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Old 05-07-2007, 08:11 AM
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Default Sam Griffith's 1969 L78 Chevelle...WOW!

’69 Malibu Chevelle SS L78 4 Speed

I have owned this Super Sport for a little over a year and it came with good documentation, but I hadn’t talked to the original owner. Over the past year, I established a virtual relationship with him through mail, phone calls, and email and on St. Patrick’s Day this year my son and I met with him at his home in Roanoke, Virginia.

It became very obvious to me from my earliest contact with Wayne that he really enjoys talking about his old ride. He was a wealth of information on the history of his old ride and always had a twinkle in his eye when he was reliving the adventures he had with his Chevelle.


Wayne was twenty years old and living in Roanoke when he bought his first new car. He had a good job working in the maintenance department at the local General Electric plant. He had been saving his money for some time to buy a high performance car so he could race at the local tracks and on the street. There were a lot of muscle cars in town and Wayne was itchin’ to become a part of the scene. To get the best deal on his Chevelle he traveled 30 minutes south of home to the small town of Rocky Mount, Virginia. Although Roanoke had a Chevy dealership, he made his best deal at Wickline Chevrolet Corp. in Rocky Mount. Wayne was very proud of the deal he struck: $3300.00 even, with no trade in. He placed his order on Saturday, the 8th of March with his salesman, Hoover Potter. Prior to placing his order, Wayne considered the other HiPo offerings of the day from MoPar and Ford. He recalled that a Hemi Superbee was in contention, but the best deal was $400 more than the Chevelle, and therefore, “no-go”. A friend, who Wayne looked up to, was an avid bowtie racer and told him about the minimally advertised potent solid lifter Chevy “RAT” motors. That was all Wayne needed to know.


He ordered his car as follows:
* SS 396 Equipment
* “375 engine” (L78)
* 4-speed Transmission (“Close Ratio”)
* Positraction Axle
* 3.73 Rear Axle Ratio
* Special Instrumentation
* Vinyl Trim
* Undercoat
* Tinted Glass
* Door Edge Guards
* Remote Control Side View Mirror
* Rear Speaker
* AM Push Button Radio


He selected black paint and a red vinyl bench seat interior. His father had a ’66 Ford Custom Cab pick up in the same color scheme and Wayne had always liked it. Wayne’s father also influenced him in selecting a remote controlled side view mirror as he felt it was a practical safety consideration.


Wayne has told me on more than one occasion how the number “13” played a prominent role in the ownership of his Chevelle.


* Down payment was $1300
* It took 13 weeks from placing the order to delivery (remember there was a strike at the Baltimore plant in ‘69)
* Wayne was 13 days shy of 21 years old when he took delivery
* Last two digits of his license plate were “13”
* The oil filter he used was a Fram PH-13
* Chevelle was delivered to Wayne on Friday, June 13th.
I asked Wayne with all the references to the number 13, did he have any bad luck with the car. He laughed, “It was bad luck for everyone I raced.”


Speaking of racing, Wayne found plenty of time to race both on and off road. He has plenty of street racing stories he’ll gladly tell you, including burying the needle “straight down” in an extended race with a ’70 Hemi Charger when he still was still running his “3.73s”. Off road he raced at tracks in Virginia including Elk Creek, Waynesboro, and his favorite, New London Drag Strip and in North Carolina at Piedmont. Wayne's best E/T was 12.83 seconds at 108 m.p.h. He accomplished this with Hedman headers, 4.88 gears, and 29.5 tall M&H Racemaster slicks (9 or 10 wide) mounted on 8x15” steel rims. He made no mods to the suspension, but was very careful in monitoring and adjusting tire pressure. He was very particular with regard to tuning too. One thing Wayne recalls is setting the total advance to 48 degrees. He also performed some minor mods to the engine including a 3-angle valve job on the heads, adding extra valve springs and equalizing spring pressure with shims. Wayne really liked the 4.88 gears and was devout about shifting at 6,000 rpm. He felt it was the right gear for the taller tires. He recalled that the 4.88s resulted in 6200 rpm through the lights. Wayne can remember being told off by a few race fans for not running his car harder. Wayne had seen too many guys “blow their engines” because of undisciplined driving practices. He stuck to his guns, still had impressive E/Ts, AND managed to hold onto the original engine and drivetrain.


Wayne remembers one race event in particular. His first cousin and her boyfriend joined him and his wife at the New London Drag Strip. Just prior to the beginning of eliminations, his cousin came up to Wayne in his Chevelle and said, I have two nickels. Put them in your pocket for good luck . Wayne tucked them in his pocket. He went on to win his class at the event. He knew he had to commemorate the event so he glued the nickels to the top of the Class Winner trophy (Note: coins on the trophy have been inspected and are validated as original and application/date code correct. The coin on the left is dated 1965 and the one on the right is 1963 ).


This 06A Baltimore built Super Sport has 31,800 original miles and still wears its original lacquer paint on its original sheet metal. It retains its original engine, transmission, and rear axle. The trunk and interior are original. The exhaust pipes and mufflers are also original to this car. Original documentation includes the Protect-O-Plate, dealer invoice, dealer order form, dealer sales receipt, initial title, cancelled check for original purchase, two IBM trim cards, first state registration, sales brochure, first and second vehicle safety inspection certificates, first license plates, keys, multiple photographs and slides, time slips, drag racing trophies, and various other paperwork. Wayne has an extensive collection of over 300 original slides of his old ride. His father was a serious amateur photographer and saw the benefit of shooting most of his pictures with slide film and using a decent camera. For the day, the resolution of slide negatives was superior to standard photograph negatives. Standby for more vintage photos within the next couple months as Wayne continues to sift through his collection. One of them is a picture of his salesman, Hoover Potter, shaking his hand while handing him the keys on the day he took delivery of his new Chevelle.


When I asked Wayne what his fondest memory of his car was (thanks for the suggestion Bruce ), he had two answers. The first answer, he said while laughing, had to do with the “fun” he had with his wife The second answer was the pride he took in snagging the “Class Winner” trophy at New London in a hard fought victory with his wife and cousin cheering him on.


My plans for the Chevelle are to correct some minor deficiencies (fasteners, finishes, & parts) and remove and restore the exhaust system (mufflers are in nice condition, but pipes were coated with a preservative and need some work). I will be returning the SS to its day-two “as raced” look by adding period correct Hedman headers, 15” Cragar S/Ss up front, and out back 8 x 15” steelies with M&H racing slicks. If anyone has a lead on any of these items I would appreciate it.


More photos of the Chevelle can be found at: http://rides.webshots.com/album/548126523DhvprT
and:
http://rides.webshots.com/album/548120177WKsHRu


I’ve also included a short video with sound (below) to give you an idea of what an L78 with an original exhaust system sounds like:



Thanks,
Sam (aka Mockingbird812)











































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