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1970 Chevrolet Chevelle - Cheap Street Chevelle, Part I

Your Low-Buck, Step-By-Step Guide To A Street Machine Buildup

Photography by John Kiewicz

In a perfect world we would all earn loads of money, have plenty of time off, and (of course) drive awesome, tire-shredding street machines. Our world isn't perfect, though, and we usually have to compromise somewhere.

As a dedicated car crafter, you really want a cool cruiser, but the time and money you need aren't always available. To make matters worse, chances are the car you're trying to transform can't sit in the garage all week--it needs to be reliable, since it will probably serve double-duty as daily driver and weekend warrior. What you need is an easy-to-do, low-cost, one-step-at-a-time, month-by-month street buildup. What you need is Car Craft's Cheap Street Chevelle.

CC's goal with this project is to show readers how to build a fairly nice, fairly quick street machine spending as little money as possible. The key to the project is that you will be doing nearly all of the work yourself using common parts from swap meets, newspaper ads, mail-order parts distributors, and your local speed shop. There will be no blowers, no one-off billet wheels, and no radical space-age materials. What there will be is loads of tech info, and track testing. If you don't drive a Chevelle, follow along each month anyway, because 99 percent of all upgrades can be applied to any street machine.

Thumbing through a local Auto Trader generated interesting results. We found a lot of one-owner "jewels" that more closely resembled a piece of Swiss cheese. We did, however, find a '70 Chevelle that had been sitting (hadn't been running) since 1986. The car was far from perfect, but it did have good baseline options such as a 350 V8, front disc brakes, and a 12-bolt (non-Posi) rearend. The owner was looking for around $2000, but since it would only run for 15 seconds at a time, we talked him down to $1500.

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