Never afraid to boil the hides, Jim Gollwitzer has taken the car to a number of shows including Super Chevy, Goodguys, and the Street Machine Nats to show off and hang out with his brethren. He says one of his favorite things is when young kids come up and ask about the car. He smiles inside knowing that there are plenty of young recruits out there.
Jim Gollwitzer wasn’t even a gleam in his father’s eye when his ’64 Chevelle was born in the heat of the Cold War era. Young Jim didn’t know it when he was just a wee lad but he was destined for a lifelong enlistment in the army of Chevelle fans. He got his draft papers the day his dad came home with a brand-new ’72 Chevelle. By his 14th birthday he was regularly wrenching on the Chevy, and by 16 he proclaimed the car as his own. He hasn’t stopped fighting to keep alive the old promise of a chicken in every pot and a Chevelle in every driveway.
Twenty-five years later, Jim’s battled through the restoration of a whopping 40 Chevelles, keeping five for his personal collection. (PHR managed to catch his ’72 in mid-bodywork for the cover of the Aug. ’09 Readers’ Projects issue.) Naturally the first one was near and dear to his heart, and he’s kept rubbing on it for the last 25 years. Most recently, this clean ’64 300 Deluxe former-fairgrounds-bruiser-turned-bracket-racer entered his life and he donned his fatigues to strategize a victory plan.
The majority of the interior...
The majority of the interior was as Jim bought it. He says the previous owner spent gobs of money on things like an updated dash and gauge set, but just didn’t know how to do some of the basics to get it working right. With the rollcage, it is a little tight to get in and out and he hasn’t quite figured out a way to get a baby seat in the rear with the wheeltubs taking up the back seat space, so on family cruise night, they pile into one of his other Chevelles for a spin to the local burger shack.
Like all good plans, there had to be some assumptions made. “A couple years ago, I didn’t have a first-generation, ’64-65 body style, and with the economy the way it was, I knew that there were some deals out there if you were at the right time and the right place.” Jim put the word on the street that he was looking for a ’64 and hoped his spies would turn something up. One of his feelers landed on a guy in the construction industry who was feeling the impending pinch of the economy and knew he had to develop some cash in a hurry before the buyers dried up. After meeting with the seller, Jim says he practically talked the price down himself and Jim took it home for a paltry $7,900. He couldn’t believe his luck. Little did he know the low price was but a small victory in the battle to turn the car into a dream piece.
The 300 is one of the lesser known A-body variants sold as a basic bottom-of-the-line model. GM developed the A-body as a midsized car to compete with the likes of Ford Fairlanes and Dodge Darts. While the Fords and Dodges were suffering from an identity crisis by resizing larger cars from the early ’60s, the Chevelle was born from a clean slate and was blessed with a clean body. Pentastar and Blue Oval offerings in ’64 retained some of the cluttered body lines of the Eisenhower years and the General knew that if they wanted a head start on the free-thinking market of the mid ’60s, they would have to walk away from the designs of the previous decade and start anew. Chevelles were the result of this new plan.
Offered in a number of option plans, the basic breakdown showed the car available as a base model 300 sedan (post), Malibu sport coupe (hardtop), Malibu convertible models, and the upscale Malibu SS version. El Caminos were also an integral part of the family line and developed their own fan base. The all-new A-body was an immediate smash hit as sales for the first year skyrocketed to over 370,000. Couple that with sales of the Buick Skylark, Pontiac Tempest (and GTO), Olds F85 (and Cutlass), and the success of the A-body family from GM was pure dominance.