Straight Axle Chevelle – Lou Lafon’s Street Survivor
Lou Lafon has owned this straight axle Chevelle for 46 years. Lou’s 1969 gasser-style, straight axle Chevelle looks exactly as it did nearly five decades ago. In fact, the car has never even been washed since the flames were put down in 1970. It’s an absolute survivor.
There are plenty of other period-correct details that still remain as well. Bill Ganahl and his team at South City Rod & Custom went through the entire car replacing and freshening all that was there in it’s Street Survivor trim. They re-fabbed the entire front suspension with a new straight axle, leaf springs, mounts and any other worn out items with exactly what the Chevy had when Lou got his hands on it so many years ago. All of this was rechromed for some serious brightwork. The new inner fender panels were also splatter painted to match the engine compartment. The front of the frame was also remade adding new age strength.
The 396c.i.V8 was rebuilt at South City in 2016 but you wouldn’t know it just by glancing at it. The old-school Mickey Thompson valve covers have been retained, of course, and Lou did his best to keep the car exactly as it was when he picked it up. He wouldn’t have touched it unless he had to, but after nearly 50 years the motor, along with the suspension, just needed to be updated.
Out of the four speed, all that torque finds its way to a 12-bolt Posi limited-slip differential with 3.55:1 gears which further add to the fun factor of this awesome time machine. From there the power is finally delivered to the new/old 15×10-inch Cragar SS wheels out back which are wrapped in meaty Firestone F70 Pro-Track tires.
All the rubber out back dwarfs the skinny six inch wide Cragar wheels in front, between which you’ll also find that sweet polished straight axle and leaf springs.
Having owned the car for as long as he has, this is far from the first time it’s gotten some attention. In fact, it’s been a cover car on more than one occasion. In the July 1975 issue of Hot Rod Magazine it was the cover car with Lou’s matching flamed Sanger flat bottom back in the day. As you can see below, Chevy Hi-Performance did a follow up feature of the freshened straight axle Chevelle in their July 2017 issue.
Also, check out the scale version of the car that was produced in a very limited run; when Lou found out, he had to pick up a handful.
Fresh off the work completed by South City Rod & Custom we wanted to go and have a good look at the car ourselves. And the closer we looked, the more impressed we were.
The interior is immaculate and appears as period correct as the rest of the car, although you’ll notice there’s a USB cable coming out the bottom of the dash for the sake of practicality. The steering wheel has been re-wrapped and the seats appear to be like new, but none of the charm from the early 70s is gone. South City specializes in legacy cars like this straight axle Chevelle. Further, they rebuilt the windshield wiper motor, realigned the door and quarter glass with new seals and all of the sheet metal was rehung and realigned.
Any time a survivor like this comes up on the radar today it’s just that much better fifty years after the fact. We just don’t have styling like this anymore and the aesthetic simply can’t be applied on newer cars. Can you imagine a flamed 2018 Chevy Malibu? We can’t either.
There’s just so much right with Lou’s ‘69 Chevelle. We hope it looks exactly the same in 2069.