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Blueprint for Success – 1967 Chev Chevelle

12 June 2024

There’s no such thing as the perfect formula to building a tough car, but we’d say Tom Hocking has got pretty damn close!

Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Glen McNamara

There’s an old saying that if it was easy, everyone would do it. Although that may be partially true, not everyone has the vision or desire to build a cool old car. After all, it takes a bit of dedication and a whole lot of disregard for sound financial decisions to dive into the car world, and that’s without the heartache that happens when things go wrong. Tom Hocking got the big drama of his build out of the way right at the beginning though, buying a car that needed way too much work to get on the road. That unwelcomed and expensive surprise wasn’t with the car you see here though, this is more of the rebound car he quickly fell in love with when his Chev 3100 dream went bad. 

The break-up with the 3100 happened just before Tom hit the road to check out Repco Beach Hop in 2019. While there, he got chatting to a mate’s old man, who just happened to have a ‘67 Chevelle. The more Tom looked at the car, the more he liked it, and the more questions he began to ask the owner. Tom tells us, “He told me I should buy his mate’s ’67 Chevelle that had just been imported. So off I went and gave him a call. He had promised another guy the first look, so I had to wait a few days and give him a call back. The other guy had never gotten back to him, so he told me if I wanted it, it was all mine.” The story that started with despair ended up with him buying the car right there and then and being on the road right away.

The car was everything it was meant to be, and Tom was happy for the next few years, just tinkering away on bits and pieces as he desired. With a 454 up front and a 4-speed at his fingertips, life was good… although he had a niggling feeling that a 5-speed would make it even better. He knew the right people to make the change to a TKO 5-speed a painless one, and before long was cruising again, this time with the 5-speed, and for added fun he made a few tweaks to the motor. Without rebuilding it entirely, or throwing cubic dollars at it, the most that could be extracted was 400hp, which left Tom somewhat underwhelmed. When discussing the idea of adding forced induction to it with Matt from Pariah Custom Werks, Matt said he knew someone who would be happy to take the 454 off his hands if he wanted to replace it entirely. That suggestion threw a curveball into the mix, as replacing the motor completely meant he could go for any potential combo he liked… within reason of course.

Having scrolled countless pages of the internet, all recommendations kept coming back to BluePrint Engines and their catalogue of various big block offerings. Tom was of the mindset that if you’re buying a brand-new motor, you may as well go big… he skipped past another 454, even skipping past a 572, going all the way to the top with a 632ci offering. If you like your engines measured in measuring cups, that’s some 10.3 litres… 

Matt from Pariah was on hand for the installation, as he should have been, given it was his influence that started the whole process. But rather than just throw in the engine and be done, together the pair set about transforming the car from a grandad-spec cruiser into something Tom could be truly proud of. 

 

That started with the engine bay being painted in preparation for what lay ahead. Once the front chassis rails were painted, the new suspension could be installed, consisting of RideTech coilovers, tubular A-arms and sway bars. The rear end received the same, albeit with adjustable 4-link bars to get the diff sitting just right. 

Speaking of which, with the engine being purchased as having 800hp, Tom wisely chose to upgrade the diff to a 9-inch from the get-go. Sure, he could have waited until the 12-bolt destroyed itself, but he wisely chose to do things right the first time. That meant the diff was fitted with 4-pot Wilwood callipers along with 280mm rotors. The front end received a serious upgrade too, from the factory tiny unboosted discs all the way to 6-pot Wilwoods and 335mm rotors along with a Hydro-Boost booster system. 

 

Somewhere amongst all of the mechanical work, Tom devised a plan for what he’d like to do with the body work side of the project. Although the car was reasonably straight when he bought it, it still had a vinyl roof and the paint wasn’t quite to his liking either. Chopper at Choppers Body Shop took on the job of fixing all that, removing all the trim before having the body painted in a new custom shade of blue. Although not all the trim work would go back on, the bits that did were painted in a custom satin black finish first. 

 

Pariah took on the job of getting the car running including sorting all the custom fabrication work required like constructing the custom 3.5-inch exhaust system, which was attached to 2¼-inch Lemons headers. Those headers now attach to the 632’s aluminium heads, heads filled with 2.30-inch intake valves and 1.88 exhaust valves, along with upgraded springs thanks to Edgell Automotive. The block is an all-new cast iron item, filled with a forged crank, forged H-beam rods, and forged pistons with an 11.0:1 compression ratio. The top end runs an Edelbrock Victor Junior intake and a 1250cfm Holley Dominator carb. Of course in Tom’s efforts to get it looking just right, he had the engine itself painted and made sure that all the accessories were black too. The black accessories include not just the MSD Pro-Billet distributor and the Meziere electric water pump but also all the fuel system components such as the AN-8 fittings.

 

Moving inside the car, Tom replaced the original gauges with a Dakota Digital cluster. Besides the addition of a decent Alpine audio system, the rest of the interior was tidy enough to be left alone though, which says something given his quest for perfection. 

Although he loves the finished car — as he should — there’s one part of the build he’s less in love with: the hood scoop. Ideally the car would have a factory flat hood, but with the tall deck 632 that’s not really an option as the motor is simply too tall. That is, of course, unless he changed to a crazy intake set-up or a low profile EFI intake manifold and some form of forced induction … but that’s not exactly the simplest nor cheapest approach. And given how he’s built the car right the first time, he’s best to leave it alone now and focus on the new (to him) Chev 3100 he’s recently bought. Besides, what’s not to love about a 632 cubic manual Chevelle with modern suspension, steering, and looks to match? We’d say it’s perfect as it is, something that not everyone can achieve, even if they’re dedicated enough to try to do so.

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This article originally appeared in NZV8 issue 219

SPEC LIST

Vehicle: 1967 Chev Chevelle

Engine: 632ci big block Chev, BluePrint cast iron block, 4-bolt mains, 4.60-inch bore, 4.75-inch forged crank, 6.63-inch forged H-beam rods, forged pistons, 11.0:1 compression, aluminum heads, hydraulic roller cam, 2.30-inch intake valves, 1.88-inch exhaust valves, Edelbrock Victor Junior intake, Holley Dominator carburetor, Carter billet fuel pump, AN-8 fuel lines, MSD Pro-Billet distributor, 2¼-inch Lemons headers, 3.5-inch twin stainless exhaust, AdrenalinR mufflers, custom Griffin dual pass radiator, twin Maradyne 16-inch fans, CVF Racing electric water pump

Driveline: Tremec TKO 5-speed gearbox, McLeod twin-plate clutch, 9-inch diff

Suspension: RideTech coilovers, RideTech sway bars, RideTech tubular arms, 4-link rear

Brakes: Hydro-Boost booster, Wilwood Aero 6 pot front callipers, 335mm front rotors, Wilwood 4 pot rear callipers, 280mm rear rotors

Wheels/Tyres: 18×9-inch and 19×10.5-inch BC forged wheels, 245/40R18 and 305/30R19 tyres

Exterior: Custom paint, removed trim, 4-inch cowl scoop

Interior: Dakota Digital gauges, Alpine head unit, Alpine speakers

Performance: 730hp at the wheels

 

Driver: Tom Hocking

Car Club: Shore V8 Classics

Age: 35

Occupation: Flooring industry

Previously Owned Cars: Chevy 3100

Dream Car: Chevy 3100

Why the Chevelle?: Bought a 1957 Chevy 3100, but it was going to be too hard to comply with, then my mate’s dad had a friend selling the ’67 Chevelle, and I loved his one.

Build Time: 1 year

Length of Ownership: 4 years

Tom thanks: Matt at Pariah Custom Werks, Tim at Edgell Performance, Craig at Mag and Turbo, Choppers Body Shop