Grayscale: This Custom '69 Chevelle Is Absolutely Stunning
The killer, LT4-powered A-body is the crown of Bill Dickinson's collection.
Every gearhead has dreams of the ultimate collection they'd assemble given the financial wherewithal to do so. Whether it's an assortment of Italian exotics or muscle cars or a combination of the two, or even something else altogether, those dreams persist. In the enthusiast's amygdala—the part of the brain involved with the experience of emotions—lives, unclouded by a lack of funds, time, or skill, the perfect assemblage of automotive excellence. It's chosen, dismantled, examined from every angle, and reconstructed, much like a restoration or restomod when it goes under the knife.
In Bill Dickinson's case, the financial resources are available to indulge his imagination, and the car you see here is the pinnacle of such. The amazing 1969 Chevelle was designed and assembled by Randy Clark, Jeremy Shelton, and the team at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff (HRCS), located in the City of Hidden Treasure otherwise known as Escondido, California.
"I started collecting cars over 20 years ago, and my goal was to start a collection that everyone wanted back when I was growing up. My dream has come true, as I have in my opinion one of the best trios a guy would want to own: a 1953 Chevy 3100 five-window pickup, a 1957 Bel Air two-door hardtop, and now this 1969 Chevelle," says Dickinson. The stimulus for building this car is the memory of the 1969 Chevelle he cruised around while in high school. In his words, "one of the coolest cars to have back in the day."
It's still a cool car today, but Bill's take on the perfect Chevelle makes a sharp right turn in the interest of performance and—dare we say—practicality, in the form of a supercharged LT4 engine between the shock towers. Bill arrived at the powerplant choice after careful consideration of his intentions for the Chevelle upon completion. "Who can match General Motors' billion-dollar research and development of a reliable, plug-and-play 650-horse small-block? It was a no-brainer!" he exclaims. The engine wears a set of custom 1.750-inch full-length headers manufactured by RPM Exhaust of Oceanside, California, who also set the 3.0-inch exhaust pipes and Flowmaster mufflers into position.
Back in 1969, when this Chevelle was first manufactured, the state-of-the-art Muncie four-speed Rock Crusher transmission was the hot ticket, but today, that statement couldn't be further from the truth. In keeping with the modern driveline theme, a TREMEC Super Magnum six-speed transmission was installed behind the supercharged powerplant. Not only does it serve the purpose of giving Bill the opportunity to row the gears, he says it also works perfectly as an anti-theft device.
Over the last several years, we've seen extensive use of chassis packages from Roadster Shop. Phil Gerber and his guys out there have done a superior job of engineering their complete systems to offer the car builder and end user a complete, bolt-in system that excels on the street and at the track. It was an easy choice for Bill and the HRCS team to choose one of these to underpin the Chevelle's sheetmetal.
By using Roadster Shop's complete rolling chassis system, HRCS was able to shelve the factory four-link, coil spring, and trailing arm suspension in favor of a high-tech Ford 9-inch-based independent rear suspension configuration filled with 3.70:1 gears. The modern handling capabilities—and perhaps more important, the ride quality—imbued by this IRS system gives the Chevelle a completely different attitude compared to what it left the factory with 50 years ago.
In conjunction with the chassis, a complete set of Brembo brakes were selected for use, with 14.0-inch front rotors and 13.0-inch rear rotors offering plenty of stopping capabilities for the high-powered drivetrain. The 1969 Chevelle's original 14-inch-diameter wheel-and-tire package is a far cry—both in appearance and performance—from the 19x9 front and 20x12 rear Budnik Tungsten SKO wheels and 245/35R19 and 335/30R20 Michelin Pilot tires that currently take up residence in the fender wells. All of these choices were made with one prevailing thought: "I wanted a car with a lot of horsepower to be safe, and to handle and stop like many other newer high-performance cars on the road today," Bill explains.
Jeremy Shelton at HRCS worked closely with Bill to bring together their shared vision of what the second-generation Chevelle should have been, and to that end spent a lot of time on the body modifications and other appearance items, leaving no section of the body and interior untouched. Although they've modified just about every part of this car in their quest, the styling remains clean and understated, without gaudy look-at-me items to detract from its overall appearance.
The drip rails have been shaved to clean up the roofline. Front and rear diffusers, along with side skirts, were manufactured at HRCS, and the trunk floor has been raised. The hood, although originally from General Motors, has been modified to incorporate a set of Goolsby Customs vents, and the stock wheel tubs have been sectioned to include an extra four inches of steel to house the monster rear tires.
Electric door handles are in place, while billet mirrors, billet taillight surrounds, and bumper-exit exhaust tips putting the finishing touches on the car's stunning exterior. But it wouldn't be complete without the sheetmetal-taming talents of the entire HRCS team, culminating in the application of several coats of Metallic Black PPG pigment by painter Andy Meeh, whose flawless work is on display everywhere you look.
Much attention has also been paid in the cabin, with all sorts of unique pieces designed to set the car's appearance apart from the crowd by noted interior specialist Ron Mangus of Ron Mangus Hot Rod Interiors in Rialto, California. A billet aluminum gauge cluster from EVOD Industries surrounds a set of Dakota Digital gauges and meshes well with the trick billet HVAC vents directing air from a Vintage Air SureFit climate-control system.
Billet window switches and shifter surround accent the black leather-covered console, and a billet-center Budnik steering wheel. A set of—gasp!—'89 Mustang seats have been totally refinished and now look like anything but the original tweed-finished pieces. The same black leather that covers the console completes the front and rear seating areas. Mangus finished the upholstery with a thick black carpet, and ultimately provided Bill with a perfect view from the driver's seat.
By the project's completion, Bill Dickinson received the Chevelle of his dreams. It's built to his specifications and has become the vehicle version of a crowning achievement. "I want to personally thank Jeremy, Randy, and all the guys at HRCS for their flawless workmanship and for working as a team to build an amazing car and to have met all the challenges head-on. This was a big deal for me and HRCS made it very rewarding," he says.
Photos by Eric Geisert. This story originally appeared on HOT ROD.