Seven years ago, Holly Vassh and her dad were at the Jefferson (Wisconsin) swap meet and noticed a 1970 Chevelle. Holly has been helping her dad with his hot rodding most of her life, so they both knew immediately that the Chevelle needed a lot of work.
“My dad saw it and asked me if I wanted it,” Holly told me. “I really didn’t, to be honest, because of how much work it needed. I was terrified of doing that extensive of a project.”
It was in rough shape, but it was driveable. Holly took it for a test drive and fell in love. She brought the Chevelle home.
With her history of working on restorations with her dad, Holly had an idea of what was ahead of her. “It was in rough condition,” she said. “It needed quite a bit of work.”
Since the car was driveable, Holly started the rebuild with body work. There was a lot. She had to replace two quarter panels, two fenders, the trunk floor, and one door. The Chevelle was originally a Malibu model, but when the hood needed to be replaced, Holly opted for the SS cowl induction hood.
With the body work completed, Holly was ready to paint the Chevy. “I had a tough time picking the color,” she said. The Chevelle was originally Green Mist and had some green interior pieces, so Holly ended up choosing the factory Forest Green. Of course, she also applied the white SS stripes. “A ‘70 Chevelle isn’t a Chevelle without the stripes on the hood,” Holly said. She’ll get no argument from me on that.
The interior required almost as much work as the body. “It needed just about everything,” Holly recalled. She’s installed a new headliner, new dash pad, arm rests, and carpet. Holly also installed and painted the aftermarket center console and installed a new package tray and the Chevelle’s horseshoe shifter. The only thing she hasn’t done yet is replace the factory bucket seats, because, she told me, “I live on a farm, and until I move somewhere where there aren’t mice…”
Since the Chevelle has been running well, Holly hasn’t made a bunch of changes to the mechanics of the car. It’s still running the 400 cubic inch small block that was in it when Holly got it. The SBC is fairly stock, but it does have headers and a dual exhaust.
Apparently the 400 is pretty strong, because Holly told me “it still has enough power to get me in trouble.”
Holly repainted the small block two years ago when she pulled it out to swap out the factory TH350 transmission for a 700R4. She said the new trans bolted right up to the existing crossmember, but the swap did require her to install a new drive shaft. Holly has also rebuilt the rear end, keeping the 3.08 gears.
She told me there’s “nothing crazy” about the suspension. She’s installed new shocks, but otherwise the suspension is stock, as are the front disc and rear drum brakes.
One of the many things Holly got exactly correct on her Chevy is the stance. It’s classic. Of course it includes a set of Cragar S/S mag wheels and BFGoodrich Radial T/As. With a slight forward rake, and the dual exhaust outlets going straight out the back, you can’t get a better look for a 1970 Chevelle.
My favorite thing Holly told me about her Chevelle project is, “I drive it as much as I can. It’s got lots of power and handles well. I love it.”
The only downside? “I speed constantly,” she said. “It’s hard not to.”
The Chevelle is a regular at car shows, but has not yet made a trip down the drag strip. I asked Holly if she thought she might do that, and she said, “I… may.”
Holly’s future plans for the A-body are simple. “My only plan is to keep enjoying it. Keep driving it. I don’t have any plans as far as changing much. I’m pretty happy with how it is now.”
One additional aspect of the Chevelle that Holly really enjoys is photographing it. She took all the pictures you see here, which are from her Instagram account (@hollyvassh70). Those awesome overhead shots were taken when she and her brother climbed on a railroad crossing bridge near her home. The photo with the three model Chevelles is my favorite.
Even though she was initially hesitant to get the Chevelle, Holly’s very glad she did.
“I’m actually glad that it did need all that work,” she said, “because I learned so much about restoring cars, and about ’70 Chevelles specifically. I’m really fortunate to be able to have done all the work to it. I wouldn’t go back and change anything.”
Now if she can just work on that speeding problem…
All photographs courtesy of Holly Vassh
Click here to see more of Holly’s photos of the Chevy
You can follow Holly and her Chevelle on Instagram via @hollyvassh70