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~ From the SAE Article Written By Mike Felix ~
 
The photos and text here are from the article "Project Chevelle" which appeared in the February, 1991 issue of SAE (#71). Enormously popular, this was the project that really put the Town of Newburgh Model Car Club "on the map". Special thanks to Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine for allowing us to reproduce most of the original article here.
 

Every automobile has its own story. From the time it's bought brand new to the day it's laid to rest in the junkyard, each car lives its own life. To apply this concept to modeling, the members of the Town of Newburgh Model Car Club put together the fictional story of Art's Chevelle. Art's car was typical in that it had many uses and several owners during its life. As the story unfolds, a model has been built to illustrate how the car looked during that part of the story.

The models shown here were built by eleven different members of the club. Before you say that no club could get eleven different guys to agree on the same kit - let alone build it in a coordinated way - think again. We did manage to work together on this project and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Now on with the story.

In the fall of 1966 our hero, Art, took the day off from his job at the mill so he could go to the local Chevy dealer to take delivery of his first new car. The 1967 Chevelle SS 396 was sitting in the parking lot waiting for Art to fire it up. Art loved the red paint, the matching red stripe tires and the new car smell of the interior. The monthly payments of $76.51 for three years all seemed worth it when Art started the engine and ripped out of the dealer's lot for his first drive in his new pride and joy.

Chuck Stark modeled Art's showroom stock Super Sport using Revell's '67 Chevelle kit. With '67 Chevrolet literature to guide him, Chuck accurately detailed the kit inside and out. The flawless execution of fit and finish help accentuate Chuck's detailing, which includes door locks, tire valve stems, dash instrumentation and engine wiring completed in the correct firing order.
In 1968, Art let his daughter, Madge, use the car to go back and forth to work. Madge loved to get those red stripe Tiger Paws screeching through the turns. On one of her trips, she misjudged her speed around a curve and ended up nestling the Chevelle among some trees. Art didn't really buy Madge's story about swerving to miss a deer, but he was happy she got through the accident in one piece - which is more than can be said of the Chevelle.
Ron Weissinger's challenge was to depict Art's Chevelle in this damaged condition. Ron's hard work paid off as his wreck looks "right" and attracts lots of attention at model shows. Ron attributes the authentic bent metal look to patient work with the body pieces over a candle and layering of the finish coats of paint over primer. The headlight and parking light detail and antifreeze in the engine compartment add to the realism.
The insurance company told Art to have the car repaired because the damage wasn't extensive enough to "total" it. Art chose his old high school buddy, Red, to do the body work because of Red's reputation for quality. Red promised he would repair the car as good as new in three to four weeks. With the promise of good work and reasonable repair time, Art had the damaged Chevelle towed to Red's shop.
Mike Callan's model represents a “work in progress" version of the Chevelle as it would appear during Red's repair process. Mike used his own body shop experience to help him fabricate the many body parts necessary to make a convincing “body under repair”. The windshield frame, door frame work and transmission are all especially noteworthy.
Six weeks later, Art still hadn't heard from Red. Art and Madge decided it was time to visit Red's shop, so they borrowed their neighbor's Valiant for the trip. When they arrived at the shop, they were pleased to see the fine job Red had done so far, but were disappointed with the amount of time it was taking.
Don Betterdon has captured the first glimpse of the Chevelle for Art and Madge since they saw it on the hook headed for the shop. Note how Don masked the body so we see the proper parts still in primer. Can you notice which parts have yet to be added to the almost finished Chevelle? Missing are the headlight, chrome hood vents, fender emblem, and the chrome strip across the hood.
By 1972, Madge's accident and the length of time it took Red to repair the damage were long forgotten. Art's Chevelle was now the family beater with more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. It had served the family faithfully for years, ferrying the kids around town and taking them on vacation trips to the Jersey shore and Vermont ski slopes. Art tried his best to fix the miscellaneous things that needed repair himself. Let's face it, the Chevelle was no longer a mean machine.
Ken Uhler has masterfully transformed the pristine kit into an older family car. Interior details include worn seats, litter, door locks, magazines, a coffee cup and so on. The more obvious exterior details include a coat hanger antenna, patched rear quarter window and taillight lens, weathering and snow tires. The rust, which comes from the salt used on the roads during New York winters, is real rust. Ken ground up rust from full-size auto parts to get a fine powder which he then applied to the body. The engine and undercarriage were weathered to match.
A couple of years later, Art Jr. was ready to graduate from high school with the class of '74. He'd been bugging his dad to take the old Chevelle off his hands, and Art figured it was finally time to pass it on to his son. But there was a catch! Art Jr. would have to agree to fix up the old family car. That was all the teenager needed to hear. With his savings, graduation money and a summer of work, Art Jr. transformed the Chevelle into a boulevard cruiser.
Vince Lobosco has captured the essence of Art Jr.'s car. Oversized rear tires, window and rear bumper stickers, a tassle hanging from the rearview mirror and a modified exhaust system are some of the elements Vince used to create the rejuvenated Chevelle. He even painted the gas tank and rear suspension parts white as many young motorheads of the '70s did.
With all of the hoopla surrounding the Bicentennial celebrations, Art Jr. decided he would celebrate by getting a new car. After being in the classifieds for only a short while, the Chevelle was sold to Ernie, a local plumber. Ernie liked drag racing, so with some extra cash and some spare time, he transformed the Chevelle from a cruiser into a quarter-miler.
Ron Washburn has successfully created a low budget drag car of the mid-'70s. Particular attention was given to the suspension and engine parts to ensure they were available at that time. All the drag goodies are there: high rise manifold, dual four-barrel carbs, headers, tach, safety netting, and all the appropriate wiring.
Ernie wasn't very successful at the drags, nor was he successful at his plumbing business for that matter. So he joined the Army to get his life straightened out. Art Jr. got wind of this and made a deal with Ernie to buy back the Chevelle. Having been brought up within shouting distance of the Orange County Fair Speedway, Art Jr. figured getting the old car back would present him with the opportunity to try his hand at dirt track racing. After all, he had spent most of his teenage Saturday nights cheering on his heroes at the track. With the help of some torches, tools and local mechanics, Art Jr. was ready to go racing in the dirt.
John Stachura modeled his Chevelle to represent Art Jr.'s dirt track racer and significantly altered the basic kit. He began by removing the fuel tank and replacing it with a fuel cell. The frame and suspension were strengthened using plastic tubing to make a full roll cage and a sub frame while the body had all trim and accessories removed, the wheel openings radiused and side rub rails added. John also detailed the engine and created a new paint scheme.
Although racing looked easy from the grandstand, Art Jr. found it's very different behind the wheel. Victories never materialized. Feeling the pressure of campaigning a non-competitive car on weekends, Art Jr. gave up on racing. At about this time Grandpa said he needed something to drive around the farm. It seemed like a match, so Art Jr. stripped the Chevelle of its racing gear and gave the car to Grandpa. Since Grandpa was on a low budget, he had to improvise to get the car running.
It was my job to model Grandpa's car with that in mind. I included items like a gravity feed gas tank to replace the fuel cell and an old toilet bowl in place of the competition seat. The suspension was modified to reflect the strain of the loads Grandpa carried. The body was dented, scraped, weathered and twisted on the frame to illustrate years of abuse on the farm. And to top it all off, what farm vehicle would be complete without a healthy dose of mud?!
In 1984, Grandpa decided to give the Chevelle to old man Millard because he just couldn't carry enough stuff in it. Millard used it for a year or so until the engine quit. Then he rolled it over and began to cannibalize it.
Dick Schoonmaker had the difficult task of modeling the Chevelle in its final resting place. He had to duplicate the modifications of the previous two cars for his version of old man Millard's Chevelle to look convincing. Dick damaged the body even further and fashioned a very convincing gutted engine compartment. Check out that hand carved bird and nest!
Sometime during 1986 Art decided to clean out the garage and get rid of all those old car parts Art Jr. had left behind. Selling them at a flea market seemed like a good way to get some extra cash.
Rick Hanmore's challenge was to determine what parts, if any, would possibly be left over from the original Chevelle. After discussions with the other modelers involved in the project, Rick got an idea of what parts could be used. He made sure they were appropriately weathered and worn and displayed them along with Art in a mini diorama.
And there you have it - the complete history of Art's '67 Chevelle.

"Project Chevelle" debuted at NNL East in Clifton, New Jersey on March 24, 1990. Pride was the emotion that sparked in all of us as we stood by our display and heard others admire our collective work. The sharing of technique, teamwork and a feeling of accomplishment have brought a higher sense of pride and identity to our club and its members.

 

Photos and text used with permission of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine.

 

Update: May, 2007 - Project Chevelle was honored with an invitation to take up permanent residence at the International Model Car Builders Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Stop in and check out the exhibit if you're in town !

 

 

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