There were some truly incredible rides at the 2012 Run to the Shore event held at New Jersey Motorsports Park in April. We oogled the likes of Billy Utley’s all conquering Nova and Jeff Schwartz’s uber-bitchin’ Tempest, but it was this 1973 Chevelle of New Jersey’s Sean Rich that really spun our crank. This is a relatively unloved body style elevated by a guy with a great eye for subtle touches. The car is underpinned by a suspension that is effective but not capable of bankrupting a village and has a drivetrain that any BangShifter worth his or her salt could make work for short cash. It is everything cool we love about the car hobby because the ideas and the work were all generated by the hands and brain of the owner. A Pro Touring style 1973 Chevelle? This thing is as right as rain in our book.
This is one of those “first car stories” because this Chevelle was in fact, Sean’s first car. The Chevy was sitting in front of a house that Sean saw from the window of his bus going to school at the Vo-Tech every day. As it got closer and closer to the time he would be driving, Sean got more and more antsy to learn about the big Chevy sitting there all alone on the side of the road. As luck would have it, one thing lead to another and he was able to procure it for $1200. The car ran and drove, although it didn’t drive all that fast with a 2bbl equipped 350 motor and Turbo 350 transmission. As Sean tells it, the car was a dog and a half, but it was a dog the he loved and it served him well. Hell, this thing may have actually saved his life at one point.
Sean was hit head on while driving the car and it sustained some major league damage to the front end. He was an innocent victim, sitting at a traffic light one second and then watching a horrible accident unfolding in front of him the next. One of the cars in the wreck ended up as an unguided missile which unfortunately collected up Sean’s Chevelle and left him dazed and confused at the scene. The cops actually had to ask him to shut the car off because he was in such a state that he climbed out with the engine still running.
That would spell the end for most kid’s first cars, especially those kids that drive vintage iron but the Chevelle lived on. Sean was working an apprenticeship as part of his Vo-Tech high school education and he happened to be working it at Gary Betsy’s Performance Restorations, a shop known all over the country for their custom work and high quality restorations. Because of this, he was able to fix the car and get one hell of an education in the process. He still counts the guys at the shop among his best pals and for good reason, obviously.
With the car fixed, a Jasper replacement motor and four speed installed, Sean cruised and occasionally drag raced the car and then he went off to college. He describes the college period as a low point in his ownership of the car because he was a typical broke kid and the car became a bookshelf, garage art, stationary object, insert your name here for an unused hot rod here. Again, lots of cars suffer this fate and their owners move on to other interests. Not this Chevelle. Fresh out of college, Sean was determined to revive the car and he went right into it, promptly melting the wiring harness by the starter. That was the trigger for him to really tear into the car and start making the changes, gradually, that would bring it to what you see here before you. We like this guy.
We’re going to tell you the story of the car through photos and captions, so scroll down and read the specs, details, and finer points of this totally bitchin’ Chevelle.