Project 88: The Teardown Part 2

photos by: the author

The Teardown of Project: 88 — Continued

Restoring a car isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and you cold probably argue that it’s not the most exciting, either. At least in the Midwest. When we first started our Chevelle project, the idea was to replace any wear items that it may need, repaint the body, clean this, fix that and modify the more exciting bits.

Unfortunately, reality hit once we went to replace the interior and we realized that there was substantial rot found pretty much throughout the whole car. Everywhere from the floorboards to the lower cowl panel, to the trunk pan — you pretty much name it — the shell was under attack from the Midwest Cancer. It wasn’t too far to restore, but it was just enough to take us by surprise and set our schedule back a few weeks (months?) than what we would have originally liked. Plus, the frame was still perfectly solid so it wasn’t like the car was a complete goner.

As a result, it quickly went from a basic project car to a full-blown restoration with some performance hardware thrown in. But before we cross that bridge, we needed to tear this thing down to the frame and begin the rebuilding process. It’s going to be a lot of work, but anything worth doing is worth doing right.

The Agenda

  • Remove Vinyl Top
  • Remove and Dismantle Front Clip
  • Pull Engine and Transmission
  • Remove Doors and Tunklid
  • Remove Dashboard and Heater Box
  • Pull Front and Rear Glass
  • Fabricate and Install Body Bracing
  • Separate Shell from Frame

The first thing we wanted to address is the old vinyl top. Once considered a popular styling accessory in the ’60s and ’70s, we’re looking at completely removing it from the equation of our ’70 Chevelle — ours certainly had seen better days. We’re not entirely sure if its original or not (it more than likely is), but we know that this one isn’t going back on.

Plenty of rips, tears, fade and overall wear lent a more weathered appearance to the car, but even if it was in pristine shape, we always sort of felt that the vinyl top broke up the smooth body lines of these cars. The looked great, either way, but at least on certain colors, we prefer it without. So when we put this car back together, we’ll be leaving the vinyl top off for good.

Piggybacking off of our previous segment where we pulled the interior, we still had some fight left in us that evening to pull the top and see what lurked underneath. Sharp eyes would notice the original Astro Blue hue (Paint Code: 25) peeking out through the many rips in the top.

Having had the car in our corral for almost thirty years, we’ve always wondered what lie underneath the top anyway, though thanks to the various tears, we assumed it was simply the original hue. happily, apart from a couple of small spots the roof was largely solid.

With the top removed, we broke out the sander to remove the glue residue that’s been on there, presumably, since the car was built back in 1970.


The front clip we pulled off in pieces. Usually, you can do it all in one piece, but since we were reusing a few parts and shelving others, we essentially had to pull it apart anyway; such as the parking lamp housings, one of the fenders, the headlight housings (one yes, one no) and so on. All of the parts will be bagged and tagged, anything that isn’t salvageable will be scrapped and anything that is, will be reused in the rebirth of the car.

With the mounting bolts out, we pulled the passenger side fender — finally we felt like we were making real progress. You could probably do this by yourself, but having a buddy on-hand does make life easier.



One thong we skipped over from the previous installment was the removal of the dash and the heater box. Again, it’s SO important to bag and tag everything. You don’t want to lose any of those hard to find parts!


Though it’s entirely possible to do it without a lift, we’d recommend utilizing one if possible for this step — separating the body from the frame. We’ve already loosened all of the body mounts (they were shot!) prior to capturing this image, and the body was essentially ready to be pulled.


After quite a bit of work, genial wrenching and avoiding getting a tetanus shot, the shell was finally “unmarried” from its frame. There’s no going back now!


With the shell separate from the body, we pushed the rolling chassis out from under the shell, to prepare for teardown, and allow the shell to be mounted on the rotisserie. We’re also getting ready to pull the 396 (402), to prep for its rebuild process.


The engine, transmission, rearend, the frame, suspension… literally everything you’re looking at here will be getting rebuilt. As of this writing, the big block is already at AES Racing in Chicago, the frame is torn down, blasted and repainted, and many of the new parts are on order. But in due time, we’ll document how everything plays out!


Here’s a sneak peek of the OPG rear quarter being mocked up. We’ll dig into the body work in the next installment. Until next time!

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