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Emerald City – 1971 Chevelle

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GM Scene Magazine®

Chad Sargent's 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle

Car builders hardly ever choose to build a random vehicle—it just almost never happens. Most enthusiasts select a vehicle that is special for one reason or another to invest their time and money into. For some, picking a project car is solely based on personal preferences. For others, the decision can boil down to something more substantial. At the end of the day, there is always a story behind every build, no matter how in-depth its modifications list runs. Recently, Chad Sargent of Justin, Texas filled us in on the details surrounding his killer 1971 Chevelle. To be expected, there were dedicated motives related to why he chose to first track down then build this exact year, make and model, and he was willing and ready to tell us all about them.

“The Chevelle has been a dream car of mine since I was young”, Chad states. “I had an obsession to feel and understand what it would’ve been like to cruise in a muscle car back in the late 60’s to late 70’s. I wanted to hear the sounds and relate to the feelings that my father, Tom, describes from his experience racing from Fort Worth on the DFW Turnpike (now known as I30) back in the day.”

While Chad’s father is responsible for instilling the excitement of vintage, rumbling Chevy muscle into his heart, Tom is also responsible for leading Chad to his affinity for ’71 models specifically. “My father and I went to a classic car show on Camp Bowie West Blvd in West Fort Worth one afternoon when I was young, and I was drawn to what I thought was a 1971 Chevelle”, Chad shares. “I pulled my dad towards the orange car, and we walked around it several times. My dad is the one who told me it was a ’71, but as I got old enough and began researching them, it turns out that the car I was so infatuated with was actually a 1970—not a 1971. I went ahead and stuck with building a ’71 for two reasons—the first because of this story. The second is due to ‘70 Chevelles being so much more sought after—for me it makes the ’71 and ’72 year models more unique.”

The time to seek out the perfect project car has never been more important to him, but finding a decent Chevelle at an affordable price isn’t the easiest feat to accomplish. “I had almost given up finding the right starter car in my budget”, Chad says. “One day, I got a notification on my phone alerting me that there was one or sale only 30 miles away that was in good condition and had the green interior that I was praying for. More importantly, I could afford it. The only catch was that the owner requested that I not turn around and flip it for a profit the very next day, which I could’ve easily done. I shook his hand and told him that I would be into this car for the long haul.”

To kick the project into high gear, Chad utilized the talented hands at Pro Touring Texas to box and brace his Chevelle’s factory frame. Next, the chassis was outfitted with Ride Tech coil-overs and Fox single adjustable shocks all around, ATS spindles up front, and a Quick Performance 9-inch rear end. Since the long-term game plan for the car included adding a heavy dose of muscle under the hood, Chad made sure to preface those performancemods with premium braking power. Baer Pro+ 14-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers, along with a Detroit Speed master cylinder and brake booster have made theirway onto each corner of the Chevelle. Also making an appearance on the car’s upgraded chassis is a set of 18×10 and 18×12 Rocket Attack wheels that have beenwrapped in Nitto NT555 G2 rubber.

The engine upgrade that Chad had in mind for his Chevelle was something far newer and more competitive that will come in handy when heading out to road course tracks. His selection was a 2022 Chevy LSX unit from Don Hardy Race Cars that has been decked out with a 2.9L Whipple supercharger, as well as other notable bolt-on performance products such as Air Flow Research CNC ported heads, an aluminum radiator from DeWitts, long tube headers, a custom 4-inch powdercoated air intake featuring a K&N filter element, as well as a handmade exhaust system by Pro Touring Texas that utilizes Stainless Bros individual bends and mufflers to top it off. Once the dust settled, Chad’s Chevelle was soon equipped with 780hp, as well as a much more responsive suspension system to harness that impressive pony count.

For the Chevelle’s outwardly appearance, Chad already had a vision in place that he wanted to see played out. He had a vision to keep things looking as clean and classic as possible, and as far as the paint color, he had that pre-selected since before the construction process even began. “I just had to have the car painted green”, he says. “When I was young, my father and I rebuilt a 1969 IMP Deep V inboard-outboard boat that had a unique green interior that I fell in love with. I really wanted to pay respect to our first project together and add something from that project into this car.”

Chad was stoked on finding a project car already equipped with a well-preserved original green interior, but it still had to be properly spruced up. To get thatball rolling, Chad and his dad replaced the factory items that were in desperate need of retiring—specifically the seats, door panels and carpeting. Other modern inclusions inside the car come in the form of Dynamat insulation, Dakota Digital RTX gauges, Vintage Air climate control, and a Forever Sharp steering wheel. “I do plan to have a full interior space professionally done in the future, but for now it works for me”, Chad admits.

A total of 4 years has been invested into bringing Chad’s prized ’71 Chevelle to where it currently is. While the car does look and perform great, there is still a lot more to be done. “I would like to thank my father Tom Sargent for the help. It has been great to work together on such a meaningful project”, says Chad. “Also, I’d like to thank the entire team at Pro Touring Texas for helping bring it to life. Even though there are several things I would have done differently along the way, I must stop and remember to trust the process and understand that it pays to do things right the first time, even if that adds money and time to the build. There are no mistakes, just lessons to be learned.”

GM Scene Magazine®