For this month’s Feature Car we met with Gascc Club Chairman John McCarthy, and although John has a few American Cars it’s his 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS that caught our attention. The Chevelle was manufactured between 1963 and 1977 and was launched in 1964 it became one of GM's successful nameplates. Chevelle models included Sedans, Station Wagons, Coupes and Convertibles, as well as several performance models. The Malibu, at first the top level in the Chevelle line, replaced the Chevelle name entirely after 1977. The Chevelle chassis provided the platform for the Monte Carlo in 1970.
A utility pick-up, the “El Camino”, was part of the line up and depending on the year, and has been available in 300, 300 Deluxe. The El Camino, and its GMC counterpart, outlived the passenger car versions until their demise after the 1987 model year.
Chevy looked to the new Chevelle with its famous Super-Sport model to project the look of performance as well as actually having the horses under the hood. The performance image of the tough looking machine was certainly there with such options as the tachometer, sports steering wheel, chrome trim items and gauges. In the 60’s horsepower was the big trend with the likes of the 389 tri-carbed Pontiac GTO, the 400-cubic-inch Buick Gran Sport, the 390ci Ford Fairlane and of course the 426 Hemi Plymouths and Dodges. In 1965 a performance explosion took place with the 396 SS. The top Chevelle model for ’66 featured simulated hood intakes, vinyl interiors, SS script lettering on the rear quarters and SS 396 emblems. A complete body update took place in the 1968 model; new appearance features included extensions on the lower body mouldings, tail light panels and a completely re-designed dash. The new SS was a real looker and a great seller.
This brings us up to our Feature Car year 1969. Slight appearance changes were made to the ’69 model. The tail lights were much larger and more rectangular in shape giving the rear end a completely new image. The rear fastback design flowed cleanly with a slight angle change at the base of the rear window to meet the new rear end lighting. The quad head lights were still encased in their own bezels, but the grill was now blacked out with a horizontal bar dissecting it lengthwise. The ultimate performance Chevelle of ’69 might have been the least known 427 COPO model.
John McCarthy is a well known and respected member of the American Car family in Ireland. John has had a great love of American cars since he first saw a Corvette on holidays in the UK in the early 80’s. In September 2004 John saw his dream come true when he imported his 1980 Corvette from Arizona. Not even 12 months had passed when John had added to his collection by purchasing another Corvette (1978). At this stage John was deeply involved in the American Car scene in Ireland and was regularly attending shows with his Vette. John found the two seater Corvette very restricting as he liked to attend the shows with his family. This forced John to go shopping for another American Muscle Car.
After a long search he found his ideal car at Conte’s Corvettes (a family run business specializing in Corvettes and Chevy’s for over 30 years), in New Jersey in March 2007. After numerous phone conversations and emails John purchased his 1969 Chevelle SS. Conte’s Corvettes organised the shipping which was roll on roll off at a cost of €1750.00, six weeks after the car was ordered it arrived in Tivoli Docks. John was on holidays in the USA when the car landed so a friend collected the car and brought it to John’s house ready for him when he arrived home. John recalls his first time driving the car and was amazed at the difference in power between his 2 Corvettes and this big block Chevelle.
12 months after John had the car he decided to make a few upgrades which turned into a full restoration. The following upgrades were made to the car:
• Holley Street Avenger 770cfm carburetor
• Rear anti-Roll bar and boxed control arms
• Comp Cams extreme energy camshaft and lifters
• Comp Cams double roller billet timing chain and gear kit
• Full engine dress-up kit
• New carpet and door panels
• Rebuilt gear box
• New chrome front and rear bumper
• All new badges and trims
• New Le-mans blue paint
• New set of Boyd Coddington Smoothie 1 wheels
She has a 1972 400ci (~6.6L) Big Block v8, 4-speed Muncie manual transmission, a 3.73:1 ratio 12 bolt Limited Slip differential, Hurst shifter kit, Hooker competition long tube headers, Flowmaster exhaust and polished 15” aluminium Smoothie 1 wheels wrapped in Hercules HP 4000, 255/60R15. John has plans to do a few more minor upgrades including fitting a new custom stainless steel exhaust system and custom dashboard. John thinks the nicest feature on the car is its pillar-less doors.
All of which makes John McCarthy’s 1969 Chevelle SS one of the cleanest most desirable muscle cars in the country. Surely John’s next project will have to be building the cabinet to store the trophies that this car will win.