’t matter where they are in the build process, if they are finished, or if you’re simply enjoying them in their current state. All we need are a few photos and some information about you and your Chevy. That said, the more information and images you submit, the more we can show (and talk about) your car to the rest of our readers.
We’re looking forward to seeing what you are doing to keep the Chevy Hardcore lifestyle alive. If you want to see more cars built and owned by our readers, send us a few pictures of your car showing the engine, interior, and exterior, along with all the pertinent information, so we can include it in our Reader’s Ride section. You can send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.