BBT Built 1969 Chevy Chevelle Pro Touring Restomod

By Nick Licata   –   Photography by John Jackson

Fred Koss is a self-proclaimed “car nut.” He’s been one his entire life. His love for cars started with building model cars and racing slot cars, and later in life he spent weekends drag racing in NHRA’s Super Gas class. Immersed in the car world, this one-of-a-kind ’69 Chevelle is his latest, but before that he owned a host of other hot rods, including his first car that just so happened to be a ’69 Chevelle SS as well.

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But this here Chevelle build didn’t happen overnight—not even close. “I searched for years looking for a solid, rust-free example to start as a project, but dozens of leads ended up being rusted-out hulks,” Fred explains. “I finally located one in satisfactory condition, with the plan being to restore it and then arm it with a big-inch big-block and a Turbo 400 to have some fun. I figured the process would take me three years, tops. That was over 25 years ago.”

003 Red 1969 Chevelle SS parked at an old gas station daylight

Read More: Tony DeLuca’s Big-Block 1970 Chevelle

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Yep, that’s a familiar story when it comes to restoring cars. In Fred’s situation, it was the demands of work, spending quality time with the wife and kids, and overall life in general that took precedence. Which is not a bad thing, as Fred adheres to the idea that family comes first.

002 Red 1969 Chevelle SS cruising on a country road at sunset

With the Chevelle enduring decades-long hibernation, about five years ago, Fred decided the time had come to build the car or pass it onto someone else to take over the restoration. “With my wife, Janier, giving her blessing, I pulled out all the notes I made years earlier along with dozens of catalogs I had researched for the Chevelle’s build direction,” Fred recalls. “I still wanted a big-block, and I liked the idea of using a 4L85 transmission, but technology had changed since my initial ideas for the car so an LS engine seemed like the way to go. A big-block would have been cool, but we planned to drive this car long distances so the fuel mileage alone would not have made sense.”

008 Detailed view of a 1969 Chevelle SS engine modern upgrades

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Further investigation had Fred surpassing the LS engine platform and led him to an LT4, but when Chevrolet released the LT5 with 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque, that was the direction he wanted to take. As projects go, the Chevelle went from an engine and trans swap into a full-blown restoration. Fred figured since he was going with modern power the vintage chassis would no longer suffice. He set his sights on a Roadster Shop chassis but he still needed a shop to do the build to his specifications—a shop willing to collaborate and not just do it their way.

019 Hood of a red 1969 Chevelle showing off the raised center section

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An Internet search led Fred to BBT Fabrications in Mahomet, Illinois, which was only 20 miles away from his home in Pesotum. “BBT owner Troy Gudgel and his team’s approach to building cars was exactly what I was looking for,” Fred says.
“Over the following three years, collaborating with Gudgel was a fantastic experience. Our ideas evolved, and the modification plans for the Chevelle regularly adjusted, always for the better.”

010 Close up of high performance spark plug wires in a 1969 Chevelle SS engine

Going straight for the heart with the build, BBT spruced up the stock LT5 with a Wegner Motorsports front drive system and built a custom intake tube topped with a K&N element for improved breathing. BBT then bolted on a set of Ultimate Headers 1 7/8-inch headers, custom 3-inch stainless exhaust, and Borla Pro mufflers to give the Chevelle a bold auditory presence.

017 Gear shifter close up in the center console of a 1969 Chevelle

Managing the shifting tasks is a GM 10L80E 10-speed transmission, channeling power to a Strange Engineering 9-inch rearend housing equipped with an Eaton Truetrac posi unit and Strange 31-spine axles. Underneath, BBT installed the aforementioned Roadster Shop (RS) Fast Track chassis complete with a parallel four-bar rear suspension system and Fox coilover shocks and Hypercoil springs. Up front the RS chassis hosts C7 spindles, tubular control arms, Fox coilover shocks, and a splined 1 ¼-inch sway bar. The ensemble gives the vintage Chevy a low-slung stance and the performance driving experience of a modern sports car.

018 Close up of the SS wheel and tire of a 1969 Chevelle

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EVOD Industries received the commission to craft a unique set of wheels reminiscent of vintage factory SS design tailored to accommodate the massive 285/35R18 and 355/30R19 tires. This endeavor aims to harness the formidable power of the LT5 while optimizing the performance of the Roadster Shop chassis to its fullest potential.

To efficiently bring the classic Chevelle down from speed, a collection of black powdercoated Baer six-piston disc brakes aggressively grab onto 14-inch rotors under the command of the Intek Otto master cylinder supported by the Intek Otto iBooster adaptor. Once again, the Chevelle dug into the aftermarket to add another layer of modern performance and driveability.

012 Interior view of a 1969 Chevelle with black leather seats and center console

This interior reveals a combination of modern nuances and vintage style that enables the Chevelle to offer modern comfort without disrupting the car’s original intentions. A Dakota Digital dash insert resides in the stock dash and showcases the Dakota Digital RTX gauges, which take a vintage-styling approach while offering modern functionality to monitor crucial engine parameters.

014 Close up of the instrument cluster and steering wheel of a 1969 Chevelle

The upholstery includes Moore and Giles black leather throughout and wraps the RPUI factory replacement door panels and the ’06 GTO seats reworked by BBT’s upholstery guru Dave Mannon who created a scene that resembles the car’s original vintage layout. The factory replacement center console was treated to a custom insert, which offers a solid foundation for the shifter and electric window controls. Craft Customs wrapped the GM steering wheel sitting atop an ididit steering column.

007 Aerial view of a red 1969 Chevelle SS at a classic gas station

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According to Fred, the Chevelle’s body captures an amazing blend of contours and lines that create an impressive foundation that demands no alterations or unnecessary embellishments—superb bodywork and a meticulous paintjob are the only improvements required. Enter Relic Restomods, who skillfully refined the body, sanding and blocking their way to a pristine canvas before applying a luxurious layer of PPG Garnet Red paint, elevating the Chevelle’s aesthetic to a new pinnacle of perfection. From there BBT took over and cut and tucked the stock bumpers for a more refined visual appearance then sent them off to Advanced Plating for an absolute mirror-like finish.

009 Close up of the engine in a 1969 Chevelle SS high performance parts

To Fred, firing up and hearing the LT5 for the first time was the greatest thrill he’s had with the car thus far but claims experiencing the brutal full throttle acceleration of the Chevelle for the first time was a close second. “I’ve always said too much horsepower is not enough, but I must say the LT5 is sufficient.”

006 Red 1969 Chevelle SS parked at an old service station clear day

At times, owners may find themselves reevaluating the choices made during a specific build, but Fred affirms that his Chevelle turned out precisely as he had envisioned, and he wouldn’t alter a single detail. He commends Gudgel and the BBT crew for transforming a car that he nearly parted with into a ride he and his wife can enjoy on long drives for years to come. It’s a true vintage muscle car with all the horsepower necessary seamlessly tied together with unmatched streetability for a comfortable ride combined with incredible performance.

005 Red 1969 Chevelle SS by a white brick building with red roof sunny

TECH CHECK
Owner: Fred & Janier Koss, Pesotum, Illinois
Vehicle: ’69 Chevrolet Chevelle

Engine
Type: LT5
Displacement: 376 ci
Compression Ratio: 10:1
Bore: 4.06 inches
Stroke: 3.622 inches
Cylinder Heads: A356 T6 aluminum
Rotating Assembly: Forged steel crankshaft, forged aluminum pistons, forged powdered metal steel connecting rods
Camshaft: Hydraulic roller (0.551/0.524 lift, 116.5 LSA)
Induction: Eaton 2.65L supercharger custom BBT intake tube with K&N element
Assembly: GM
Accessory Drive System: Wegner
Exhaust: Ultimate Headers 1 7/8-inch headers, BBT custom stainless steel 3-inch exhaust, Borla Pro mufflers
Wiring: Coach Controls by BBT
Ancillaries: Powermaster alternator, C&R Racing aluminum radiator, Speartech LSX controller, Ringbrothers hood hinges, Rick’s Tanks 20-gallon stainless steel fuel tank, Mighty Mouse Solutions catch can
Output: 755 hp, 715 lb-ft of torque

Drivetrain
Transmission: GM 10L80E 10-speed
Driveshaft: QA1 carbon fiber
Rear Axle: Strange 9-inch housing, Eaton Truetrac differential by GearFX, Strange 31-spline axles

Chassis
Chassis: Roadster Shop Fast Track
Front Suspension: Roadster Shop tubular control arms, C7 Corvette spindles, Fox coilover fixed valve shocks, Hypercoil springs, 1 ¼-inch splined sway bar, power rack-and-pinion steering
Rear Suspension: Roadster Shop four-bar suspension system, Fox coilover fixed valve shocks, Hypercoil springs
Brakes: Baer disc brakes with 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers, Intek Otto iBooster adaptor and master cylinder adaptor, Wilwood proportioning valve

Wheels & Tires
Wheels: EVOD Industries one-off, three-piece replica SS, 18×10 front, 19×12 rear
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, 285/35R18 front, 355/30R19 rear

Interior
Upholstery: Moore & Giles black leather
Carpet: Black loop
Installation: Dave Mannon
Insulation: DEI Boom Mat
Seats: ’06 GTO
Seatbelts: Morris Classic Concepts
Steering: Ididit column, GM steering wheel leather wrapped by Craft Customs (Rockwall, TX)
Shifter: GM
Dash: Stock with Dakota Digital insert
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital RTX
HVAC: Vintage Air
Stereo System: Custom Autosound head unit, Focal speakers

Exterior
Bodywork & Paint: Relic Restomods (Richmond IL)
Paint: PPG Garnet Red
Hood: Custom by BBT
Grille: GM N.O.S.
Top: Legendary Auto vinyl by Don’s Auto Trim (Indianapolis, IN)
Front Bumper: GM cut and tucked by BBT
Rear Bumper: GM cut and tucked by BBT
Headlights: Holley LED
Taillights: Stock
Side Mirror: Morris Classic Concepts
Plating: Advanced Plating

Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of BBT Built 1969 Chevy Chevelle Pro Touring Restomod.acp april 2024

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