Cherished Memories – Randall Campbell’s 1971 Chevelle SS
For many owners of original vintage muscle cars, tracing the vehicle’s lineage is a circular search that often runs dry at some point. For Randall Campbell, documenting the previous ownership of his 1971 Chevelle SS 454 was easy. Older brother Neil bought the car new from Steakley Brothers Chevrolet in Waco, Texas.
Randall was lucky enough as a youngster to accompany his brother to the dealership to pick up the new Chevelle. “I remember him squealing the tires as we pulled away from the dealership,” Randall says. “What a sweet ride it was.”
The correct, numbers-matching Chevelle has been in the family ever since. The 365-horsepower 454c.i. big block has an automatic transmission, column shifter, factory air conditioning, functioning cowl-induction hood, power disc brakes, front and rear sway bars, and bench seat. Also, a relatively rare option, an AM/FM radio with an eight-track cassette player.
The story of Randall’s SS continued when his father assumed ownership in 1973. Randall was able to drive the SS during his high school years. After graduating in 1981, he joined the Air Force and his father transferred ownership of the ’71 to him in 1982.
At that time, with no money to pay for a professional paint job, Randall did what he calls a “beat it to fit and paint it to match rattle can restoration” of the car.
In 1990, the Air Force shipped Randall overseas. With that deployment and other moves, the Chevelle sat for 13 years in a small barn that he and his brother built just for the car. After retiring from the Air Force in 2001, he settled in Iowa Park. He then pulled the SS out of storage and began a full rotisserie restoration, mostly by himself, that took until 2019.
“I know every inch and deal of the car,” he says. “It has been meticulously restored to factory specifications.” That includes fresh paint (Nevada Silver with black stripes) by Greg Ciuba’s Paint and Body in Wichita Falls. Becky’s Interiors, also in Wichita Falls, performed the upholstery restoration.
Randall’s wife Roni also has a personal history with the Chevelle. The couple went on their first date in the car back in 1981. About that same time one of her rings fell into a dash vent. In 2017 during the restoration process Randall found the ruby ring. “Her ring was stored for 35 years in the heater box!” Randall says.
That sort of history that makes this much more than just a car to Randall; it’s a family heirloom. “Driving it makes me feel closer to my brothers and sister,” he says, “not to mention like I’m 16 again!”
Photos by John Jackson