Buried In A Garage: 1969 Yenko/SC Chevelle

Can you imagine the rush of opening the doors of this junk-filled garage to discover one of the most desirable and sought-after Chevelles ever built? Well, Rick Nelson and his fiance Annie Hartweg recently had the chance to find out what it will feel like after they received a phone call about a Chevelle that had been parked in this garage for the past 47 years. The couple runs a restoration shop in Illinois and initially received the call from the family that inherited the car about helping them find a buyer for it. Having a long history with Yenko cars, Annie had to have the car. When they got the garage, here is what they found. Not a hopeful first sight, but things get better real quick!

Images Courtesy of Hot Rod.

Once they cleared all the junk blocking the car in, they were able to get it out in the daylight and boy is it a glorious sight! It’s definitely a project that is going to need some work, but its a real deal Yenko! The story from the owner’s family is that shortly after getting this Super Car, Joe went out for a drink and to shoot some pool. When he went to leave, he discovered his car was gone. He reported it stolen and two weeks later it was found by the police with front-end damage. It was towed to this garage where he pulled it apart with plans of fixing it.

As things go, Joe never got around to putting his rare and valuable Chevelle back together, so it has remained in the garage ever since. While the damage is a major bummer and there’s likely more to the story, it’s what has kept this Chevelle around and with such low miles. The odometer is showing just 19k miles, but given that the engine is in pieces it may not matter much at this point. With so many parts scattered in and around the garage, I would have been a bit worried about missing parts. Rick believes everything is here for it except for the transmission, which he’s already trying to track down. Many of the front-end parts are also missing, but replacing them shouldn’t be too difficult.

Once they got the car to their shop, they set about cleaning it up and it sounds like it was a bit of a mess. On the upside, it isn’t too rusty and should be a fairly straightforward project to take on. They plan on getting it back into tip-top shape with as many original parts as they can. It should prove to be an interesting project to follow and we wish them the best with it! If you’d like to read more of the details, you can find the full story here on Hot Rod.


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  1. slickb

    Now this is a barn find!!!!!!!!
    I really want it.

    Like 2
    • Rick Nelson

      Many of the “Barn Find” stories that we read about are staged to make the story sound better. This one was NOT staged and what you see is exactly how I found it. If time had been on my side I would have had it professionally video taped but HAD to get that car out of there immediately for obvious reasons.

      Like 2
      • Josh Mortensen Staff

        Good to hear from you Rick! I hope you will keep us posted on your progress with it!

        Like 1
  2. Dj Fluffinutter

    What an awesome find such an amazing car.

  3. grant

    This. Hell ya! They’re still out there.

  4. Gunner

    Wow. What a great story of a great and rare car. It never ceases to amaze me of the rare and desirable cars that continue to surface. Anything that says Yenko can park itself in my garage, and I am a Mopar guy! ;-)

  5. Steven G

    Does this chevelle have a 396/4 speed in the car

    • Bob

      There is no way to know without measuring the bore, all the engine parts were identical, with the exception of the pistons, the bore, and possibly the front damper. Yenko made both, the 427, and the 375 HP 396.
      I believe the production numbers are 28, 427, 425 horse, and 8, 396, 375 horse engines.
      The front damper on my 427 is larger than the lower rated engines, to balance out the heavier forged pistons.
      According to my 1969 Nickey Chevrolet book, the 8 inch damper part number for both engines is the same. The Chevrolet parts book does show different part numbers for the two engines.

      The ZL-1 engine is different again.

      • Rick Nelson

        Since this started life as a COPO iron block 427/425 and was coded MQ, it is the original born with and with the stamped VIN on the engine. Yenko super tuned them to 450 hp specs.

    • diehardchevy

      No this was an aluminum 427,4sp. I believe the article depicts this.

      • david lee

        Not an aluminum 427. They were only used in the 69 Camaros and one or two Vettes. The blocks were not painted, just bare aluminum.

      • Rick Nelson

        Here is the actual iron 427 block complete with the cars VIN stamped on it and the MQ code.

        Like 3
    • Richard Ochoa

      Who Cares? I say Scrap Iron!!!!!

  6. Rod K

    This is what dreams are made of and what keeps us looking.

    Like 1
  7. Classic Steel

    Now the question is did they pay a fare price or steal it like the prior person 😜

    Definitely great that he got the block and heads and spare engine parts making this a six figure product soon 👀🤠

    • Rick Nelson

      Everyone is so hung up on what the purchase price was. We indeed paid fair market value for the car and at a price the owner came up with after much research. I actually told him what I felt the car was worth as is BEFORE I ever even considered buying it.

      Like 4
  8. Jason G.

    WOW…. Dream come true. A true barn find. I would love to help restore it. Enjoy

  9. Davis

    So, what is the car on the left, under the blue milk case and plywood? Ford Thunderbird? Impala?

    • JamestownMike

      Looks like a late 80’s or early 90’s Ford Thunderbird…….but who cares!

      • Tim S. Member

        The Yenko is more to my taste, but the T-Bird is more to my budget.

      • Metoo

        Good eye. And like you said, who cares?

      • Metoo

        If it is a T-Bird, and I believe you are right, the garage owner might give it away in exchange for cleaning out that toxic waste dump of a garage.

      • r s

        The Yenko is on the right side of the garage. you can only see the fender tip.

    • Rick Nelson

      It was an 87 Ford Thunderbird and nothing special at all.

  10. Derek F

    I wonder why they disassembled a 19k engine?

    Cool story.

    • darrun

      I can only imagine how someone would treat a car like this if they were ruthless enough to steal it. They probably did more damage in the first few miles than the original owner did in the 19000 that he was fortunate enough to have experienced in a Muscle car Icon. Two weeks certainly would have been enough time to trash an engine/

  11. Brandon

    Sounds more like Joe, went out for that drink in the car, after some rounds and pool, wrecked it on his way home. Then left it, went home, and reported it stolen lol found in 2 weeks with some front end damage. Mmhmmm.

    Like 1
    • Bob

      I have mixed emotions about your proposed solution to the mystery. I have seen this attempted a couple of times because of the hazards on the narrow road I live on. The cops got the individual both times. One one occasion, I was a witness to them finding the driver, because I happened to hear the bang and went out to have a look. The driver was as pissed as a newt, and was carted off in the back seat of the cruiser for a nice rest.
      The first question was, why didn’t you report the car stolen. Hmmmmm. Have you been drinking? How did you get that cut on your arm. Is that the same blood I am going pull off the seat?
      We had better go to the station to sort this out.

  12. Coventrycat

    Glad it wasn’t another Grand National. Great story.

  13. KKW

    Nothing about this makes any sense. So, the car was only two years old when wrecked? Why was it towed to this garage? Why not to a repair shop? Surely it must have been insured. At 19,000 miles, why is the motor in pieces? Why is the transmission missing? The questions could go on and on. Lol.

    Like 2
    • Metoo

      Maybe the owner had dreams of restoring it and pulled the engine out in his yard. But alas, the shade tree blew down in a storm and he could not put it back in.


    • Rick Nelson

      Too long of a story to type here. If you knew the owner and how he lived it would make sense. Not a single thing we found in that garage was left untouched and everything had been torn apart. Motorcycles as well as the Thunderbird. The transmission was installed in his 1970 Chevelle SS and was later stolen out of that car. There is nothing fishy about the car or the story and none of it was fabricated or embellished, only facts which were backed up by the family.

      Like 1
      • Miguel

        People have to remember how much it would have cost to fully insure a car like this back then.

  14. scottymac

    Finally! A garage that makes mine look good!

    Like 1
    • Metoo

      That seems unimaginable.

  15. JamestownMike

    Why not say what you paid for it?? Not that it has any bearing on what it’s worth or what the new buyer will take for it! That’s a seriously cool and ultra rare car! 1 of 99…….and only a dozen this color!

    • Steve R

      I’ll tell my buddies that buy and sell things what I pay for an item, but never a stranger or casual acquaintance. It’s none of their business. The people that are most aggressive in their attempts to find out what you paid will give you a hard time if they think you got a good deal and will then try to low ball you with an offer, even though they would have made the same deal if they were in a position to buy the car.

      Steve R

      Like 1
    • Howard

      The buyer is not obligated to tell anyone what he paid for the car, and if he wishes not to then that makes it no one’s business.

      Like 2

    cool story bro

  17. Bob

    One of the iconic cars and brands of the era. It will be wonderful to see this car restored. It looks like the major pieces are there, but it will still probably be an expensive rebuild. It will just be a matter of finding the properly dated parts. It was fairly common for someone not familiar with these high performance cars, to over rev them and swallow a valve or toss a rod, and I hope that isn’t what happened with this engine.
    I have a 68 counter exchange 425 hp 427, that I pulled because I was afraid of breaking something. It is a wicked, fun to drive engine, but trashing something on the 454 I am now using, would not break the bank to repair.
    Whoever restores the car, will get all the money back. I am happy to see another very special car get a new life.

  18. Hans L

    Wow. Great find!! I’ve met Rick and Annie at their shop. Great couple. Rick has restored some parts for my ’69Z. His team does phenomenal authentic restoration work!! Can’t wait to see the Yenko restored! It will be amazing.

    Like 1
  19. Comet

    I live in an agricultural, rural area. I have wished to myself countless times, if only someone made glasses that could see through old barns… Great find! It gives us all hope.

  20. On and On On and On Member

    Great find. Would be nice to know how this plays out.

  21. John M.

    Nothing is better than a story with a happy ending. I wish the shop owner and his employees all the best as they restore this piece of America automotive history back to it’s former glory.

  22. Dave M

    It’s this kind of find that keeps us all looking!! Great car, great story!!

    Like 1
  23. Metoo

    Great find. “find” being the key word here. Once it was out and sort of cleaned up it looks pretty nice. But I hope their tetanus shots were up to date when they were digging it out of the astounding pile of…….well, you know, that it was buried beneath.

  24. Barzini

    It’s early to make this statement but this will have to go down as one the greatest finds of the year.

  25. GP Member

    I read the story online a couple days ago. Great find, great car. As other commenters have asked, 19,000 miles and engine apart ? In the write up online it said it took 5 people(Rick, Jim, Shannon, Wife Lisa and son Zack ) nearly a day and a half to see and walk around it. Working almost full time. I’m sorry, but It’s not that big of a garage. I don’t think I could afford to hire that team to do anything.

    • Rick Nelson

      The original owner took everything he owned apart. After he crashed it he disassembled most of the car and never finished it. Hard to believe? Most all of us have done it before. As for the day and a half it took to pull the car out, it was an archeological find of sorts and great care had to be taken to not lose or damage anything as well as document it. Not to mention all the garbage that was found piled everywhere. That all had to be removed before we could get to the car. Even then we had to shore up the roof trusses before pulling the car out. Why is that so hard to believe?????

      Like 2
      • Bob

        I don’t have any problem at all believing the story. To me, it would be nearly impossible to “build” a mess like that. Good luck on the build.

        Like 1
      • GP Member

        From the first picture I see, There Isn’t anything even close to the roof of the car. And NO I have never taken apart anything like this and never put it back together. At 59 I believe I could of moved everything and had the car out by myself in a day and a half, so no I don’t believe it. You can see what’s behind it, the car is what 6 or 7 feet wide.

      • BMW4RunninTundra

        Why are you wasting your time on these “fools”?!?! You know what you have, what it took to get it, and what you are going to do with it. I think you have done more than enough and been beyond kind in sharing the story. MOST are so happy for your find!!! Please don’t waste your time with the constant _ _ _ _ _ _ ‘s and put that effort in restoring this awesome piece of history!!
        Thank you!!!

        Like 2
  26. David Hunt

    Yea, I had a 67 as small block vet motored Chevelle convertible that had never been beat in a street race. But does it have a HEMI.? Not

  27. Troy s

    All of Yenko’s street/strip cars were bad to the bone screamers with some decent cosmetics to make them stand out, but not too overdone. 427 Nova SC was really over the top and few were built, but the Chevelle is my favorite. I have always liked all Chevelle’s, owned only one, and any 427 chevelle is top on my list be it one of these dealer specials or a COPO that avoided the “dealer treatment”. Great find here.👌

  28. KKW

    Whoop whoop The big talkers are coming out now, must be a full moon. Lol.

  29. Troy s

    The worst part of this story is that this car, built to cream every goat, 442, big bird, or cobra snake has sat in mere obscurity for forty seven whole long years, wasting away in some garage and treated like a pile of junk! More big talk, but the truth it is brother!

    • KKW

      Yeah, sure.

    • Miguel

      Well yes, but because it did sit there so long, we will be able to see it back to original condition in 2018 or 2019.

      I can’t remember when I saw the last one.

      Like 1
      • Troy s

        That’s completely true, we will see it again in its originality, probably all we are going to get too. Too valuable now to drive or even show at the local level. Just my opinion on a waste of machinery.

  30. Rob M.

    All I can say is WOW!

  31. gaspumpchas

    Rick, thanks for sharing your story, What you paid for it is no ones business but yours. Being in the business, you have seen it all.it will be fun getting all the correct parts for the car and bringing it back to its former glory. Would like to follow progress on this beauty. Good Luck!


    Like 2
  32. JaguarE

    Posting stories like this online give me major heartburn because this car is not for sale so that I can buy it. There should be a rule, only cars that are for sale can be posted. This is a severe jerking. That is like going into a candy store and I cannot buy or eat any candy. What a downer!!!! This is the Holy Grail!!!! Only thing better would be a 1969 Yenko Camaro.

  33. louden

    This one is a shocker. Why? I worked at a steel mill with a guy that has one stored in his moms garage since 1970 in NW indiana. He bought it right out of high school in 1969 and for some reason he parked it all these years.He still had it last i heard in 2010 and told me it got a mouse in headliner, but other than than, untouched. He also has a Tunnel Ram for it from Yenko, that he never put on.


    rick,,, don’t sweat it ….. the world is full of negative people.. doesn’t matter what you say or how you show it, they will try to beat you down.. it makes them feel good and builds up their self esteem.. you couldn’t turn them positive if you wired their ass with 220……….

    Like 2
  35. mike D

    I am sure everything has been checked out, but, once it has been ” stolen” and in this case crashed.. isn’t it a “salvage” car??

  36. Rick Nelson

    Not when you are the one that crashed it, never reported it and then left it for 47 years. They did not have salvage titles back then besides the fact that this one was not damaged enough to be considered totaled anyway.

    • KKW

      As I said in a previous comment, this isn’t making sense. The story above says he reported the car stolen and it was found two weeks later with front end damage. Now you say the owner wrecked it himself, and never reported it. Seems to be conflicting stories.

      • Rick Nelson

        KKW, read the whole story in Muscle Car Review next month or on our Facebook page and it WILL make sense. There are always doubters. Same thing last month with the Black Mariah LS6 story. People always want to call it a fake or fabricated story.

  37. Rick Nelson

    Thanks for the welcome Josh. I will be posting regular updates on my webpage http://www.musclecarrestorationanddesign.com as well as my Facebook page under the same name. It will be undergoing a complete nut and bolt concours restoration just like our customer’s receive. Unfortunately due to our current backlog of restorations and the book I am co-authoring I have very limited time and will only be able to work on the car nights and weekends. We hope to debut the restoration at the 2019 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Chicago. Hope you can make it.

    • rmward194 Member

      Thank you for posting a link to your website. I just bookmarked it and look forward to seeing how the project progresses on this awesome find! All the best.

      Like 2
  38. don

    not buying the 19k miles, to many holes in this story.

  39. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    GREAT FIND Rick,
    Ignore the naysayers… most of them have never dealt with anything like this……. and can’t comprehend that many similar finds actually exist, just waiting for daylight…….. and they have no clue how much time it takes to extract the car and parts without missing anything, while under the watchful eye of the homeowner, and all the ” look at this ” comments as parts are ‘discovered’ amongst the trash.

    Like 2
  40. Jay. E. Member

    Thanks for sharing, ignore the haters. You have something great, my second favorite car of the era. It might be my first, but I never drove one back in the day.

  41. Pete

    I have no doubt that the story is true, I can also believe that it took a day and a half to remove it especially if you were super careful. If you look at my garage it is filled with all manor of stuff that I carefully and haphazardly set in it. I know how I put it all in there it would take me most of a day to get it all out so I could see the floor again.

    I know what Rick paid for it, Less than your gonna pay for it after all is said and done. We will see that car sell for probably $150,000 or more I bet after she is done.

    Also what possibly could be achieved by lying about how it was found and how long it took to remove it from the garage? Yeah absolutely nothing. The car will be valued for what it is and the condition it is in when it hits the block. The story with it is just a cool ad on like fuzzy dice. Not worth anything more unless it belonged to Elvis. I think some of you are just peanut butter and jealous. LOL

    Like 2
  42. Rick Nelson

    You do? I didn’t think I had told ANYBODY what I paid for it. Hmmm, well let’s keep it that way though a moot point since its not going anywhere.

    As for the $150k, we have been offered a lot more than that for it (as it sat). Some things in Annie’s and my life are just more important than money so it will be staying with us. Oh I cannot wait to hear from all the keyboard worriers with their opinions now. LMAO!

    Like 2
  43. 57chevy

    Keep that Piecer! Scrap Iron to me & many I know!

  44. Bob

    More power to you, Rick.

    Like 1
  45. Alan (Michigan) Member

    Funny how a normally friendly forum can wig out when something comes to the pages which is not just extraordinary, it is astounding!

    I was lucky enough to have a ’69 SS396 back in the early 70’s, so the Chevelles from that era hold a special place for me, and this year is #1. I got mine with a bad motor, out of the car, near Peoria. Lived in Quincy when I redid it. I’d have to liquidate the retirement assets to get into a car like this, so that will never happen. My wife would commit a murder, mine! I’ll get over to the story about the car eventually, but just seeing it here is enough for now. I’m grinning about what it will be like to hear fire breathing through the exhaust again after 50 years of silence. Oh Yaz!

    Great find, Rick, I hope that you and Annie get a ton of enjoyment out of the car, and make a chunk of change when and if you ever sell it. Hope to see you at the Woodward Dream Cruise some year. I’d bet that GM would be happy to have a car like this one (finished and running, heh….) parked at one of the company displays.

    Like 1
    • Rick Nelson

      Thanks Alan, much appreciated!

      Like 1
  46. James

    So, people on here b**** when it doesn’t look like a barn find and then b**** when you have a legit one? I visit this site to look at cool cars. If I wanted drama, I’d watch more TV. Keep of the good work, BF!

    Like 2
  47. Rick Nelson

    The Chevelle has come a long ways in a very short period of time and no expense spared restoration including a set of impossible to find original F70x15 GoodYear Wide Tread GT tires. The car will be shown at the Pittsburg World of Wheels show Feb 8-10 as a rolling body/chassis similar to the photo below. Look for a body and paint feature in the April issue (comes out in March) of Muscle Car Review.

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member


      The car is on display right now, eh?
      Too far for me to travel to see it, but post some pictures if you don’t mind, of the car in it’s spot at the show.

      Great Job.

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