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My buddy Aaron behind the wheel after – we were trying to figure out where the seat should be centered up (the blue strip on the dash is centered on the steering column).
In this episode of the podcast show I had the chance to do another live and “on the scene” interview with Jeff Allison (and my pal Aaron Tjaden) during a recent visit to Allison Customs in New Mexico. It’s important to note that this particular visit was a “last hurrah” of sorts as Aaron and I went there to help complete the final projects on the car necessary before sending the car off for finish metal work and paint!
During the visit we tackled a million various small items that included finishing up fitment of the inner fenders, fitment of the drivers seat track (again), grinding about 14 miles of welds, and solving the fairly serious logistical problems of fitting custom headers to a car that would later have no engine (which was solved by buying a plastic mock-up engine block).
A good shot of Jeff (left) and Aaron (right) doing the final “mending” of the rear bumper. To get the fitment they wanted we ended up trimming the rear filler panel and pulling the frame cross bar out in addition to the work on the bumper and brackets.
The two BIG items tacked during the trip included both tucking and narrowing both bumpers as well as removing all exterior bumper bolts, and moving the tail light buckets out a smidge on both sides to get them into the proper alignment with the trunk lid.
My pal Aaron (who can fix or build literally anything) handled the bulk of BOTH bumpers himself, which is a fairly impressive thing as it was literally his first attempt at such a thing! (He would later go on to build an engine cradle for my LS3 out of some scrap plywood, a borrowed saw, and a drill.)
Jeff tackled moving the tail lights out and got them into the proper plane with the trunk lid which required some serious measuring, tweaking, careful cutting, and massive eyeballing. The tail light buckets on this car are literally the only original piece of sheet metal on the back of the car; absolutely everything else is new, and issues like this are common when dealing with re-manufactured parts (or even original ones, truth be told).
As the car owner, “General Contractor,” and least talented craftsman, my job was to tackle the simple stuff, decide what needed to happen next, and plan out the next stages of the build. That being said, Jeff did teach me how to build custom panels while I was there, and Aaron let me cut up the front bumper!
I’ll let the podcast show and pictures tell the bulk of the story here, but at the time of this writing I can confirm that the Chevelle is no longer in New Mexico…..so stay tuned for the next show to find out where she went!
p.s. If my pay Aaron Tjaden looks and sounds familiar to you, he should. The last time he and I went to New Mexico we didn’t make it home in the same truck. Check out this post for full details (Rob & Aaron’s Excellent Adventure: Chevelle Parts, A Cowboy Ranch, A Smashed Truck, and Three Dead Cows), but if you’ve ever wondered if people actually hit free range cattle while driving at night in southern Colorado, wonder no more.
A final tucked and narrowed rear bumper. Tucking involved identifying and removing the bulk of the things that prevent the bumper from being mounted in tight (and there are many), and narrowing…..is just what it sounds like. This is the first time the plates have been on the car since 2011.
The front bumper after tucking and narrowing treatment – however on this bumper, it’s only half way done. If you’ve seen our build rendering you’ll note that the cold air scoop, front spoiler, and round driving lights are missing (and the rectangular turn signals are going away). Stay tuned.
The right tail light bucket had to be cut out completely. Jeff and Aaron determined how far set in it was, then Jeff added in enough metal to fill the gap (but it wasn’t as easy as that sounds).
The left tail light bucket was a littler closer to being plumb. Jeff sectioned in a small strip on the outside of the panel, but didn’t have to completely cut it out of the car.
Believe it or not, but this is a shot of the defroster vent box that sits under the dash (in the picture you’d be sitting in the drivers seat, looking forward, with the dash removed). Since Jeff hid a roll bar behind the dash he had to come up with a creative way to still get defroster air to the windshield. Despite the giant roll bar blocking the path, this should still be a nice improvement over the tiny original defroster vent.
This is the one and only shot of me actually doing work on the trip. Jeff is on the left, mocking me. Aaron was running the camera, hoping I didn’t screw up his front bumper.
One item that had to be addressed was the underhood clearance of the new Vintage Air Front Runner system, which is a super nice unit that tightly mounts in all of the engine accessories (and also includes all new accessories – including a balancer). Since my engine was originally VVT equipped L92 that we’re converting to a non VVT LS3, the front cover had to be swapped out in order for proper fitment of the Front Runner system (which I specified for a non VVT engine). The big difference between the two is that the one on the right has a provision for the cam phaser for the VVT. The one on the left does not.
A nice benefit of having your car built by Allison Customs – a BBQ rib dinner (cooked by Mr. Allison, himself)!
The parting shot of the Chevelle.
We left with the engine in tow on this trip as it’s being built by Karl Performance in Ankeny, IA. This wooden cradle is something Aaron came up with in about 20 minutes, and it worked perfectly. It’s nice to have a friend who is a genius.
Funny enough, Aaron and I met a few more cows on this trip. I won’t show you the picture of him flipping the bird at them.
Here’s a shot of my truck and Aaron’s trailer a few days after this podcast was recorded. Guess where we were headed?
This interview sponsored by our pals at National Parts Depot – your premier source for muscle car restoration parts!