We’ve all walked into a nightclub and seen the big guy in the corner with a suit keeping an eye on things. For the most part, he looks like a professional who is minding his own business, but when the stuff goes down, that dude becomes a wrecking machine. Keep that in mind as we learn more about this 1970 Chevelle owned by Californian Shaun Hewitt. Shaun’s the owner of Hewitt High Performance and one of the absolute go-to guys in the Bay area for LS engine builds, swaps, and complete car projects. This Chevelle is his calling card, and it is his way to throw a few haymakers like that bouncer in the corner. See, there’s really two Shauns, and you’re really looking at two Chevelles.
There’s Shaun one, who is the business owner, dedicated mechanic, and walking encyclopedia regarding the LS family of engines and how to wring stupid power out of them. There’s Chevelle one with the beautiful paint, 20-inch hoops, big brakes, and super clean interior. Then there’s Shaun two. That’s the guy known as SS Shaun on YouTube shown dominating late-night street races in the same Chevelle that you just mistook for a show car. Both this car and Shaun’s business have been part of a long-term success story, the kind of which we love to hear.
It started for Shaun when he was 16 years old, when he got his mitts on a ’99 Camaro SS with an LS1 engine. Shaun loved the car and almost immediately started messing with the engine. In high school he took an automotive class and became voraciously interested in engines and engine building. Now with a plan to become part of the high-performance community, he attended WyoTech and completed his course work as quickly as possible. While schooling was nice for Shaun, he doesn’t lay his current success all on the fact that he has a piece of paper that signifies his completion of the program. “School was good, but it isn’t what had made me successful at what I am doing,” Shaun says. “I have worked very hard and been very dedicated to being the best at what I do. I am a perfectionist, and it kind of shows with the Chevelle.” Kind of shows? It may as well be a neon billboard for the type of work that Shaun turns out at his HPP shop.
But like the Chevelle, Shaun’s shop didn’t just spring forth from the ground as an operating business. He had to build it. “After I got out of school, I spent time working in three different shops that were all very heavy into working on and modifying cars like Corvettes. That’s where I think I really mastered the LS engine platform and learned what combos work to make great power,” Shaun says. Looking around and deciding that he could start his own business in the performance marketplace, Shaun struck out on his own and started in the most unlikely manner, working from the trunk of his own car. “I was wrenching and building cars out of my trunk,” he said with a laugh. “It was the way that I could afford to do it, and soon my customer base started growing. It wasn’t long before I was building cars in the garage at my townhome. That was a two-deep, one-wide garage, so the working conditions were tough!”
While all this was going on, Shaun was tinkering and building his ’99 Camaro into a low 10-second performer on the quarter-mile with a ProCharger and a host of other components that eventually raised the ire of the California smog police. The car was rendered useless. It didn’t comply with the draconian smog laws of the state and had to be parked. Shaun then realized that the best way for him to go was to find an older, smog-exempt car to work up.
That car showed up in the form of the ’70 Chevelle you see on these pages. At the time, the yellow car was nothing much to look at, but being rust free and solid, it served as the perfect easel for Shaun to paint his masterpiece on. “I swapped a pretty much stock LS2 and six-speed manual combo into that car shortly after getting it and did it all out of the trunk of my other car at the time. I didn’t have much money so for the first year I drove it around in granny yellow with dents and dings and even the original drum brakes!” The big C5 Corvette and fourth-generation Camaro disc combo that stop the car now are far more suited to the task than those old drums, but Shaun made it through.
After a year of the primer, we rented a booth across the street from my shop and shot the paint on it that you see now.
The car served as his daily driver while he built his client base and business. “When I was working out of my townhome garage, there was always one spot for a customer car and one spot for the Chevelle,” Shaun says. “I had a guy strip the car to metal and get the body right. I watched him hammer and dolly the metal back to where it was supposed to be, cut and replace steel that needed to be done, and then he shot the car in satin black primer. I didn’t have the money for the paintjob you see on the car now at that point, but the primer was a great step in the right direction. After a year of the primer, we rented a booth across the street from my shop and shot the paint on it that you see now.”