A lot can happen in 20 years. Styles come and go, things change, but one constant has been Dan Wild and his ‘65 Chevelle. “My son, who is 19 now, learned how to work a floor jack at age one and a half,” said Wild. “This is the first car my daughter (almost 21 now) ever drove. I wanted her to be able to say that the first car she ever drove was her dad’s ’65 Chevelle.”
Wild bought the car over 19 years ago for a mere $300. He says that the car originally came with factory air, power steering and even a factory tilt steering wheel. Based on the VIN, it was a six-cylinder car equipped with an automatic transmission (probably a Powerglide). But the now 48-year-old chief financial officer and senior VP knew a great investment deal when he saw one. It was then just a matter of getting it done.
As with any muscle car owner, horsepower was a major consideration for Wild. That’s why he went to Custom Engine & Machine, Upland, California, to have them build him a rock solid 383 ci. Once the block and GM 400 crank were balanced and ready, CE&M installed Keith Black Hypereutectic pistons. KB is a name well known in performance circles, and these provide the engine with a relatively sedate 9:1 compression ratio. A hydraulic GM L-79 Split Duration camshaft (292/288– 450/460 Lift) bumps the Erson lifters, which in turn activate the 1.6 roller tip rockers in the World Products Sportsman II cylinder heads. Equipped with 64cc chambers, the WP heads have been filled with Manley valves (2:02/1:60) and springs. Other tricks include the Milodon aluminum water pump, TRW high volume oil pump and a Summit Racing chrome pulleys and 100-amp alternator.
Providing the good stuff is an Edelbrock Performer carb and Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold, while an MSD lead wire-equipped GM HEI ignition makes sure that there is plenty of spark to light off the engine. Once that fire is lit, the resulting exhaust is routed with classic Hooker Super Comp headers, which are backed up with Spintech mufflers via 2 1/2-inch stainless tubes. All of which produces an estimated 450 horses and 450 lb-ft of torque, plenty to provide Wild with a good time.
Lots of power and a great tranny means fun no matter how you cut it, and adding to that good time is the Tremec TKO 500 five-speed manual transmission. Wild continued with the period theme by using a T-handle-equipped Hurst shifter to work through the gears. Wild had Keisler Automotive enhance the Tremec with a CenterForce dual disc clutch and a Lakewood scatter shield, all of which was installed by Joel at J&H Restorations, Riverside, California. Getting the power to the ground is done with a GM 12-bolt that has been filled with 3:08 gears and a posi unit, while an Inland Empire Driveshaft driveshaft connects the mechanical dots.
Pure power is great, if your car only runs on a dyno. Muscle cars need handling and brakes to make it in the real world. That’s why Wild went with Global West suspension components. Up front a set of GW tubular A-arms is matched with spindles from a 1991 Camaro and new Global West coil springs. The combo gives the Chevelle a 2-inch drop, while the Koni gas shocks give it stability through the sharpest corners. Slowing it down before the corner is the job of the 11-inch GM disc brakes. Out back new Global West coils work with the stock trailing arms though they have been upgraded with GW’s Del A Lum bushings, and as with the front, high-quality Koni gas shocks provide the fine ride. Providing fine style are the Centerline wheels. Measuring out to 16 inches tall (Front: 16×7, Rear 16×8), they have been shod with sticky Pirelli P6000 ZR rubber.
Wild has had this car for a long time and knew the interior like the back of his…well, backside. He installed Dynamat after completely sanding and repainting the entire firewall, floor pan and trunk with epoxy paint to prevent rust. The seats are stock ’65 Chevelle buckets, and the seats along with the rear bench were covered in two-tone leather by Bill Dunn at his One Stop Shop in Huntington Beach, California. In fact, Dunn was a busy man, because in addition to the factory door panels, he worked the rear package tray and covered the kick panels in matching leather, as well. He even installed the new black carpeting.
There are some tricks inside though: a Grant Boomerang steering wheel and a host of Auto Meter Ultralite gauges (speedometer, tach, gas gauge, oil pressure, water and amp) were installed in a custom-made aluminum/stainless dash insert. The unit is only one of two known to exist with the other being in former Super Chevy editor Shane Reichardt’s ’64 Chevelle. It seems that way back in the day Shane did an article that highlighted a guy in Corona who was making these dashes. He got one and Wild has the other. Also installed into the one- (okay, two)-of-a-kind dash is the Panasonic head unit. The car also has a Gen II Vintage Air Street Rod heat/defrost system. Everything fits under the dash, and a custom Vintage Air control switch was built by Vintage Air to fit in the original spot on the dash. The condenser and dryer and other lines are hidden under the passenger side fender and plumbed into the factory ducting under the dash. The car also has all new glass, window seals and rubber throughout and M&H Electric in Santa Fe Springs, California, built a complete new wiring harness for the car.
Outside, Wild didn’t want to mess with the clean lines that the Chevelle exhibited, but he did need to have a little bodywork done to it just to work out all of the dents. Coachcraft in Monrovia, California, did that as well as apply the PPG Zenith Metallic Blue paint—all six coats of it. Another four coats of clear finished off the project. The car also has HID headlights and LED taillights, and Wild installed new polyurethane body mount bushings to give the car a smoother ride.
Much like a dear old friend, over time this Chevelle and the Wilds’ have grown together, seen kids come of age and others grow to middle age. Wild has no plans to part with the car, and thinks that now that his car is (nearly) complete, he will have plenty of time to enjoy this most special of relationships.