Charles McClendon '71 Chevelle
Just One More
Either the last car in the collection, or the latest
Charles McClendon is living his best life these days, amassing a small collection of his favorite classic cars. Before you turn green with envy, note that Charles put his bowtie toys on hold to raise his family and get his life in order. However, once the business was cruising along safely and the kids were doing the same, his focus again turned to V8-powered dreams.
As a follow-up to his ’59 Vette and ’57 Bel Air, Charles searched for a ’70-72 Chevelle to satisfy his muscle car itch, and finally found this bright red stunner complete with a 454 and Tremec TKO five speed. The Ferrari paint was in excellent shape, so Stefan and the boys at Safe and Sound got to work cleaning up a few issues and naturally, making a couple upgrades along the way.
First on the list was a Showstopper Hydroboost system from CPP to compensate for the lack of low-speed vacuum from the rat motor. Next, Sanderson headers improved ground clearance over the original pipes. Making the engine bay look the part, a March Ultra Drive system was installed along with an Edelbrock water pump, March air cleaner and a few other goodies. A smooth fire wall and various close-out panels were fabricated and sprayed Rosso Corsa to match the exterior.
Underneath, Charles and Stefan threw the entire Global West catalog at the Chevelle; drop spindles, sway bars, control arms do work with the Wilwood 13” rotors, Borgeson quick-ratio steering box and Viking coilovers. The suspension upgrades demanded new wheels, so 18” Ramblers from US Mags were wrapped in Michelin Super Sport tires.
Inside, things are no less impressive. Our favorite feature is nestled within the stock dashboard. A direct-fit HDX instrument system with the silver alloy face styling bridges the gap between stock and aftermarket while keeping Charles informed of the big block activities. Currently programmed to white lighting with red needles, on a whim everything can be illuminated in red to match the paint, or blue, or green, or pink or…..The backlighting is adjustable, how about that? Further upgrades include an OEM-appearing Vintage Air controller and a Pioneer AVH-3300 in dash receiver linked to a 1,000-watt JL Audio amp powering JBL speakers and JL 10” subs.
On the floor we find charcoal square-weave carpet underneath factory ivory Super Sport seats. Stuffed between the buckets is a custom center console that holds the backup camera screen. Black leather with white top stitching provides contrast to the seats and helps the console blend in. Much like the engine bay, custom close out panels are installed throughout to clean up the appearance and attract your eye to the most beautiful areas of the interior. The finishing touch inside is the Flaming River steering wheel.
Charles admits it took some convincing of Mrs. McClendon to buy the Chevelle in the beginning. His ace in the hole was the fact that their son Nick already had a killer, black ’70 with a gnarly LSX pumping out about 700hp. While Dad hasn’t copped to any power numbers, it’s safe to say there’s been more than a few time trials between the generations. You just can’t ignore a big block.