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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 have set several goals for this car. By the time I get my learner's permit to drive, I want to be able to learn in my own car. I would like to show by doing these articles that there really are teenagers out there who still prefer American musclecars. My friends drool over the import cars. I have even been told by my friends "Musclecars suck! Why do you like them so much?" That really ruined my day. I have a friend who could get his dad's fully restored '69 Mach 1 Mustang. I'm not a Ford guy, but still it was a very nice car. Instead, he would rather have a BMW. His reasoning was that "I'd rather have a high-performance vehicle than some old car!" That also ruined my day. I could not explain to him that his dad's Mach 1 is a high-performance car. I have pretty much given up trying to alter my friends' views until my car is done and I have some material proof of musclecars' greatness.

My first goal is that starting on November 22, 2004, my 15th birthday, the car will be far enough along that I can drive my mom to school in it every day, and then drive home. When I am 16, in 2006, I will be the first in line to get my license. I will be two months into my junior year at high school and will have driven most every day of the past year. I would like the car completely finished when I have my license.

My goal with the Chevelle is to build a daily driver that looks and performs great. The first thing that we need to do is to finish tightening everything and change the transmission crossmember. Somewhere along the line, the original crossmember disappeared and the replacement is not right for the car. On acceleration and deceleration, the driveshaft lifts up and starts to bang against the floor. It hits hard enough that after our first 5-mile drive to lunch, we decided to park the car until we can replace it with a stock crossmember.

The biggest obstacle is earning money to put into the car. I am babysitting, cleaning my uncle's shop on Saturday mornings, and doing chores at home. I am collecting parts and pieces any way I can. I plan to change the 230ci straight-six engine over to an L98 TPI 350 small-block. It is an electronically fuel-injected small-block out of an '89 Chevrolet Corvette. It isn't the highest-horsepower engine out there, but it is plenty for a driver. Maybe later I will put a big-block or a bigger small-block in it. I am going to swap the transmission over from the stock Powerglide to a TH400 transmission out of Pop's '55 Del Ray. This is an awesome Darrel Young-built transmission with a B&M 11-inch converter that will take anything that I put in front of it.

I also need to rebuild the suspension to make it safer. The stock suspension is actually in pretty decent shape. I'm getting the 11-inch power disc brakes off of Pop's Buick Skylark because he is putting on 12-inch Baer brakes. They're the same brakes that my dad has on his 430hp '65 El Camino. I also want to put a 12-bolt in the car. If we cannot find an affordable '65-'67 12-bolt (if there is such a thing anymore), we have a couple of other options. The later '68-'72 12-bolt Chevelle rearends are more readily available. They are cheaper once you find one, and we could shorten it or have custom wheels made to fit the car properly.

For Christmas last year, my big present from Grandma Lu and Pops was a Custom Auto Sound stereo system, made especially to fit the stock dash. It includes an AM/FM cassette deck with a 10-disc CD-changer for the trunk. It also includes a pair of small speakers to fit in the front with two 6x9-inch speakers for the rear. We don't want to install the stereo until after we find an alarm system.

By McClelland Daniel
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