We can’t always get what we want in life. Sometimes, “close enough” is good enough.
That’s the concession Jerry Hunt had to make back in June 1965. At the time, he’d been looking for a 1964 Chevelle SS hardtop with a four-speed transmission. But, he didn’t have enough money to buy one.
Then, his dad found a car. Yes, it was a ’64 Chevelle, but it was a convertible. And it had been submerged in a flood.
“But it was cheap enough, I guess,” Hunt says of the $1,100 he paid for it. “If I wanted a ’64 Chevelle, I guess I would have to be satisfied with this convertible with a little bit of water damage. The waterline was just above the door handles. It was a smelly mess, I tell you that.”
He set about fixing it, changing the battery, starter, alternator and carburetor, and power washed the interior.
Then, slowly, the car began undergoing a transformation. In 1970, he converted the car to a four-speed transmission and replaced the interior.
“I found a nice interior inside of a 1966 GTO,” he says. “That’s what’s in it now.”
In 1976, he began restoring the Chevelle, a process that took a year. There was little body work that had to be done, with just a few dents and some rust to tend to. It got a new paint job and motor, and the front suspension parts were replaced, Hunt says. He let professionals replace the car’s top.
That waterlogged mess he had bought had now become the car he’d hoped for more than a decade earlier.
“Except for the outside trim now, it is an SS,” Hunt says. “I ended up building, over time, the car that I wanted.”
The Chevelle is the first car Hunt has owned that he’s restored and kept for himself. He’s been working on cars since 1966, finding cheap, beat-up vehicles to fix up and sell.
He’s kept the Chevelle as close to the original as possible. Ninety percent of the trim is factory original and the car’s paint is acrylic lacquer, which was used on cars back then, he says.
“It all looks stock,” Hunt says. “No customizing whatsoever. That’s the way I want to keep it.”
Contact Darren Tromblay at 953-4822 ext. 304 or email@example.com to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”