A Barn Find Chevy Chevelle Finds New Life Thanks to a Father-Son Duo

It can be a bit of a nerve-wracking experience turning a wrench for the first time. Everything is entirely foreign, and there’s always the possibility of something going a bit wrong. In reality, though, everyone has to start somewhere.

Whether it’s doing maintenance on an old classic car with our dads or on a 90s tuner car we’ve been lusting after since we were young, things tend to start simple enough. Once we gain more experience and confidence, then we can begin to tackle some of the more challenging jobs.

With that in mind, a rusty 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu barn find has been sitting outside, undriven for over 24 years, and is about as intimidating as it gets for even the most experienced of mechanics. Nick from the YouTube channel AutoTechNick is working with his son, Trevor, to restore this classic muscle car and teach him some mechanical fundamentals along the way.

The Story Of This Chevrolet Chevelle Barn Find Is About Continuing A Family Legacy

1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Barn Find Project Fast Facts

  • Nick first started working on cars with his father and wants to do the same with his teenage son, Trevor
  • The father-son duo plan to work on the Chevelle for a few years, hopefully in time for Trevor to use it as his first car
  • Trevor has never worked on any car before and Nick wants to use the project as a learning experience
  • Nick picked up the Chevelle for a bargain $3,800 – around 90% less than the average used value
  • This Chevelle was owned by a single family from new until it was abandoned outside in 1999

The story behind this build is a rather intriguing and wholesome one. The same family has owned it since it was purchased from the dealership in 1972 and has been handed down two generations, with Nick managing to pick up the car for only $3,800.

Although the car is in rough shape, Nick has a great deal of experience – working as a master technician for Ferrari and BMW for over 20 years. While Nick’s professional career has been primarily focused on European performance cars, his first-ever project was a 1952 Chevrolet 3100 pickup truck, which he still owns to this day.

Nick and his father picked up the Chevy truck, which had been sitting undriven for over 20 years, as a project car while he was still in his early teens. The pair spent around three years fully restoring the truck, with the plan always for Nick to use it as his first vehicle.

With his son, Trevor, now a similar age, Nick is taking him down the same route by working together to restore this classic muscle car to use as Trevor’s first car – hopefully completing it by the time Trevor is old enough to drive. This is Trevor’s first time working on any car, though, and this 1972 Chevelle is in such rough shape it’s going to provide one steep learning curve.

This Chevelle Malibu Isn’t Powerful, But It Is Nearly Completely Original

1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu 350 Twin-Carb Specifications

Engine 350 cu-in (5.7-liter) naturally aspirated V8
Transmission 3-speed Turbo-Fire Hydra-matic (automatic)
Drivetrain Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Power 165 hp
Torque 280 lb-ft
Average Used Value $44,204

(specifications provided by automobile-catalog, chevyhardcore, classic.com)

The car itself is a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu 350 with a 3-speed Turbo-Fire Hydra-matic transmission and factory air-conditioning. 1972 was the last production year for the second-generation Chevelle before a complete re-design in 1973.

As the name suggests, this Chevelle Malibu has a 350 cu-in (5.7-liter) small block V8 with a two-barrel carburetor producing 165 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels. The car has an indicated 47,000 miles on the odometer, but Nick does say that the engine was rebuilt after 100,000 miles, and the car has likely done close to 150,000 miles in total.

For Nick, An Original Foundation Was The Most Important Factor

  • Nick says that originality is the main thing that drew him to this particular Chevelle, with virtually every part remaining unaltered from the factory.
  • Unfortunately, the car has been sitting outside, undriven, since 1999, and the weather has taken a severe toll.
  • However, Nick remains optimistic and says that despite the significant rust problems and general wear and tear, he would prefer to repair an original but worn car over a heavily altered, unoriginal car.

How Bad Is The Condition Of This Chevelle Barn Find?

1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Barn Find Condition

  • Nearly every panel is covered in rust
  • Most of the floor and rear exterior panels will need to be replaced
  • The chassis is still strong, despite surface rust
  • The interior is in rough shape, too, but the transmission tunnel doesn’t appear to have deep rust

From the outset, it’s clear that the bodywork on this Chevelle is in pretty terrible condition. Most of the paintwork has faded away, and a layer of surface rust covers nearly every panel, with some visible deeper rust eating away some of the sheet metal.

Starting at the top, Nick points out that this Chevelle used to be a vinyl-top car at one point, but the roof is now bare, rust-covered metal, with some holes starting to form. The car is also suffering from pitting on the sail panels and rust damage on the rear quarter panel. The front fenders are also completely rotted, with the metal trim on the side of the car also too far gone. Replacement trim is hard to find, so Nick is unsure if they will try to source replacements or not.

Fortunately, the chassis seems to have avoided any terminal damage, with all the cross-bracing on the underside and the rockers in good condition with only minor surface rust. Nick says he can get away with patch panels for some less severe areas, like the doors, but the rear end will get a complete replacement from the roof seam backward. The interior isn’t in great shape, either, with no carpet, headliner, very few interior panels, and completely shredded seats.

Nick Starts The Teaching Process As Work On The Chevy Begins

A white and rusted Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu 350 barn find engine bay
via AutoTechNick (YT)

The first thing Nick shows Trevor is the engine bay and where to find all the fluids and dipsticks. The Chevelle does have a small amount of oil, transmission fluid, and brake fluid left, but Nick isn’t planning to work on the motor until they have a better picture of what work needs to be done.

One area the father and son pair haven’t been able to inspect is the trunk, as the lock is completely broken. Inside, the rust has eaten away at the trunk floor, and Nick decides it will need replacing, like most of the floor. The trunk lid itself is salvageable, though, and Trevor uses a thread chaser to get the rust out of the hinges so they can bolt it back on with replacement bolts.

This Chevelle Is A Relatively Cheap Learning Experience For Trevor

A white and rusted Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu 350 barn find
via AutoTechNick (YT)

Pricing

Trim Avg Market Price New MSRP
1972 Chevrolet Chevelle $44,410 $2,923

(data provided by classic.com and J.D. Power)

Understandably, Nick doesn’t want to overwhelm Trevor and is starting off with some of the basics. While there is certainly a lot to do, Nick did only spend $3,800 for this Chevelle, which is still a steal. Values for 1972 Chevrolet Chevelles sit at around $44,410, according to classic.com, and can go up to $165,000 for immaculate examples.

This Chevy will require years of work before it gets close to that level, but Nick is planning for a long-term project – with the hope that the car will be ready by the time Trevor is old enough to drive. Next up for the father-son duo is to try to get the motor running and take it for a test drive.

Source: automobile-catalog, chevyhardcore, classic.com, J.D. Power

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