Fabrication Showcase: Sharon’s Chevelle Gets A Custom Front Bumper, Exhaust System and More

Everyone at RideTech is proud to work for a company that makes great suspension products. But, we are even more proud to work for a company that can build trophy-winning street machines and race cars as showcases for our great products. It’s really cool to watch our parts come to life in the form of custom-built cars. For example, with the help of friends, we built an entire Camaro in just eight days (eight six hour shifts) last month. Also, Chris Smith and the crew at Smitty’s Custom Automotive are running at wide open throttle to finish the new Track 1 Camaro in time for the fast-approaching race season.

…and then there’s Sharon’s Chevelle. This project is progressing at a more conservative pace. While the 48 Hour Camaro used 100% bolt-on parts, the Chevelle features countless hand-fabricated touches — literally from bumper to bumper. We’re building this very special car to drive, but also to show. 

In this update, we are showcasing the front sheetmetal including the fenders and the front bumper, in particular. In raw form, the front bumper appears to be carved from a solid block of steel. In fact, it has been expertly hand sculpted from sheetmetal for a modern appearance. More work is being done at the front of the car. For example, the filler panel between the grille and the bumper is on deck for modification as is the radiator mounting.

Underneath, the Chevelle’s exhaust system has been hand-fabricated from the header collectors to the tailpipes using Borla stainless steel mufflers, flex joints, and one-off hand fabricated hangars.  The entire stainless steel system will be polished. There is a little more work to do on the exhaust system, but as is the case with the entire car, the progress is really coming into focus.

 

It is difficult to fully appreciate how much fabrication has gone into this Chevelle’s front bumper. Not shown here is the accompanying hand-fabricated front spoiler. We’re saving that for a future update.
The sides of the front front bumper blend nicely with the modified front fenders for a more modern, streamlined  appearance. Note the surface rust on the front bumper. It was actually one of the very first parts to be modified on this project and has been in storage for a while.
Up close, you can get a sense of just how much sculpting has been done on the front bumper. Very little of the original metal remains. Of course, the filler panel between the bumper and grille is stock and has yet to be modified.
One of the nice things about building a Chevelle is that there is plenty of room for full tailpipes with clearance to spare.  These pipes are a work of art with great symmetry and curves galore. They will connect to the aft tailpipes and one-off exhaust tips that pass through the rear bumper.
The aft tailpipes will run along either side of the gas tank. For maximum clearance and to tuck everything up behind the rear bumper, we made our own aluminum gas tank — from scratch.
Flex joints isolate the majority of the exhaust system from engine vibration. As you might expect with curved head pipes, we are running shorty headers for maximum ground clearance.
Here’s another shot of those same head pipes installed on the car. They tuck up nicely for maximum ground clearance. The design cleans up the side profile of the car as nothing will hang below the rocker panels.
These days, top custom car builders are using Rapid Prototyping technology to build parts like this exhaust hanger.  While we have that capability, we often prefer to use good ol’ fashioned hand-fabrication and ingenuity as shown here. Mufflers are stainless steel S-types from Borla.
For a car of this caliber, it helps to build the exhaust early on in the process well before final body work and paint. Here, the suspension is complete. The Chevelle is running a complete Shockwave air suspension system with RidePRO-HP electronics.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the pipe/silencer closest to you is polished while the other pipe is shown in raw form. Despite being hidden under the car, the exhaust system will really sparkle once all of the polishing stages are complete.
The RideTech body shop employs two highly skilled craftsmen — Kurt Blackgrove and Dennis Niehaus. Their directive is to build one show-quality car at a time. Most recently, they painted the new 48 Hour Camaro and before that, they built the Goodguys G/RS 1969 Camaro.

 

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