George Harrison’s Immaculate Chevelle
TEXT: Jake Amatisto
PHOTO: Robert McGaffin
PUTTING that glorious list of parts together for a new project car is one of most enjoyable steps in the car building process. The potential realities of the cost and actual cost of the total build haven’t sunk in yet. You’re not thinking about the months it may or may not sit in a shop waiting for parts. You’re just imagining what it would be like to drop the hammer behind the wheel of your ideal street machine, race car, show car — whatever it is your imagination is toying with at the moment.
Thankfully most of the time, the end result of winning the car show, race, or just being able to cruise your ride anywhere is worth what it took to create. Take George Harrison’s impeccable ’70 Chevelle SS for example. George’s initial list of parts for his SS turned out to be a bit too radical for his liking, but what he ended up with, thanks to Troy Martin of Full Scale Hot Rods & Customs and Paul Bartlett of Little People Customs, both in Ventura, California, was a beautiful version of one of GM’s coolest muscle cars.
Although this wasn’t the car owner’s first hot Chevelle, it was the first project where he could get every aspect of a car exactly how he wanted. “I have had about five Corvettes and several Chevy trucks, but I always wanted a Chevelle like the one I had in high school,” George says. In both 1975 and 1978 he had big-block Chevelles, but he was on the hunt for one again in 2010.
From the rafters of Saticoy Auto Body in Saticoy, California, where George found it, sat the unbuilt version of the car you see on these pages. With the dark blue paint already finished, it waited for someone to give it life again. This is where Full Scale Hot Rods & Customs comes into the story.
“Troy [Martin] put this car together and spent long nights building a shell of a Chevelle into a showstopper. He put in a ton of work to get it where it is; it wouldn’t be such a nice car without him,” George says. At Martin’s shop, an Edelbrock-topped 427 was lowered into place with the Richmond five-speed, the Hotchkis suspension was bolted up, and in a year, George’s car was ready to cruise. “I enjoyed building it, we got to put some nice parts on a good car,” Martin says. “It’s cool to see it get some ink in CHP.”
George also recruited Little People Customs (LPC) to fine-tune his combination, as upon driving the pristine ’70 SS, he realized the cam was too big for his liking. LPC shop owner Bartlett said, “The cam [George] had, with the gearbox and tire height he was running ended up being too aggressive, so we stepped it down so it wasn’t rowdy on the street. The car came out real nice and once we toned the engine down, it could drive anywhere.”
Today, George’s Chevelle is in the hands of another lucky owner; he auctioned it off to start a new Chevy project, and if it ends up half as nice as this dark blue beauty, we’ll have to check it out.
Under the hood of George’s Chevelle is a 427 big-block with Edelbrock’s proven Performer RPM top end package. A compression ratio of 10.2:1 from a TRW piston, a bowl-blended combustion chamber, and an MSD spark ensure plenty of horsepower, while allowing George to run pump gas, and a modified Demon 850-cfm carburetor directs the air/fuel mixture. Pushing the valves is a COMP Cams Thumpr camshaft that features a mild, 0.510/0.496 lift and 287/304 of duration at 0.050, which gives a super-aggressive sound without needing the high-tension valvesprings and other top-tier valvetrain parts. We also heard these cams are underrated when it comes to power output. The Richmond five-speed transmission, which we feel would really make this car a blast to drive but the owner confessed would change, is coupled to a Kevlar twin-disc clutch from McLeod Racing, and a Moser Engineering 12-bolt rearend with 3.55:1 gears and a positraction differential by Coast Driveline & Gear in Ventura, California, get the power to the pavement.
Instead of trying to take a car that was already a driver and bolting parts to it to make his own, George had no qualms about picking up an empty Chevelle shell and going to town completely. The custom, dark blue paint scheme was sprayed by Santicoy Auto Body out of Santicoy, California, where the body and frame were separated and given the royal treatment of sheetmetal repair and, while the body was receiving a deserved scuffing, the entire factory frame was powdercoated. Silver SS stripes cover the top, and all the chrome and trim was also rejuvenated.
The suspension was also addressed with high-quality components that keep this stick-shifted ’70 stuck to the pavement. Hotchkis springs and Bilstein shocks attach the front and rear suspension, while Hotchkis’ sway bars keep body roll to a minimum during hard cornering. To incorporate George’s Boyd Coddington wheels, Little People Customs of Ventura, California, built some custom control arms and an adjustable rear suspension that allowed the tires to fit properly, giving a mean stance to the car.
Stopping the all-steel Chevy are Wilwood’s 13-inch, six-piston brakes at each corner, which definitely help the 3,600-pound ride come to a complete and hasty stop. The whole package rolls on Boyd Coddington’s 18-inch Magneato wheels, which have been blacked out on the spokes for a custom look. For tires, the Chevelle runs 255/40ZR18 in the front and 275/35ZR20 in the rear.
Inside the cockpit is a sane and sanitary environment that just looks incredibly inviting to the drive-hungry gearhead. Just simple, comfortable buckets wrapped like the factory pieces, a fresh factory-looking dashpad and instrument cluster, and in the center of the beast, where the driver becomes connected with his car, the Long shifter that allows George to easily bang gears. Quality Upholstery in Ventura was able to restore the cool black office to its original condition, but, of course, it has some modern features. A high-end car stereo system from Pioneer, for example, is one upgrade George had to have for those nice drives in sunny Camarillo.