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Custom Classic 1972 Chevelle

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Dave Jackson can’t resist a good challenge. So when a customer brought in a rusted-out 1972 Chevelle—held together with metal tape—to his shop in 2001, Jackson jumped at the chance to restore the car.

What Jackson, owner of Auto Body Crafters in Rapid City, S.D., didn’t know at the time was that he would eventually own the car, after sinking in 800 hours of work. Jackson had performed all of that labor before 2002. He replaced rusted quarter panels, fenders, wheel wells and door skins, and painted the car in a magnificent flame-orange pearl with white, multi-pearl ghost-flamed stripes, among other work. The car wasn’t finished, because the owner ran out of cash.  

But in 2006, that owner was starting a new business and needed a service vehicle, so Jackson struck a deal with him.

STREET MARKETING: Dave Jackson says his custom Chevelle has helped him gain business at Auto Body Crafters in Rapid City, S.D. Photo courtesy Dave Jackson

“I offered to buy a wrecked truck, rebuild it and equip it for his specific needs,” Jackson says. “In turn, he would trade the Chevelle for this service truck.”

When the Chevelle came back, it was untouched, despite the previous owner’s intentions of finishing the work himself.

“There was probably an eighth of an inch of dust on the car,” Jackson says. “Not a single handprint in four years.”

Upon becoming the Chevelle’s owner, Jackson ended up replacing nearly every piece of the car, including installing a complete new factory dash and SS gauge package, wire harnesses and Flaming River tilt steering column. Jackson says he wanted the Chevelle to look like a stock vehicle, but with modern updates, so he installed CPP four-wheel power disc brakes and power windows, and he converted the factory air conditioning to R-134a.

While the first owner had chosen a black interior, Jackson swapped out the black for a dark saddle, using a complete interior kit from Original Parts Group.

“A lot of guys go with the black interior,” he says. “But the saddle tan looks gorgeous together with the power orange pearl.”

He called on Roy Keith of Classic & Custom in Hot Springs, S.D., for the seat covers and headliner installation. The car rolls on a set of five-spoke 18x8 Boss 338 wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich G-Force radial tires.

“The first owner had real wild, newfangled wheels on it, but I didn’t like that,” he says. “He had the car all jacked up, so we dropped it back down for more of a traditional muscle car look.”

The car is also equipped with a GM Ram-Jet 350 crate motor, a Turbo-Hydramatic 350 transmission, a MagnaFlow stainless exhaust system and 3:73:1 gears with Positraction.

Jackson spent 600 hours of labor and $25,000 on parts (after taking ownership) before the Chevelle was finally complete in the fall of 2012.

“It’s been a real good marketing point,” he says. “When people come in and you’re trying to sell them on a repair, if you show them the Chevelle, that locks it in.”

While Jackson would ultimately like to sell the car, the Chevelle recently found a temporary home—it now sits on a four-post lift inside the motor-themed Quaker Steak & Lube in Rapid City.

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