OPGI Employee Car Spotlight: 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle

It is time to take a look at yet another Original Parts Group Inc. (OPGI) employee–owned GM classic car. This clean 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle belongs to OPGI Showroom Representative Jeff Miller. Working in OPGI headquarters’ showroom, Jeff gets plenty of face time with the public and is well-known to many of our local customers. However, what most of our customers probably do not realize is that they are actually far more familiar with Jeff’s car than they are with Jeff himself. The reason? Jeff’s Chevelle has been viewed by more people, in more places, than any other car associated with the OPGI brand. To find out why this particular Chevelle has enjoyed this level of attention, we have to travel back to the beginning of Mr. Miller’s ownership.

Jeff purchased the 1971 Chevelle from the original owner in El Monte, California back in 2001. Jeff planned to use the car as his daily driver at the time, and had plans to “fix it up” with OPGI parts over time. For the first two years of ownership, Jeff just drove his car, and didn’t work on it much. At the time the car was green with a green vinyl roof.

Realizing the potential beneficial use of Jeff’s car as a rolling test bed for many of the company’s fine Chevelle products, OPGI’s management approached Jeff with the idea of using his car to complete various technical articles in conjunction with the most popular Chevrolet-oriented magazines and websites at the time. The first of those articles appeared in Super Chevy magazine back in 2003, where Jeff’s Chevelle was fitted with a new suspension system utilizing parts from the OPGI Chevelle catalog. Still wearing its original green paint, the Chevelle appeared in both “before” and “after” photos to display the new suspension setup.

After a few more years of daily driver duty, Jeff was approached by Jim Holloway (of Mothers Waxes & Polishes) with the premise that Mothers wanted to use Jeff’s car to shoot an infomercial. Jeff was told that his car might receive “some extra parts and goodies” in the process. The plan sounded good and when Jeff dropped his car off and picked up a rental car at Mothers’ HQ in Huntington Beach, he told the crew “Just do whatever you want to it.” Little did Jeff know at the time just how important those words would eventually become. That’s because the premise of “shooting Mothers wax infomercials with the Chevelle” was a complete fabrication.

One week later Jeff returned to Mothers to retrieve his car and take a look at a screening of the “infomercial” it appeared in. Jeff was a bit thrown off when he couldn’t find his car anywhere on the premises. His green Chevelle was nowhere to be found. There was a beautiful ’71 Chevelle on display in the shop area, but that was not Jeff’s car – or so he thought.

As you might have guessed by now, Jeff was tricked into leaving his car for a full week of rebuilding and restoration by none other than Chip Foose and his Overhaulin’ TV show team. Jeff’s car was subjected to a complete custom transformation in just one week as the Overhaulin’ crew shot what would become the very first episode of that very successful TV show. The original notes from that first episode revealed the extent of the “trick” when they included this entry: “Jeff works the counter at Original Parts Group in Huntington Beach, CA. Jeff has a rather ratty ’71 Chevelle. The team, led by Chip Foose is ready to turn this ratty rod into a rad rod, but they need to get the car from Jeff, first.”

And that is how Jeff’s “rather ratty ’71 Chevelle” became an instant TV star. In just one week the Foose Team rebuilt, reworked and repainted just about every inch of Jeff’s car. As an Overhaulin’ star, the Chevelle became a radical custom classic car in just 7 days, and as a result, has been viewed over time by an audience of millions thanks to the extensive television coverage the show enjoys.

Following its debut on Overhaulin’, Jeff’s Chevelle was campaigned across the country by the Mothers crew who employed it in the 2004 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. Given its new radical custom appearance thanks to the Overhaulin’ overhaul, Jeff’s Chevelle has been seen by even more people on the Web, at the SEMA Show and in numerous other car shows as well as a host of various product advertisements and commercials. The ultimate testament to the fame of Jeff’s 1971 Chevelle might be the fact that in 2006 the car was reproduced in two different sizes of die-cast miniatures. You know your car has really “arrived” when you can buy toy versions of it!

Today, the car still appears at selected car shows and Jeff still drives it to work at OPGI occasionally, but not very often – as it has become just too famous and too valuable to risk as an everyday driver.

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Posted in Car Spotlights, Chevy, Events & Appearances, Industry News, Pontiac