From $300 Rustbucket to Tire-Shredding Dream Ride: The Malibeast Chevelle Saga

Nowadays, when it comes to classic muscle cars, many enthusiasts seem mesmerized by high-powered versions of the first-generation Ford Mustang. This is backed up by the huge number of restored or restomodded ‘Stangs that you can see all over the world wide web. Moreover, four of the five most expensive classic muscle cars ever auctioned off are all Mustangs.

But, the original muscle car era gave birth to many other amazing rides that have fascinated multiple generations of gearheads.

I’m a fan of the Mustang too, mainly the 1967 Shelby GT500, but if I were to pick my dream muscle car, it would go down to either the 1970 Buick GSX or its GM A-body platform-sharing sibling from the same model year, the LS6-powered Chevy Chevelle SS.

Though not as glamorous nor as popular as the Mustang, the second-generation Chevelle produced from 1967 to 1972 continues to be the dream muscle car for the young and aging enthusiasts that haven’t caught the Mustang bug.

The $300 rustbucket

The Chevy Chevelle Before it Became Malibeast

Photo: Ben Kahan via YouTube Screenshot

 

One of these enthusiasts is Daniel “Danny” Swan, who has been fascinated by the Chevelle for as long as he can remember. While most nineties kids had posters of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, or Dodge Vipers on their bedroom wall, Danny’s dream ride was a 1969 Chevelle.

As an 11-year-old, he took over his brother’s paper route, and one day, he spotted a beat-up Chevelle rusting away under a tarp. Upon closer inspection, the car proved to be a 1969 model, so Danny was instantly hooked. He returned home, took the $300 he saved delivering newspapers, and convinced his dad to help him buy it.

Unlike other parents who would try to convince their kid that spending all of his hard-earned money on a piece of junk was a bad idea, Mr. Swan – who was also a muscle car enthusiast who once owned a 1969 Chevelle – agreed to help and, in no time, 11-year-old Danny was the proud owner of his dream car.

A project that took over two decades to complete

Chevy Chevelle "Malibeast"

Photo: Ben Kahan via YouTube Screenshot

 

The Swan family was by no means rich, but that didn’t discourage young Danny from pursuing his dream of restoring the old rustbucket to its former glory.

He spent the next seven years saving money and learning everything he needed to know about his beloved ride. Danny started working on the car when he was 17, but as an average enthusiast with limited funds, he was forced to take small steps. Armed with patience and an inextinguishable passion for his Chevelle, Danny spent the following years diligently restoring the old car’s body, sourcing salvageable parts from junkyards, and slowly but surely bringing his dream ride back to life.

The determined enthusiast wanted to keep the Chevelle as stock-looking as possible but also equip it with modern parts to enhance its driveability. It took him about 22 years to complete the project, but judging by the result and the huge smile that arises on his face every time he gets behind the wheel, it was well worth it.

A classy restomod like few others

Chevy Chevelle "Malibeast"

Photo: Ben Kahan via YouTube Screenshot

 

Finished a couple of years ago, the once-busted-up clunker that Danny purchased when he was 11 is now an absolutely stunning restomod that he nicknamed Malibeast.

On the outside, the meticulous attention to detail that went into retaining the 1969 Chevelle’s stock looks is evident. Unlike other restomods, the original badges, chrome trims, and even the original bumpers have are all in place.

The only modern exterior items of the Malibeast are the retro-styled Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels, the disc brakes behind them, and the badass paint job. The latter is based on the OEM 2012 Camaro/Corvette Ashen Gray Metallic but with a black primer undercoat that darkens the paint to the point where it looks darker than the original paint.

The same retro formula was used for the interior. It retains the stock look and blends it with several modern components like a Billet Specialties steering wheel, a custom shifter, and a set of Dakota Digital gauges.

While there are plenty of Chevelle restomods out there that are levels above on the wow scale, Danny’s commitment to keeping his car stock-looking by employing subtle mods makes it remarkably classy.

A car that lives up to its nickname

Chevy Chevelle "Malibeast"

Photo: Ben Kahan via YouTube Screenshot

 

The Chevelle’s rebuilt chassis also received its fair share of modern hardware. I already mentioned the brakes, which use contemporary calipers that hug drilled and slotted discs, but Danny also opted for a better suspension system. Despite this, he maintained the classic muscle car stance with a higher-raised rear axle.

For the heart of his beloved project car, the self-thought builder replaced the stock engine with something more modern, reliable, and powerful.

Danny went for a 6.0-liter LS that he sourced from a junkyard. He had the block restored and equipped with forged internals, the heads ported and polished, then a Boost District TVS 2650 supercharger was bolted on top.

Though the package is capable of much more, Danny settled for a streetable tune that makes 585 hp and a massive 640 lb-ft (867 Nm) of torque – figures still fitting for the Malibeast nickname.

Danny Swan and his Malibeast

Photo: Ben Kahan via YouTube Screenshot

 

Mated to a rebuilt T56 six-speed manual with Corvette servos and LS shafts, the engine sounds addictively menacing and performs flawlessly when cruising or when its proud owner wants to have some fun.

Since finishing the build, Danny has racked up over 10,000 miles (16,093 km) on the odometer, driving it as often as possible.

The Malibeast might not be an award-winning restomod, but it’s a classy one with an unrivaled story. It’s the perfect example of what can happen if you never give up on your dreams.

For more information about this car and an interview with Danny Swan, I recommend watching the YouTube video by Ben Kahan, which made this article possible

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