Car: 1970 Chevelle SS
My Chevelle story begins in early 1969 when I started to dream about owning one of the good looking Chevelles that I would see in the showroom of our local GM dealer, Jack Harris Chev/Olds. I began making regular Saturday morning visits to the dealership to admire and sit in the new Chevelles. The particular ’69 that caught my eye was one painted in Hugger Orange. That was the colour for me!! I knew that one day I would order a Hugger Orange big block Chevelle.
When the 70’s were introduced in late September ’69 I was immediately down to the dealership to see them. My regular Saturday morning visits to the showroom had caught the attention of a salesman and also Tom Harris, the salesmanager and today the owner of the dealership (Tom Harris Chevrolet). There were a few big block cars available, however, I wasn’t quite ready to buy one. I was waiting to see a Hugger Orange one in the showroom. Both the salesman and salesmanger tried to persuade into a big block Chevelle in the showroom. I said no, but indicated that I was ready to make a deal by ordering my very own Chevelle, optioned the way I wanted.
In October of 1970, at nineteen years of age and making $3.00 an hour I signed a purchase order for a ’70 Chevelle, with 36 options and naturally in Hugger Orange. I placed a $200.00 deposit on the order and after much haggling was left with a bill of $4445.00. The price included a $1000.00 discount. I guess they were getting tired of me visiting their showroom every Saturday! My parents were less than impressed with my decision. As an aside, I managed to pay off the Chevelle in two years.
It wasn’t long after I placed the order that I was told that I could not have my Chevelle in Hugger Orange. Needless to say I wasn’t impressed and was about to cancel the deal. The dealership finally came back with a positive response from GM, however, the special paint (Hugger Orange was not available in ’70) was going to cost me an additional $220.00. After more haggling the $98.00 instrument package was deleted and the dealership covered the remainder. Until the day the Chevelle arrived at Jack Harris Chevy in early February of ’70, I wasn’t a 100% positive it would arrive in Hugger Orange. When I received the phone call that my car had arrived the first comment by me was “is it orange?” The paint code on the cowl tag and chalked on the firewall was SP 4644!
For the first four years the car was my daily driver. It was never in my plans in those early days to keep the Chevelle, however, in 1974 with 33,457 miles on the odometer I put the SS away when I got a job in a logging camp and bought a pickup for my transportation. The Chevelle was not driven much over the next 10 years and in 1985 with kids on the way I put the car in storage.
During the first four years I made some changes to the Chevelle, however, I kept every nut, bolt and part that I removed. Hooker headers, Holly 780 carb and Edelbrock intake were added during the first few months. They definitely made the SS a real road warrior around Nanaimo! A year later taller coil springs, air shocks and Cragar SS mags with Mickey Thompson Indy tires were added. The original wheels and coil springs now hang on the back wall of my garage. During this time I also removed the induction system because it would only work when I was going “flat-out”. The original 3.31 gears were replaced with 4.11’s. I also added, the rage of the day, an after market Craig eight-track that still pounds out the tunes on the eight track tapes I have saved.
About 10 years ago my boys started to bug me regarding the orange car covered up in the garage. With their “push” I decided it was time for the SS to once again to see the light of day. I had a friend do some engine work before the wheels hit the asphalt. Keith Black pistons and cam were installed and the water pump replaced. (yes, I kept all the original parts including the water pump) The original paint was polished and the complete original interior detailed (replaced the cracked glove box door) before the car was once again cruisin’ the streets.
Today people ask me “how long did it take for me to restore the car?”. I just tell them “almost 35 years”. The SS is now considered part of the family and my plans are to give it to my sons one day. The Chevelle still has less than 50,000 miles on it so when I see Tom Harris, I tell him that the car is still under warranty. His response, “I’ll take the car and give you a full refund!”