For those fortunate enough to have experienced it firsthand, there's really no way to easily surmise what it was like to cruise Firestone Boulevard and hang out at Harvey's Broiler back when "real" cruising was in and, well, Harvey's was Harvey's. While I wasn't fortunate enough to be one of those individuals, I did have the opportunity to get a small taste of that amazing little piece of Americana, albeit during the drive-in's final era, when it was known as Johnie's Broiler, shortly before it became a used car lot. (The landmark almost met its maker a couple years ago, but thanks to the efforts from the community, namely our friend Kevin Preciado's "Coalition to Save and Rebuild Harvey's Broiler", it was saved!) While it may be difficult to describe in words what it was like hanging out at Harvey's, the Clock in Bellflower, the Wich Stand, or any other hang-out hot spot for that matter, Bryan Barnes found a way to interpret his memories of cruising to Harvey's with his cousin back in the day: a '65 Chevelle.
"When my family moved up to Northern California, I was really homesick for the L.A. car scene, so I began the search for something to build and, ultimately, came across this Chevelle. The owner of it at the time was more of a muscle car guy, and the car really reflected that. Shortly after acquiring it, I purchased a new set of wheels, but unfortunately, the guy who mounted the tires didn't bother tightening the lug nuts. From the tire shop I was headed to the Pomona Swap Meet, but about 10 miles down the freeway, the car suddenly dropped on one side in the rear-as it began doing a series of 360s, I saw one of my new wheels pass me by! Amazingly, I didn't hit anyone and the Chevelle went backward down an embankment, stopping when the quarter-panel hit a tree. When I got the car towed home and finally saw how much damage had been done, I decided it was time to build my 'Harvey's Front Row' car.
"After disassembly, it was off to the strippers. When taken down to bare metal, I was able to see how cancerous the thing had become under all those coats of paint that had been applied over the years-it was bad! My best friend, Dave Baker, suggested that I use the guys who had worked with him on his '50 Merc Goldrush. Those "guys" were Ben York and his crew at Roseville Rod & Custom. They worked some magic with welding in of the patch panels and fabricating pieces for the areas that no one made replacements for. With the body off the frame, I rebuilt the entire frontend and detailed the frame while awaiting the engine that Speed-O-Motive was building for the car.
"Next door to Roseville Rod & Custom is a painter by the name of Jason Haskins. I had already seen his work on Dave's Merc and decided to go ahead and have him paint the Chevelle. Paul Garland and Chris Barnes-employees of Jason's-must have blocked the car for days, because the panels and body lines were laser straight. The yellow was what I was after, but the roof still needed something more. It was about that time I saw some of Donnie Baird's (Imperial Customs) work, and knew right then he was the guy who could-and would-take the car to the next level.
"Donnie put the crowning touch on the '65 with an unbelievable 'flake and lace job. Finally I had what I'd only imagined up until that point. When he called and said the car was finished, I was anxious-but when I actually saw what he'd done with the top, I was knocked out! It was like 1968 all over again. When I sat in the Chevelle, I was headed to Harvey's! Now if I could only find a time machine..."