Big Al's Featured Car's
1967 Chevelle SS
Owned by Big Al
Pictures by Big Al

What a long and twisted story this car has taken me on! I have always been a Gear-Head and was the first in my group way back when to have a car. My first being a 32 Plymouth Coupe, chopped, channeled with a Z’d frame with a 48 Merc flathead that my great friend Joe Shimko had built as what we today call a Rat Rod but back then it was just a Hot Rod! Joe had built it and somehow it caught fire and I got a super deal on it. I was only 14 at the time and stored it in a friend and neighbors garage. This was Vic & Helen Colianai and all was well until my parents found out I had bought it and I had to sell it back! My first car that I owned and drove was a 1956 Buick Special. That car was a whole other story! I learned a lot about wrenching on that car from Larry Brinkly, Larrry Davis & Joe Shimko. We even painted it at my parents garage with the doors open to the house to keep the garage warm! No need to tell you what my parents had to say when they came home, I think there is still overspray in that house LOL After that I had several cars that Kenny Barbado, Jim Fuller, Ronnie Rue, Larry Allen, Bill Young and I tooled around in like my 1958 Chevy Impala Convertible with a 348 in it. That was the only car I took down a Dragstrip. That was Magnolia Airport Dragstrip and we had to wait for the planes to land and take off between runs! I also had a 1957 Chevy wagon, a 1952 Chevy and a 1963 Chevy Impala convertible that I bought from my cousin Jimmy Krivok, Afterward I had a slew of drivers like my 1970 Chevelle and 1971 El Camino, 1976 Cutlass and others. Then I married Nancy and all time and money went into buying and paying off our house. Of course adding a 2 ½  car garage, then another 1 ½ car addition and finally another 2 car garage added on to the end of that! Finally in the late 80’s I started looking for a Hot Rod again! That’s when this 1967 Chevelle SS came on the scene!

I was hanging out at Annebelles Drive in Restaurant in Mentor like we all did back in the day, Heck, we still do, and it was around 10pm and the cars were still cruising through when I spotted a black car so shiny and straight I fell in love in a heart beat! It was a 1967 Chevelle SS and it just rumbled right past me. I believe I was with Dupa aka Wally Sprafka & Vince Robison and I asked them who owned that car. They didn’t know but when we asked around we found out it belonged to a Mike Murphy. Well, it was close to a year later when I next saw the car and I flagged Mike down and asked about buying the car! Mike just laughed and said he will own the car till the end and then he shifted into 1st. and took off. Well, we all have been teased, and I knew that somehow, someday I would own that car. Damn, it was almost the end of the season when I next saw Mike and his 67 again and I stopped him a second time and gave him a paper with my name and number on it and told him to call me when he was ready to sell. He again laughed and said that most of his friends had first dipps on it if he was ever going to part with it and pulled away.

Imagine my surprise when the phone rang in the spring of following year and it was Mike. As life is, he had a problem of sorts. Mike and his wife had a baby and were living in a small place and she became pregnant. They decided a bigger home was in order and they needed to raise some money. We all know what happens next, the car has to go. Mike said he had talked to his friends and although they wanted the car, money was tight at the time. I had been saving for a moment like this and was lucky enough to make a deal with Mike. Mike really loved that car and made me promise to never chop it up and give him first chance at it if I wanted to sell it. On April 24, 1990 I finally took ownership of the car I really wanted! Mike actually stopped over once in a while to visit “our” ride! Mike has since passed but even after all these years I think about him often. After his passing, his brother once stopped just to see the car and give me an ignition wrench that Mike had used on the car! Rest in Peace Mike and Thank You for calling me that day!

The Chevelle was a real looker and I enjoyed cruising with it for a couple years and going to many shows. It was a blast to drive. It was all black with a black interior and it was a bench seat 4 speed car with a 396 cubic inch motor. It had a couple of not common items like factory disc power brakes and an AM/FM radio and the bench seat in a Super Sport! It has manual steering and when I bought it there was a spotlight mounted on the drivers side that caused my friend Donnie Edler to christen the car with the name ”Spot”. That made for a discussion of why a Muscle Car would have a spotlight on it and we didn’t know if some Good Ol Boys were spotting Coons with it or it may have served as a Police car. We may never know, but it is fun to guess the history. Going to some shows and bringing home a few Trophies made me think I should do a ground up rebuild so I could really rack up some wins!

Well, in the fall I figured I could tear it apart, do a rebuild over winter, and be back cruising with a finished show car by spring! Well, Hello real world, LOL it was two years later and my partner in doing just about everything, Ron Wilson and I were still working on the frame! Ron was a man of many talents and welding was one of them. He said that all metal will get stress cracks and we should go over the frame with a fine tooth comb and repair anything we could find.  There wasn’t much but Ron and I had a great time working on it. I sent the chrome out to be re-chromed and had some problems with the chrome people. They did a terrible job and I had to send it back 3 times. I ended up buying other pieces as I was not happy with their work. In the beginning I had sent the body and frame to a media blasting place off of Rt. 271 to be plastic and media blasted and they missed as much underneath as they got on top. The bad part was that I had taken the body off the frame and had it hanging in my garage before I noticed their sloppy workmanship. When I complained he simply said bring it back. Sure, the frame is completely dis-assembled and I ended up building a full framework to support the body in transport back to their shop. He finally did it right, but what a pain it was. Around this time I met a fellow named Denver Gatrell who lives in Berlin Center and has more Chevelle parts than anyone I know! We became friends with Chevelles in common and he had a set of NOS front fenders for my Chevelle and made me a great deal on them. Mine weren’t bad, but NOS?

Up to this point I had a few bumps in the road, but nothing like what was in store for me. My friend and neighbor Rod Henckel was a body man and painter by trade and had helped me repaint many of my cars in the past and had helped me do the under-carriage, frame and a bunch of inner panels, but said I was too fussy and did not want to paint the car itself.  The car had a very straight body and needed very little work done to it, but I wanted to get it painted and being black it had to be just right. I asked around and found a guy in Leroy who was recommended by a couple of friends. Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire. I won’t bore you with details, but I ended up suing them to get my money back for the shitty job they did and typical of the court system, I lost the case. I also lost my drive for cruising or shows and just walked away from Hot Rods for a year or so. That was around 1992 and I shoved the Chevelle in the corner of the garage for the next 20 or so years!

Fast forward to the spring of 1994 and my wife Nancy was tired of me being underfoot instead of out Cruising with Dupa, Rodney, George, Vince, Dave, Danny, Wilson, Wolff, Goodwrench, King and a whole bunch of guys and girls that loved to Cruise! She dug out my Hemmings and found a red 1967 Malibu over in Strongsville. She made a phone call and we were on the way to look at it. That is another story, but it saved my sanity and I still have it also.
This brings us up to 2010 when I discovered a new Car Club called the Vintage Street Rodders of America out of Tennessee. www.VSRA-USA.com knowing that the other club had just opened its doors to 1980 and a lot of members were not happy about it I called the President, Jim Bledsoe, to see what his club is all about. Next thing I know, I’m one of the Ohio Reps and putting on a show at the Medina Fairgrounds. I tell you this so you will understand what happened next. I want to get a Street Rod, so to get money and space something has to go and I'm sorry to say that this Beautiful Special Chevelle has to go! If you are interested, give Big Al a call at 440-352-4990. Because of the economy, I'm only asking for $ 59,900.00, not the appraised $ 75,000.00

A lot of the guys around here have had work done on their cars at a place called Cruizin Dreams in Mentor and having seen their work I was impressed! The owner Garry McClung along with his wife Pam and Shawn Kelly turn out an amazing lot of quality work and so I drug Spot out of the corner, put it on Joe Rice’s of Metro Fleets slide-back and along with 4 pick-up trucks worth of parts dropped it all off to see what they could do. The first thing that happens is it goes down to bare metal to see what is hiding under there. Next comes a lot of blocking and then the paint. That’s as much as I know about body work. But the real genius of their skills was putting all those boxes of parts together and making it all work. I had completely disassembled every nut, bolt and screw on that car 20 years ago including the wiring, windows, brakes, drive-train and anything else I could take apart for cleaning or polishing. When I had bought the Chevelle, Mike had told me that they had spun a bearing not long after he acquired it and replaced the engine with a different 396. My thoughts are that if you have the wrong engine, go for some gusto and had a 454 motor that I had pulled out of the “Devil Wagon” from Don Edler. I had used it in my red Chevelle for a season but had it completely rebuilt and put in the Chevelle for some “GO” power. Shawn ran the numbers and it turned ot to be a 1990 454 with 4 bolt mains and had been factory remanufactured in 2004 and had 30 over pistons added. That along with a Muncie rebuilt by “Mr. Good Wrench” and a 4:11 positraction rear-end should give it a little launching torque. The brake cylinders were a little weepy so Garry & Shawn rebuilt all 4 corners and the booster had been rebuilt and iodized to look like it did when new along with a new master cylinder should give it all the stopping power it needs. Have any of you bought red lines lately? Wholly Crap, $241.00 plus tax, plus shipping for each of them! That’s around $1,400 to $1,500 just for rubber! Did I mention earlier that I am lucky to have some outstanding friends? Frank and Dick Faronni were at the Blue Suede Cruise a week or so ago and found a set of 5 new Red Lines mounted on new Rally wheels with beauty rings and caps at a real bargain. When they called and asked if I wanted them, the answer was yes. The fellow who bought them had put them on his car and took them right off to put on a set of custom rims and it was the end of the day and who wants to carry 5 tires home?

Cruizin Dreams did a fantastic job of putting everything back together. I have to hand it to them to have the patience needed to put back together a complete basket case. The original tachometer is in place with the turn signal in it, the gauge pack works like it did 45 years ago, the speed minder will buzz you if you go over the pre-set speed, the rear defroster blows and the stereo AM/FM radio plays some sweet sounds.
Some people take forever to finish what they start. Dupa pulled the glass out of the Chevelle over 20 years ago and he put the glass back in a week or two ago. LOL

When I got in it to drive it home I was actually felt a little apprehensive about driving it. I quickly realized why, in my other Chevelle I moved the seat back 3 inches and put a small steering wheel in it. The manual steering calls for a big wheel and they don’t call me “Big Al” for nothing!