Most people simply take their car to Beach Hop, but Glen Eggleton decided he’d take one and bring two home — the second being a blown big-block ’71 Chevelle
Words: Shane Wishnowsky Photos: Adam P Photography
In 2019, Rotorua’s Glen Eggleton cruised the main street of Whangamata at Repco Beach Hop 19 in his recently “finished for Beach Hop” ’68 Camaro. On the Saturday afternoon, Whanga’s busiest day, he spied a ’71 Chevelle parked up and sporting a ‘for sale’ sign. He quickly parked and gave the US coupe a bit of a once-over. Impressed with what he saw, he contacted the owner, had a bit of a chat, money was exchanged right then and there, and the car was picked up Saturday night. Now Glen had two tough American cars at his disposal at the biggest car event in the country!
The Chevelle looked and sounded tough with the compulsory 6-71 blower poking through a hole in the hood — life was good. Over the next few months, the Chevelle clocked up a few road miles. Glen and his partner Sam were happy with how it performed on the street but, with the Father’s Day Drags just around the corner, the Rotorua pair decided to take it north and make a bit of smoke and noise and see how well the old girl went on the drag strip. After three runs and two blown head gaskets, their day was done and on the trailer she went, with plans already being formulated for a “quick freshen-up”— or so they thought.
The car was originally built in Arizona and arrived in New Zealand in 2015. The blown big-block combo already made for one hell of a tough streeter, so it came as no surprise, when the engine was closely inspected, that the engine internals and general condition of all things inside were in great shape. Wanting more, though, Glen decided to give the big block a bit of a birthday and upgrade a few things just for good measure. While he was at it, the original 6-71 and smaller 650cfm carbs the car came with were donated to Glen’s dad to go on his small-block gasser. A new crank was ordered along with Eagle rods, keeping displacement at 510 cubes. A new Franklin Cams custom blower profile camshaft went in, with ARP head studs to hold everything together and in the correct place. A pair of Promax CNC port heads wear stainless valves and Crane roller rockers, while the Blower Shop 8-71 billet case supercharger and pair of 850cfm Holley Track Warrior carburettors sit on top of a Weiand supercharger manifold.
Once Glen had sourced all the bits he needed for his “quick freshen-up” direct from the States, he chucked it all into a box and handed it onto Lindsay Hay — dad of New Zealand’s fastest woman Karen Raggett — to screw it all together. The end result was 510 angry cubic inches of supercharged goodness. The M&M Transmission TH400 that came with the car had been recently rebuilt, so it just went back in where it belonged.
That’ll do quite nicely, Glen thought.
With propulsion now sorted, it was time to start personalising things a bit. Glen had wanted a set of Simmons FR wheels for as long as he could remember. A quick call to Rodney Heads of Heads Racing and a set of compulsory gold FR1s measuring 20×9½ inches for the front and 20×12 inches for the rear was ordered. Going with such large rear rollers meant the diff was now too wide. Out it came and had 50mm sawn off each end. Moser Engineering was contacted, measurements were made, and custom-length axles along with Ford nine-inch conversion bearing kits were quickly sent to be slid into the 12-bolt diff.
Glen says the whole process was very straightforward, and he can’t speak highly enough of the service. The adjustable trailing arms were fabricated and installed in Glen’s shed, making for an indestructible rear end.
Next on the hit list was suspension. Having owned a few American cars over the years, Glen had accumulated a fair few spare parts over time. Rummaging through one of the many boxes of spares he found a set of CPP lower control arms. These had been bought for a Camaro a few cars before but never actually fitted. The planets must have been aligned, as they were a perfect fit for the Chevelle. Matching upper arms were ordered, and it only seemed fitting to pair these with QA1 coilovers to match the ones already on the rear. The Wilwood Brakes catalogue was closely inspected, and a pair of 13-inch front discs was ordered, along with a matching master cylinder to handle stopping duties up front, while rear retardation is courtesy of stock drum brakes.
The white-on-white colour scheme the Chevelle wore really didn’t do it for Glen. He had intended to paint the car, but it was really only a ‘maybe one day’ kind of deal. The madness of the worldwide pandemic known as Covid — which everyone you talk to is sick and tired of hearing about — changed everything, though. As you all know, Repco Beach Hop 2020, to which Glen had hoped to take the Chevelle, was postponed until later in the year. This gave Glen a perfect excuse and a timely window of opportunity to change the colour. He had in his mind that he’d like it to be blue; he was thinking a light electric blue. When he shared his ideas with Robs Auto Spray in Rotorua he was met with a firm “no!” The guys pushed him into a much darker hue — they also had Glen’s partner, Sam, on their side. Feeling like he had been painted into a corner and not winning the argument, he made the decision for painter Karl to squirt on many coats of Kona Blue. The end result is spectacular, and Glen admits now that he is glad his mind was changed for him; he says that once he got his head around it being a Ford colour, he couldn’t really have asked for a better result.
The Chevelle came with white seats but there was only one real option in this case, and that was black. An upholstery kit was ordered, and Kevin Sanders was tasked with freshening up the inside. AutoMeter Gauges were fitted to the factory dash to make things a bit more modern.
We all know that there is nothing better to listen to than the whine of a supercharger; almost as good, though, is music — especially on weekend cruises and when the constant whine gets a bit too much. Glen handled this himself with a full audio install; everything Sony found itself inside the cabin: a touchscreen head unit, 6×9-inch rears, four-inch fronts, and a 12-inch subwoofer in the trunk — all powered by a Sony amp to keep the tunes thumping.
Post lockdown, the push was on to finish the car for the rescheduled Repco Beach Hop 2020, but time was fast running out; the ’71 was finally finished mere hours before the event. Glen took the Chevelle to his detailing company, Detailing Services, for the full works on the Monday before, to make everything shine inside and out; it was booked in for a WOF on Tuesday afternoon; then off to Whangamata on the Wednesday — now that’s cutting things fine!
Glen says the Chevelle ran flawlessly throughout the week. The feedback he got from people about it was “out of this world”, so much so that he has plans to make a few changes and take things up a notch or two, and he’s already entered it for Repco Beach Hop next year. So, if you want to see what he has planned, then best you get yourself to Whangamata in March 2021 — you won’t be disappointed.
This article originally appeared in NZV8 issue No. 189