One of Legens favorite touches...
One of Legens favorite touches are the vintage characters used in the gauges. A vintage gas pump is used on the fuel level gauge, a lightning bolt represents the voltmeter, an oil can and spout illustrate the oil pressure gauge, and an old-school thermometer is used for the water temp gauge.
George found the Chevelle in a museum and convinced the owner to sell it after several years of haggling. Although it packed a big-block, something about the 300's Spartan disposition spoke to him. He had visions of turning it into a simple, stock-looking driver with an updated suspension, and commissioned Steve Legens of Legens Hot Rod (www.LegensHotRod.com) to complete the restoration work. Since the car had already been restored once before, only the fenders, lower quarter-panels, and trunk pan needed to be replaced. The rest of the car was solid, and this let Legens put most of his efforts into infusing some big-time creativity into the project. "With a lot of the cars that George builds, he'll have very specific ideas and have a rendering put together before he brings the car to you. This car was a little bit different," Legens says. "All George told me is that he wanted a stock-like restoration with nice paint, a modern suspension, and a manual transmission. Since the car is an original Chevelle 300, we wanted to make it as simple and 'delete' as possible. This car has no radio, heater, wipers, or upholstery in the trunk. I was inspired by the movie 300, in which 300 badly outnumbered Spartan soldiers fought valiantly against 1,000 Persian troops. Consequently, the idea with this car was to build a plain Chevelle 300 with a small motor that could battle with the big dogs. It might not win, but it would certainly put up one heck of a fight."
On the outside, the Chevelle is as monochromatic and unassuming as they come. The overall execution borders on boring, but that's the way it's supposed to be. A keen eye will spot shaved side chrome, driprails, keyholes, fender moldings, and emblems. Likewise, the bumpers have been narrowed and moved closer to the body. Inside the cabin, the most noticeable elements of austerity are the bench seats, custom rubber floor mats, and black vinyl covering the seats and door panels. You might have to do a triple or quadruple take to notice, but every nook and cranny is full of surprises. Legens built a custom dashpad that eliminates the speaker and defrost vents. The custom gauge cluster from Classic Instruments features fully modern internals, but it looks 100 percent factory. One of the most interesting touches is a lighter switch that's been converted to a starter button. To fire up the 302, all George has to do is push the original lighter into the dash, which starkly contrasts the gaudy bright red buttons that are common on today's Pro Touring machines.
To keep the simplistic theme rolling, Legens ripped out the big-block and replaced it with a 302ci mill. Since the Chevelle was powered by a 283 small-block from the factory, Legens wanted to stay frugal with the cubic inches in the new combo. Despite the handicap in displacement, he was still able to eek a respectable 500 hp out of the tiny 302, thanks to careful parts selection. The motor is based on a Dart SHP 4.000-inch bore block matched with an Eagle 3.000-inch forged crank, Scat steel rods, and Diamond 11.0:1 pistons. The air supply comes courtesy of a set of AFR 195cc cylinder heads, a Weiand dual-plane intake manifold, and a Holley 750-cfm carburetor. With a healthy COMP 242/248-at-.050 hydraulic roller actuating the valves, the 302 zings freely past 7,000 rpm. Backing it all up is a McLeod twin-disc clutch, a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed stick, and a Moser 9-inch rearend.