Chris Castro’s 1964 Chevelle Malibu Personifies Style
Text and Photos by Chuck Vranas
Taking on the full build of a performance car can guarantee you a ticket to an epic journey. It all starts with sourcing the bones and follows by filling in the chapters as you move toward completion. The wicked 1964 Chevelle Malibu laid out across these pages, owned by Chris Castro of North Reading, Massachusetts, started off as a restoration with a driveline upgrade that eventually altered its path.
Growing up, Chris spent plenty of time on mini-bikes, go-karts, and ATVs, many times on mountain trails satisfying a need for speed. As the years passed, he frequented NASCAR and open-wheel events, which eventually led to his attending a number of racing schools with his brothers that included Skip Barber, Bertil Roos, and Buck Baker’s Seat Time Racing School.
As the years passed, he wanted to get involved in the hobby with his son, Sean. Having always been a fan of Chevy muscle cars, the design elements of the 1964 Chevelle Malibu fit the bill perfectly. So, the search was on. Locally, he came upon a clean, one-owner original Sport Coupe from California that was a solid driver. A deal was made and the keys changed hands. After driving the car for a season he decided to freshen it up.
Chris met with Jim Smetanka, owner of AV Repair in nearby North Andover and made plans to restore the body and update the driveline. The team started by blasting and powdercoating the original spine while also restoring the suspension and rearend. Following, the exterior was stripped with only the rear quarters needing to be replaced. The body was then blocked to perfection, gapped and prepped for a lustrous coating of PPG Gray Metallic Effect, bringing the car to life. For newfound power, he chose Chevrolet Performance’s venerable ZZ6 crate V-8. The engine features a cast-iron four-bolt main block filled with a forged steel crank linked to forged powdered metal rods capped with Hypereutectic aluminum slugs, while a steel hydraulic roller sets the beat. A Chevrolet Performance single-plane intake supports a Holley 770-cfm carb while a GM HEI adds spark. Matched to a fresh GM 4L65-E trans, the combination packs a 405hp punch.
Once back on the street, the car looked great and drove well, however Chris’ memories of time spent on the racetrack gave him a nudge for even more performance, leading him to Back Bay Customs (BBC) in Portland, Maine, to meet with co-owner Adam Clayman. The pair discussed a number of changes, including redesigning the engine bay and updating the suspension and brakes. First, RideTech’s coilover system was added featuring their upper and lower tubular StrongArms combined with tall spindles, HQ-Series coilovers, and MuscleBar, all linked to a UniSteer rack-and-pinion. Out back, a StrongArms four-link is matched to HQ-Series coilovers and an adjustable-rate rear MuscleBar. For plenty of stopping power, a Wilwood Disc Brakes dual power master pushes fluid through stainless lines to matching 14-inch GT slotted rotors and AERO6 Big Brake six-piston calipers in front combined with 14-inch GT slotted rotors with AERO4 Big Brake four-piston calipers out back. Linking to the street are 18-inch front and 19-inch rear Forgeline RS6 Centerlock three-piece wheels wearing Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber.
Underhood the BBC team brought a full engine bay redesign. To start, three firewall panels were created by CAD then CNC cut and hammerformed from 18-gauge steel. Next, inner fenders were shaved and smoothed, custom control arm covers and radiator cover filler panel were fabbed, then color-matched to the body. A custom aluminum tank was fashioned for coolant and washer fluid complete with sight glasses and engraved caps. All engine bay wiring was then rerouted and tucked away and the engine received polished stainless hard lines for cooling, fuel, and brakes. Up top, a FAST XFI EFI system was matched to a custom air cleaner while Hedman Hedders headers dump spent gases through a 2 ½-inch stainless exhaust with VAREX mufflers.
Outside, the team crafted a signature one-piece custom-formed grille with CNC-cut headlight bezels, all from 304 stainless. They followed with a lower front bumper lip from 18-gauge steel while also fabricating custom lower trim panels and tucked the rear bumper. Final updates include Ringbrothers door handles, mirrors, and open-air design billet hood hinges as well as United Pacific LED headlights.
Chris contacted JK Automotive Designs of Stoneham, Massachusetts, to infuse their signature style. Inside, the dash packs Dakota Digital HDX Series dials combined with a Billet Specialties Formula D-Shape steering wheel and Clayton Machine Works shifter wearing a custom stick from BBC. The JK Team developed the interior in CAD with panels and console cut using both a CNC and laser for precise fitment. The stock seat frames were re-foamed and sculpted along with creating a custom rear seat. Everything was then treated to Hydes Heavy Metal–toned leather accented by black and red stitching. A black suede Alcantara headliner and gray square-weave carpet add the final style.
For entertainment, a custom-designed audio features Illusion Audio speakers matched to JL Audio subwoofers pumped by Mosconi amps and matching digital sound processor, all coming to life through an American Autowire system.
This is one Chevelle Malibu that commands attention wherever it goes!
Owner: Chris Castro, North Andover, MA
Vehicle: 1964 Chevy Malibu
Engine: Chevrolet Performance
Type: ZZ6 crate
Displacement: 350 ci
Cylinder Heads: Fast burn aluminum, 62cc chambers
Rotating Assembly: Forged steel crank, forged powdered metal rods, hypereutectic aluminum pistons
Valvetrain: 2.000 intake/1.550 exhaust
Camshaft: Steel hydraulic roller
Induction: Chevrolet Performance aluminum intake, FAST XFI EFI
Ignition: GM HEI
Exhaust: Hedman Hedders headers, custom stainless 2 ½-inch stainless exhaust, VAREX mufflers
Output: 405 hp
Transmission: GM 4L65-E
Rear Axle: GM 10-bolt, 3.08 ratio
Steering: Unisteer rack-and-pinion
Front Suspension: RideTech StrongArms, tall spindles, HQ-Series coilovers, MuscleBar
Rear Suspension: RideTech StrongArm four-link, HQ-Series coilovers, MuscleBar
Brakes: Wilwood 14-inch GT Slotted rotors, AERO6 six-piston calipers (front), AERO4 four-piston calipers (rear)
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Forgeline RS6 18×8.5 front, 19×9 rear
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S P245/45R18 front, P275/40R19 rear
Upholstery: Hydes leather, Heavy Metal, JK Automotive Designs
Gauges: Dakota Digital HDX Series
Steering: Billet Specialties Formula D-Shape
Carpet: Square-weave, gray
Shifter: Clayton Machine Works, Back Bay Customs lever
Paint: PPG Gray Metallic Effect
Grille: Custom, Back Bay Customs