A 1965 Chevelle with a “Grumpy” Jenkins-inspired small-block and lots of family history

By: Tommy Lee Byrd   –   Photos by the Author

Some folks were lucky enough to experience the muscle car era at the perfect time in their lives. Late teens or early twenties was the ideal age for many enthusiastic car guys to have the time of their lives behind the wheel of a fast car. Longtime car guy and resident of Loganville, Georgia, Justin Sears barely missed the boat, being a few years too young, but his father helped start the fire with this 1965 Chevelle.

This very car hauled Justin to and from school, and just about everywhere during his childhood years. He spent a lot of time in the back seat as a kid and eventually moved his way up into the driver’s seat by the time he reached 16 years of age. Jerry Sears, Justin’s father, made the ultimate step in sparking Justin’s interest in cars by helping him get it ready for high school. They straightened up the body and kept the stock 283 and Powerglide to keep Justin out of trouble. The Centerline wheels and raised white letter tires definitely compensated for the lack of horsepower. Justin kept the car in this configuration for a few years, but would eventually park it in late 1993.

The Chevelle sat untouched for several years, but Justin decided to fully restore the car and give it a bit more personality in the process. He wanted to keep the white exterior and black interior, but the engine, transmission, and stance would see major changes. Since the start of the restoration, Justin has continuously modified the car to his liking, and the end result is a super slick Chevelle that brings back lots of good memories, especially the time he spent with his father. Throughout the rebirth of Justin’s Chevelle, the idea was to keep it clean and simple and build a car that could wow the crowd at a car show, and roast the tires, too.

In terms of suspension, Justin’s Chevelle is fairly simple, but longtime friend Kevin King helped get the stance just right. Justin admitted that it took a few tries to get the stance where he wanted it. To complement the lowdown look, Justin gave the Chevelle a set of 17×7- and 18×8-inch American Racing CL205 wheels, which feature custom backspacing for proper fitment under the early Chevelle platform. The Goodyear tires are sized at 215/45-R17 up front and 245/50-R18 out back for the perfect rubber rake.

Justin has always admired Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, so he decided to pattern his engine from a Grumpy Jenkins build. Starting with a basic 327ci small-block, Justin sent the goodies to Bryan Maloof at Maloof Racing Engines for a .030-inch over bore and a few other tricks. After the machinework was complete, Justin and friend, Jody Cofer assembled the engine, using a GM forged crankshaft, GM connecting rods and Wiseco pistons that create a 13.0:1 compression ratio.

Maloof Racing Engines handled the port work on the GM double hump cylinder heads. With extensive massaging to the “492” double hump castings, they are set up to flow plenty of air and keep up with the Demos Cams custom-grind solid roller camshaft. Crower valvetrain parts, including a staggered 1.6 and 1.7 rocker arm combination, allow the 332ci small-block to rev quickly and survive the abuse. Up top is an Edelbrock single-plane intake manifold and a Demon 950-cfm carburetor, tweaked by Lance Patton. A Holley electric fuel pump feeds the engine, while a Chevrolet Performance billet distributor and ignition box lights the fire.

A Griffin radiator and Spal electric fan keeps the engine cool. Exterior accessories include a K&N air cleaner, color-matched valve covers, and a generous coating of satin black to all of the other engine bay components. Behind the small-block is the appropriate transmission for a car of this nature—a good old-fashioned Muncie four-speed. A Hurst shifter operates the “rock crusher” transmission, while a Hays aluminum flywheel, clutch and pressure plate apply the power.

During the restoration, Justin handled the bodywork, with help from Rocky Allen of Allen’s Custom Paint in Loganville, Georgia. The body is mostly stock, but Justin replaced the quarter-panels and trunk pan and a few inner panels due to rust. The paint is PPG Global single-stage urethane that has been sanded and buffed to perfection. The stock body and Summit White hue offers a super clean look.

The black interior provides a great contrast to the white paint. Custom touches include an American Racing steering wheel and a hidden shift light that is only visible when the cigarette lighter is removed. All of the gauges are stock, but Justin hid a few Auto Meter gauges in the glove compartment to keep the dash sanitary. We love the look of the Hurst shifter poking through the floor with a simple shifter boot—no console necessary on this simple and clean interior.

With the car finished, all of Justin’s goals have been reached, and you can believe he’s happy with the results. Unfortunately, Justin’s father passed away shortly after we photographed the car. Luckily, Justin has his dad’s Chevelle, and we can only hope he remembers all the good times in it, long before he was the one behind the wheel. Though it looks and performs differently than when his father used it for daily transportation, Justin’s 1965 Chevelle is a time machine on wheels.

Owner: Justin Sears, Loganville, Georgia
Vehicle: 1965 Chevelle

Type: Small-block
Displacement: 332 ci
Compression Ratio: 13.0:1
Bore: 4.030 inches
Stroke: 3.25 inches
Cylinder Heads: 492-casting “Double Hump,” ported by Maloof Racing Engines
Rotating Assembly: Forged GM crankshaft, GM connecting rods, Wiseco pistons
Valvetrain: Crower 1.6 and 1.7 roller rockers
Camshaft: Demos Cams custom-grind solid roller
Induction: Edelbrock single-plane intake with Demon 950-cfm carburetor
Ignition: Chevrolet Performance billet distributor
Exhaust: Hedman Hedders headers, 3-inch exhaust, Flowmaster 40 series mufflers
Ancillaries: Custom-painted accessories
Output: (Est.) 480 hp

Transmission: Muncie four-speed manual with Hays clutch and aluminum flywheel
Rear Axle: GM 12-bolt with Moroso differential, U.S. Alloy axles and 4.11:1 gears

Front Suspension: Pro Shocks coilovers, Hotchkis tubular control arms, Hotchkis sway bar
Rear Suspension: Hotchkis springs
Brakes: SSBC power disc brakes

Wheels: 17×7- and 18×8-inch American Racing CL205
Tires: Goodyear 215/45-R17 and 245/50-R18

Upholstery: Stock style replacement
Material: Black vinyl
Seats: Original bucket seats
Steering: American Racing billet
Shifter: Hurst
Dash: Original, restored
Instrumentation: Original with Auto Meter gauges in the glove box
Audio: Original

Bodywork: Justin Sears
Paint By: Allen’s Custom Paint
Paint: PPG Summit White
Hood: Original
Grille: Original
Bumpers: Original

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