Like the majority of classic car enthusiasts, Vince Tripoli fell in love with cars at an early age. He has vivid memories of several automobiles from his childhood, most notably his father’s copper-and-cream 1956 Chevy, which he restored and still owns. Vince was drawn to 1960s and ’70s muscle cars in high school, and began tinkering with small engines with the hope that one day he might work on cars. That dream came true in 1983, when Vince took on his first overall body restoration – a 1974 Chevy K-5 Blazer that became his daily driver for several years. The longtime police officer (1978-99) has since restored many cars, including a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am Gold special edition, ’72 Chevelle SS, ’47 Chevy, ’56 Chevy, ’36 Chevy, ’86 Grand National and two ’65 Mustangs. Vince, who now works as a private investigator, is currently restoring a 1964½ Mustang for his wife, Patti. Of all his cars, he is especially fond of his 1970 Chevelle SS.
Vehicle: 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
Why did you choose a 1970 Chevelle SS? My brother Tom has a yellow ‘70 Chevelle. We both just really like that body style. I would take any year Chevelle over any other muscle car out there.
What’s the story behind the car? I found the car in Petaluma, Calif., six years ago and had it shipped to New York. It’s the second frame-off restoration I’ve ever done. I stripped every inch of that car and found no rust whatsoever. The small block was blown, so one of my police buddies gave me a 1974 454. I took it to Skip Bloss in Kirkville, N.Y., and he turned it into a screaming 4-bolt main 600hp 496. The best of everything is in that motor – Scat crank, H beam rods, forged Scat Pistons, Edlebrock cam, lifters, manifold, a complete March billet aluminum alternator, water pump, power steering pump, brackets, Canton oil pan (8 quarts) and more.
The M-22 4-speed in my car was expertly crafted at Syracuse Auto Gear. The original 12-bolt 3.73:1 rear end was rebuilt by Frey the Wheelman in Syracuse. That’s the end of the outsourcing. Every inch of this car was done by my hand, and I had the help of my good friends Mike Rothman, Chuck Swanson, George Blumer, Tim Usitinski, Tim Tuttle, Jake Hall and many other guys.
I painted this car in Glasurit, and I still remember Chuck Swanson and I putting more than 24 hours into perfectly laying out the SS stripes. It was originally Adobe Beige with black stripes and a dark saddle interior, but I couldn’t stand the color scheme so I painted it in Mitsubishi Sunset Pearlescent paint with black stripes. J&T Auto in Syracuse bent over backward to help me with materials. I bought an interior at PUI interiors and converted everything to black.
Favorite Drive: My wife and I cruise whenever we can. My favorite drive is when I let the 600 horses out of the barn and she complains that the seat G-force hurts her back. The aggravation is really worth it – and so is the G-force.
Best and Worst Moments: The best moment is yet to come… I’m still dialing in the engine. The worst moment was when I had to re-strip the body and repaint the car. I just won’t settle for anything short of perfection.