Dave and Crystal Kaveshan’s 1962 Chevy II is Ready for the Highway
By Tommy Lee Byrd – Photography by the Author
It’s common for a car guy to seek a change of pace at some point in his life, and we’ve seen that go both ways—some want to go faster and some want to slow down, but others, like Dave Kaveshan, simply want to try something different. He drag raced for many years, and he must’ve gotten tired of doing wheelies in his supercharged 1965 El Camino because that project was sidelined in favor of the corner-carving 1962 Chevy II seen here. As it turns out, the wheelstands and wild rides were pretty rough on the bank account, so Dave jumped full force into a car that would be a little easier on parts but still put a smile on his face. The important part of this equation is that he could now enjoy car crazy adventures with his wife, Crystal, alongside in the passenger seat.
Dave picked up this two-door post Chevy II several years ago. The car was running and driving at the time of purchase, but the deeper he dove into the project, the worse it got. It had lots of questionable repairs by previous owners, but Dave was determined to fix it and follow through with his plans to build it into a Pro Touring–style car. He saw the extreme rust repair as an opportunity to make some modifications to better suit his vision for the car. This included raising the transmission and driveshaft tunnel. He admits the metalwork was the most challenging aspect of the build, but the difficult work provided the foundation for a killer machine.
After the sheetmetal surgery, Dave moved onto setting up the suspension and getting the Nova back on all four wheels. Detroit Speed’s products and performance stood out to him, so he made a wish list and worked toward a goal of buying a complete front and rear suspension package. The Detroit Speed front subframe consists of hydroformed rails, tubular control arms, adjustable coilovers, forged spindles, and a splined sway bar. The front frame kit also eliminates the sloppy steering box and linkage, utilizing a rack-and-pinion setup for snappy steering response.
Out back, a Detroit Speed QUADRALink rear suspension system disposes of the original leaf springs in favor of a four-link system with adjustable coilovers. Dave installed a 9-inch rearend housing, narrowed to fit the Chevy II track width. He didn’t go crazy with ultra-wide rubber, but the 285/40R17 tires and 17×9.5 wheels offer a great look and plenty of traction. The front tire and wheel combination is a 245/40R17 mounted to a 17×8 wheel. The Centerline wheels feature 4.5 inches of backspacing on all four corners.
Underhood the Chevy II is slick and functional. It features Detroit Speed inner fenders, a smoothed firewall, and lots of satin black paint. Dave opted for LS power; he went with the lightest and most affordable combination he could find—an L33 from a 2007 Chevy truck. This 5.3L engine features an all-aluminum construction and makes a little over 300 hp from the factory. After stripping away some of the unnecessary items, he rebuilt the engine to the stock configuration, with the exception of the Brian Tooley Racing Stage 1 camshaft. B&B Performance in Alcoa, Tennessee, handled the necessary machinework.
Dave spent quite a bit of time smoothing the original truck intake manifold, giving it a cool look for cheap. He also dressed up the accessories with a Vintage Air Front Runner drive system. A simple upgrade to the stock truck manifolds consists of Hooker cast manifolds, which lead to a 2.25-inch exhaust system with Borla Pro-XS mufflers. Power is delivered through a five-speed manual transmission, modified to fit the Chevy II chassis.
When it came time for bodywork, Dave enlisted the help of Troy Shipman to straighten the panels and prepare it for paint. Then, it was passed to Dustin Daniel who sprayed the Hot Chocolate Metallic paint, which was sourced from a Mini Cooper. After it was sanded, buffed, and polished to perfection, Dave brought the car back home for final assembly. For safety on the open road, Dave gave the car all-new lighting, including a custom light bar with vintage-style foglights and a cool third brake light built from a 1939 Chevrolet taillight.
Dave also tackled the interior, which has several cool tricks. First is the modified dash, which includes vents and custom control knobs for the Vintage Air system located in the center of the dash. He then mounted the Kenwood stereo head unit behind the original tissue dispenser. Other details include a custom-built harness bar that can be unbolted for rear seat access and a nicely restored 1966-1967 Nova SS console. The Procar by Scat buckets are comfortable and look great inside the timeless interior, which is finished off with a traditional Chevrolet three-spoke steering wheel.
Although this project took seven years of evenings and weekends, Dave and Crystal wasted no time putting it to use. Only 10 days after it was finished, Dave and Crystal set out for a three-week road trip, which started in Kingston, Tennessee, and headed north to Chicago. From there, they traveled on Route 66, all the way to the Santa Monica Pier, enjoying the sights along the way. Then, the Pacific Coast Highway offered a beautiful view, as the couple headed to visit friends and family in Portland, Oregon. They made their way back to Tennessee through about eight states, soaking up some of the coolest roads in the United States. When they returned home, the Chevy II had clocked 7,900 miles over the course of 23 days.
The well-traveled Chevy II has since attended multiple Holley LS Fest events and several other autocross events in the Southeast. Dave and Crystal turned most of the wrenches on this project, but several friends jumped in to help, including John Gray, Mike Collier, Chris Shope, Todd Lyle, and others along the way. Dave and Crystal thoroughly enjoy throwing the car around in the corners, but the real fun happens when it’s time to pack up and hit the open road in their comfortable, fun, and stylish Chevy II. The change of pace has certainly been welcomed by the the Kaveshans, and we’re certain their next project will be just as cool.
Owner: Dave & Crystal Kaveshan
Vehicle: 1962 Chevy II
Type: L33 (LS based)
Displacement: 5.3L (325 ci)
Compression Ratio: 9.9:1
Bore: 3.780 inches
Stroke: 3.622 inches
Cylinder Heads: Stock 799 castings
Rotating Assembly: Stock
Valvetrain: Brian Tooley Racing
Camshaft: Brian Tooley Racing Stage 1 Truck Cam
Induction: Stock LS truck, shaved and smoothed
Ignition: Stock coil-on-plug
Exhaust: Hooker cast manifolds, 2.25-inch pipes, Borla Pro-XS mufflers
Ancillaries: Vintage Air serpentine system, C&R Racing aluminum radiator, dual electric fans
Output (at crank): 425 hp, 400 lb-ft estimated
Transmission: Silver Sport TKO five-speed manual
Rear Axle: 9-inch with 3.08:1 gears, Moser 31-spline axles, Detroit Truetrac differential
Front Suspension: Detroit Speed subframe with tubular control arms, JRi coilovers, rack-and- pinion steering, forged spindles, splined sway bar
Rear Suspension: Detroit Speed QUADRALink with JRi coilovers
Brakes: Baer 13-inch front and 12-inch rear, four-piston calipers, Wilwood master cylinder
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Centerline CRS-1 17×8 and 17×9.5 with 4.5 backspacing
Tires: Continental ExtremeContact DW, 245/40R17 and 285/40R17
Material: Black vinyl
Seats: Procar by Scat buckets
Steering: ididit column with stock reproduction wheel
Shifter: TKO with 1966-1967 Nova SS console
Dash: Modified by owner, A/C vents in center, custom knobs, custom paint
Instrumentation: Dakota Digital HDX
Audio: Kenwood head unit, Rockford Fosgate amp, JBL speakers
HVAC: Vintage Air
Bodywork: Troy Shipman (Morristown, TN)
Paint By: Dustin Daniel (Andersonville, TN)
Paint: Hot Chocolate Metallic
Bumpers: AMD modified with vintage-style foglights