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Hagerty Employee

What If? 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Rockingham 454

Welcome to What If, a new feature from imaginative illustrator Abimelec Arellano and Hagerty. We'll be taking you back in time-and possibly forward into the future-to meet alternative-universe automobiles. Even better, our time machine is working well enough to bring "short take" reviews along with the photographs and advertisements.

Dang it! Here in "The Best Damn Garage In Florida," we were working on a Chevy Nova with some Corvette parts glued (well, pop-riveted, actually) on it. See, NASCAR says that the body parts must be factory original, so we are just following their rules. The LS6 in our car was massaged a little so that it produces about ten more horses that it had when we got it (nod, nod, wink, wink.) Now that you buy a Rockingham, I guess we'll just take it out and sink it so the tarpon will have a place to hide...

But the burble from the big block is music. And as the man said, music is best.

You can’t fix it if it were not broken. 

#1 the nose on this car would begin to generate lift at 90 mph snd hour. 

the Mopar nose was in a more down attitude. 

Second the roof and deck lid look like parts added from JC Whitney. 

Third in this era the 70 Monte Carlo was what some teams used in limited numbers sun Chevy really was limited in racing. Bobby Allison in his Coke care. JR Johnson fielded Chevys as did Cecile Gordon and Co Co Marlin. 
The Monte had a longer nose and longer wheel base and was a better race car.


Note this nose is similar to a 84 Fiero in shape. It generated close to 800 pounds of lift at over 95 mph. I know I have one. An air dam and vented hood fixed the issue. The air in the radiator makes for a large high pressure area and the steering did get lighter.


Sorry I work in the racing industry and many of these what ifs are just not well done. 



Pit Crew

Whatever, I'd still buy it in green.

Part of the problem with being an expert in any field is that you find yourself facepalming when you read anything about that field. Abimelec's work is deliberately fantastical -- who was thinking about vortex generators in 1970?

Make you a deal. If you come up with a realistic What If? I will put you in touch with Abimelec to illustrate it...

Jack I am not trying to troll here. It is not just this web site but a number web sites are tying to do this what if stuff. Sadly most fall short. It is not a bad reflection on the artist but not everyone can design a car well. Just look at some on the roads and many from local customizers to even some factory models fall short. Not everyone is a Dick Dean, Kindig, Foose or or Harley Earl. 


In fact I blame much of the retro stuff on companies not willing to take risk due to the lack of really good stylist today. It is not easy to be a stylist with all todays regulations even with talent. 


To be honest I would not want a to submit anything to someone who would do this to a Chevelle. 

 My favorite styled body is a 250 Lusso. It is a great example where less is more. 


My idea of building a Chevy is not to make it look like a Mopar. Nor would I put Corvette tail lamps on a Superbird. 


If I were to do this car I would lower it. Pro Touring style with large tires all the way around under the body. Cowl injection hood. Remove the Vortex crap and cheap spoiler. In fact remove all the door handles and emblems.  Even a slight lower lowered roof. Then no graphics. 


The nose on my 72 GMC Sprint SP had a black grill so I got extra head lamp buckets and removed the emblems. I then made tinted plexi covers to go over the lamps to black out the entire nose with smooth clean black between the corner lamps. It had a clean bumper but I would have like to narrow it and make it more flush to the body in the color of the vehicle. 


I admit I have some great ideas in my mind but no talent to put them to paper. 


I have succeeded in building a number of cars that have held up over time. Many cars don't pass the sniff test after ten years. Look at many built in the 80's today and people see them thinking what some were thinking. It was the era of excess. I think that is why so many traditional coupes and high boys hold up well as they were not over done. 


I would like to see this car with an aero nose but something more GM or original. 


FYI Smokey Yunick was thinking Vortex Generators in 1967. The Chevelle he had used them till NASCAR pulled them off in tech. 

Actually one race he did not cut the fenders and just flared them out over the tires. Qualified then cut them so he could change the tires. 

Art is interpretive and so is styling. Show someone a Expensive French painting and one may see art and another may see naked drunk French girls. Not all see things the same. 


I have a friend that sell sounds as art. He makes a lot of money doing it. He also keeps a straight face doing it. 





You make a great point: nobody was trying to do fake artist concept cars in previous decades, because there were always so many gorgeous new cars in real life. Today it's all high-roof trash or garage queens for the high-net-worth set. Just looking at the care taken in styling an Omni 024 makes me sad now. Who would take the risk to do a car like that in 2022? And who would buy it it they did?

Jack no one was doing these concepts back in the day as there were no home computers making artist of people who can’t draw. 

The truth is back in the day not all cars were 11 seconds and not all were great looking either. Each era has its winners and losers. 

We have had some great looking cars but society has rejected them for utility. While regulations have driven people to utility they still made the choice. Yes two box models are not always interesting but some are not as bad as others. 

As for what is great and what is crap is very subjective. And not always permanent. Take the Superbird and Daytona. They were rejected because people thought them ugly and weird. Today $6 figures and people drool over them. 

Ferrari GTO was at one time just an old used up race car that was not, noisy and expensive to fix. Nick Mason bought his cheap because no one wanted it. Today it is the most valuable car in the world. 

Not every Ferrari is a master piece. There are some very ugly Ferrari’s out there. Bangle BMW’s are not inspiring any new trends and have the soul of a Caravan. 

The cold harsh truth is the world is made up of people who are all very different. Some the only taste they have is in their mouths. We can survive them as long as they never get in charge or are removed once the approve an Aztek. 




hyperv6: I wonder if you're overthinking the exercise. I think the whole column is just an excuse to visualize an imaginary concept and stretch some literary chops. Revelatory, repugnant or anywhere in between I always enjoy them. I hope you'll take Jack up on his offer to get your ideas to the illustrator. My money says you'd describe something remarkable if reality can be kept at bay.

Not over thinking just not a fan of this new what if trend.

I appreciate Jack’s offer but my ideas go to my car not to something I will never do. 

Some folks like fiction and others non fiction. Count me in the latter with some history. 

I am glad you like this kind of thing and I can respect that. But please respect that it fails to move my needle. 

Even when I bought Hot Wheels I bought the race cars and the stock based custom cars over the odd dream cars. just the way I am. 


Point taken. But with all the thought you put into discrediting the "Rockingham" it seemed you had some interest.


The truth is being a true car guy has always had a bit of full disclosure honesty about it. 


Long before a web existed we said what we though about a car like it or not. That is what I am doing here on this new trend of what if cars. 

This what if car trend is something that is growing and many of the ideas posted are just not good. This Chevelle was on more than one site as are some others. The other day someone did a six wheel Camaro that no one would never be built and two was totally pointless. 


My interest is in keeping it real. If it is good call it but if it is bad be honest. 


We are all here to share out thoughts and if I said I liked this I would be lying. 


For the record I hated neon lights under the car, Convoluted tubing in many colors under a hood, florescent wipers, Lambo doors on cars that are not Lambos, Cars with too many graphics. Wheels that do not fit a car well and  interiors painted like someone threw up Crayola's  and cars where people should have stopped adding things 10 things ago. 


Life it too short to accept bad ideas  when there are much better out there. There are even more of these I have spoken out against on other web sites. 


That is just me. I don't expect everyone to agree but I'm not going to say I love it when I don't. 





This one might be a little bit out of the target zone - but how about a 4th gen Regal with 2 doors, longitudinal engine, RWD, turbo and aftercooler... I say this because it has always been one of my wish list projects i'll likely never get around to... one of the photos has to be a front-wheels-off-the-ground launch

It's kind of like Star Trek where it works best if you don't think too hard about the science... like how you can instantly accelerate to 20x the speed of light without splattering the crew against the bulkeads...
Intermediate Driver

"...astounded by the barbaric yawp of its “aero” front end." "barbaric yawp"? Quoting Walt Whitman in a publication dedicated to automobiles is not something one expects. PS - It was also used in the movie "Dead Poets Society", a more appropriate vehicle.

I'd argue an LS6 454 qualifies for more quasi-erotic superlatives than anything Whitman or Ginsburg experienced in real life...

You had me at "absolute distillation of raunch"

That sounds like it is about a fraternity house, not a vehicle. Please, give me more.
Advanced Driver

I lived in Detroit for a short time, but long enough to know who Lester Bangs was, and how unpopular he was with musicians. His brother (or perhaps, less-literate cousin) Chester apparently did the same hatchet job on cars in this fantasy.

As to the writing, I liked it. The car, not so much.
Advanced Driver

And now we know why the hapless Spaniel is such a lousy test driver. Like father, like son. 🤕
Advanced Driver

That is one ugly Chevelle. It reminds me of a girl that I used to date. I missed that bullet, and fortunately I would have had the smarts to miss this bullet as well.

There is not an engine, hp, or torque number that could coax me into this one.
Advanced Driver

It is HUMOR, people - relax and have some fun!!!

? "ticky-tacky" ? =8-) .

I love this car .


The black one looks right nice.

I got the point. Don't let the fun-killers win.

While I was amused at your Spinning Rock take, I'm surprised you didn't go Uncle Tom McCahill?

I'm catching up on these during lunch, maybe I just haven't read it yet...