Although they don’t carry the stigma of a minivan, four-door sedans don’t get much respect. It could be the styling revision the extra doors cost or perhaps chassis rigidity. We doubt it. At the end of the day, we avoid four-door sedans because they are responsible, sensible things, attributes not normally associated with fun cars. And then there are people like Dick Eytchison, who refuse to play the hand dealt. “This is the fourth Chevelle I’ve built,” Dick says. “The first three were show cars. One’s a driver.
“Folks usually dismiss the four-door models as undesirable. I think that’s why I like them. People don’t expect much from the sedan, so it’s a big surprise when such a large family type car performs so well.”
At a recent Goodguys meet in Del Mar, California, Dick threw the 3,371-pound car around a tight road course with go-kart–like intensity. Staying impossibly flat in the corners, the Chevelle had all the grace of a Lotus—albeit with 250 more horsepower.
Dick spotted the 80,000-mile Chevy six years ago while driving around his neighborhood. Its original owner had just died and willed it to a grandson. For nearly two years, Dick kept tabs on the car until the kid grew tired of its pedestrian temperament. Finally, $3,000 later, it was in his driveway. “It was a classic one-owner car, a genuine Sunday driver,” Dick recalls. “It was perfect … a great start for a great project.”
One of GM’s A-body platform cars, this Chevelle rolled off the Kansas City assembly line to compete with the likes of the Ford Fairlane. One of GM’s most successful models, the Chevelle saw several variations including a wagon, sedan, coupe, and convertible. Equipped with a 283ci small-block rated at 220 hp, the four-door Chevelle was referred to as a “Sport Sedan” a concept guys like Dick took to stratospheric levels.
Dick was fortunate in that he had a spare Chevelle frame, you know, just lying around. He had it stripped and powdercoated while the body was getting its own rubdown. In fact, he built most of the car himself. “I stripped everything out of the body—wire, hardware, glass, rubber … everything,” Dick says. “Although the factory doors and body panels were clean, there were gaps that bothered me.”
Dick reworked the body to perfection, the type of quality one doesn’t usually associate with older GM cars. In other words, this is a very straight Chevelle. Dick enlisted the help of Peterson Autobody in Cortez, Colorado, to spray the car with DuPont’s Artesian Turquoise, followed with a satin clearcoat.
The engine is a standard Chevy crate motor, a ZZ383 in a ’09 vintage. It was augmented with a few go-fast bits including a Holley Street Avenger 650-cfm carb capped with a gorgeous custom air cleaner assembly build by Dick’s brother, Gary. Underneath rests Edelbrock’s RPM Air-Gap manifold and a Performance Distributors DUI distributor. Downwind are Hooker Super Comp headers and a MagnaFlow stainless steel exhaust. A Mattson radiator and dual electric fans keep temps under control.
The original slushbox was swapped for a Tremec TKO-600 five-speed linked to a long-throw Keisler shifter. A standard 10¾-inch Sachs clutch assembly transfers its twist to a Drivelines driveshaft.
With an estimated 400 hp, this Chevelle has enough grunt to make the ride interesting. Fortunately, the suspension has the muscle to keep up. Dick threw the entire Hotchkis catalog at it and beat the underpinnings into magnificent submission.
You don’t see many four-door sedans given the all-star treatment. Dick Eytchison changed t
Dick reworked the A-arm assemblies with adjustment settings and set them in ultra-stiff polyurethane bushings. The sizable Hotchkis sway bars measure 1⅜ in front, and 1¼ rearward, and are held snugly in place with billet mounts. Hotchkis Sport lowering springs drop the chassis 2 inches and are augmented with custom-valved Bilstein HPS 1000 dampers. Rolling stock is comprised of custom-spaced CCW wheels measuring 17x8 in front, and 17x9.5 out back. Dick is running the Falken Azenis RT-615 tires (245/45R17 and 275/40R17) and reports their performance and longevity are outstanding.