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1965 Chevy Chevelle Malibu - Mini Mac Malibu, Part 1

A 14-Year-Old Car Crafter's Resto Effort

By McClelland Daniel, Photography by Kevin McClelland

I am a third-generation musclecar gearhead. My grandfather Dave, (I call him Pops), is a drag race announcer, host of Hot Rod TV, and a drag racer. My dad, Kevin, is a three-time NHRA Super Gas National Event winner and does research and development for Flowmaster. I was born in Glendale, California, and lived just down the street from my grandparents, Louise and Dave, until we moved to Rohnert Park in northern California when I was 3 years old. Racing and going fast has been in my blood since I was born.

For as long as I can remember, I have been watching racing and helping work on cars with my dad. My mom Lisa, sister Ashley, and I used to go to the racetrack in Palmdale, California, and watch my dad bracket race his '68 Camaro. Between races, I would help him work on his '57 Chevy Bel Air Super Gas car in the garage.

After we moved to northern California, my dad sold his Camaro and I helped him work on his '57 to learn as much as I could. To this day I drive him crazy with all of my questions. I remember the day that my dad finally started the '57. I was 6 years old. It was so exciting because this would be the first time that I would see my dad in his '57 Chevy. My family all stood to the side of the driveway while we watched it fire for the first time in 11 years. I have tons of memories from Bakersfield, Pomona, Palmdale, and of course Sears Point, our new home track.

Three years ago, for my 11th birthday, my parents bought me a one-day pass to Terry Ive's go-cart driving school in Prairie City. I was caught hook, line, and sinker. Not knowing there was any difference in the carts, I chose the only cart that fit me. It turned out it was a "cadet cart" with an 80cc instead of a 125cc engine. Even though my cart was slower, I was still faster than everyone out there.

All of the race cars in our family are named "Tuna Tank." I started out by adding my cart to the list of Pop's Fiat, my dad's '57, my dad's friend Tim Moore's roadster (which my dad drove to three NHRA National Event wins), and now my dad's own roadster which is "Tuna Tank 4." I started with Tuna 5, raced that for a year and a half, got a newer and better Tuna Tank 6 and raced that for a year, and now I've added "Tuna Tank 8." Between 6 and 8, my dad got an '80 Malibu wagon to turn into an NHRA Stock Eliminator race car that took the number 7 spot.

All this is background to my newest project. I have wanted to rebuild a musclecar since I was very little. I grew up riding around in my car seat in my dad's '67 Camaro and '65 El Camino. After my 14th birthday, I got the great idea that dad and I should build a car together. I never imagined it would be mine. I spent weeks of my time after school and homework searching for the perfect car. I found a '71 Camaro in Los Angeles near Pop's shop. Pops and Tim went to look at it, but it turned out to be way too rough. Tim knew someone who had a '65 Chevelle Malibu for sale and we bought it for $4,200. At first that seemed like a lot of money, but at a car auction in L.A., Pops saw a '65 Malibu that wasn't as nice go for 5 grand. My car is all original with a straight-six engine, Powerglide automatic, and a 10-bolt rearend.

By McClelland Daniel
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