1971 Chevelle Malibu RESTORATION TIMELINE:


November 5, 2002:


I decided to move the Malibu down from storage into the work bay today.  I’ll begin working on the resto soon, starting with body/chassis separation and reconditioning of the chassis.  Here’s the theory behind my restoration plans:  To turn this plain-Jane Malibu into a Pro-Touring, G-Machine style canyon carver.  In order to accomplish this, many aftermarket parts will be utilized in place of stock components.  An upgrade to larger front spindles, BAER drilled & slotted 4-wheel disc brakes, 17” aluminum wheels, Hotchkis rear suspension, Global West tubular upper & lower A-Arms & coil-over shocks on front suspension, Richmond 6-speed transmission, custom designed Autometer dash assembly and Recaro-style bucket seats are among just a few of the planned mods.  First things first however, as the body needs to be assessed (specifically the condition of the rear quarter panels, and whether or not they need replacement or just repair) and the chassis needs to be stripped & reconditioned. 


November 13, 2002:


I ordered a body rotisserie today, from Accessible Systems, Inc. in Tennessee.  This will be a great tool for this restoration and many more to come.  With large pneumatic tires and caster wheels, it will maneuver easily over the shop floor and outside too.  Attached to the firewall and rear body, the entire shell (with chassis removed) is easily rotated 360-degrees allowing full access to the underside.  Sandblasting, rust repair and painting the underside of the car will be a breeze.  A stripped frame can also be attached to the rotisserie for thorough sandblasting and painting. 


November 19, 2002:


Major parts orders placed yesterday from Moser Engineering (12-bolt rear w/3.08 gears & Eaton Posi), Global West (Tubular Upper & Lower A-Arms), BAER (complete 13” disc brake system w/B-body spindles), TireRack (BFG G-Force T/A KD tires) and Jeg’s (wheels, locking lug nut kit, QA-1 coil-over shock conversion kit, QA-1 rear shocks, Hotchkis boxed lower rear control arms & support braces).  I already have boxed, adjustable Hotchkis upper rear control arms left over from my ’72 SS restoration, new-in-box.  Rear springs will be ordered at a later date.  I need to assess ride height before buying the rear springs.


November 26, 2002:


Parts have been coming like it’s Christmas!  A portion of the Global West order has arrived (upper A-Arms), the Moser 12-bolt housing & axles, Hotchkis stuff, QA-1 conversion kit, Torqy II’s & two of the four BFG tires are all here.  I couldn’t wait to see the wheel/tire combo, so one of the rear BFG’s was mounted onto the 17x9.5 Torq-Thrust II wheels today.  WOW…..that is one cool looking, WIDE tire!  I have located several powder coating companies around New England.  I think I have narrowed it down to Berkshire Custom Coatings in Pittsfield, Mass.  They have quoted $125-$150 for the frame sandblasting, and $400 for the powder coating portion.  A glossy black finish can be done, no problem.  So, after the rotisserie arrives, I can separate the shell, strip the chassis, and truck it on down to Massachusetts. 


November 29, 2002:


Today I assembled the body rotisserie from Accessible Systems, Inc. out of Tennessee.  With instructions written for an earlier design of this rotisserie, things went together kind of slowly, but I managed to figure it out.  Pictures are in the Body Mounting & Bodywork section of my site.  I’ve got a short connector bar installed at the bottom to make the unit shorter until I need to use it.  It also makes the unit easier to maneuver around when not in use. 


December 14, 2002:


My younger brother Scott, along with my friend Richard, started in Saturday morning to separate the body from the chassis.  Things went along quite nicely and in no time, the chassis was rolled outside, leaving the body hanging from the four arms of the shop lift.  I spent the next couple of hours designing a temporary set of caster wheels so the body could be stored off site.  Unfortunately, the design was too flimsy and the structure collapsed as we started rolling the body across the floor.  We bolted the body onto my new rotisserie instead.  This car’s underbody is in great shape, much better than my ’72 SS which had major rot requiring full floor pan replacement panels, as well as a full trunk restoration.  From what I could see, this car only needs a small repair in the floorboard where the drivers feet go, rear wheelhouse/trunk floor repair, and a few pinholes under the rear seat.  The sheet metal around the bottom of the rear window opening is rotted, requiring some fabrication or splicing in of a donor section.  I still have not assessed the condition of the rear quarter panels.  The car body will have to stay here at the shop for the time being.  I’m going to try stripping the chassis down to the frame by the end of the month so it can be delivered to the powder coater in Massachusetts.  New pictures on the “Before Restoration” and “Body Mounting & Bodywork” sections of the site.


December 21, 2002:


Starting Friday night after work, I put the rolling chassis onto the shop lift and began removing the following items:  fuel & brake lines, cross member, center link, tie rods, idler arm, steering box, front wheels, spindle/brake assemblies, springs & upper a-arms.  On Saturday, I finished the removal of the lower a-arms, rear axle, rear suspension, and engine mount stands.  By noon on Saturday, the frame was complete stripped and moved up to my parents’ garage for a few body mount repairs.  It will be delivered to the powder coating company in Massachusetts within two weeks.  All the removed items were put into storage in my parents’ barn.  New pictures are on the “Before Restoration” page on this site.  To date, I have received my upper Global West a-arms, BAER brake kit, Moser rear axle, and all the suspension parts with the exception of the lower Global West tubular a-arms.  They said that the parts would be shipped by now…..


December 27, 2002:


I played “hooky” from work today in order to perform two frame rust repairs on the Chevelle.  The two forward body mount holes are susceptible to rusting and my frame was no exception.  The holes were still intact, however they were much larger than the correct size hole due to 31 years of age.  I sanded away all the rust on the top of the frame around the holes using a 3M mini sanding disc and my right angle die grinder.  I then fabricated 3/16” steel plates that fit the contour of the frame and welded them on with my mig welder.  Using a GM maintenance manual from 1971, I verified the distances between body mounting holes and marked, punched, and drilled a new correct size hole in each plate.  The frame is now ready to head to the powder coater (perhaps this Friday) in Massachusetts. 


January 2, 2003:


Happy New Year everyone!  The frame is strapped down to my snowmobile trailer and I’m scheduled to push off at 6AM tomorrow morning for Berkshire Custom Coatings.  Hope the snowstorm shows up later in the day, after I’m already back home!


January 3, 2002:


It’s there!  Should be finished in two weeks.


January 20, 2003:


The frame was finished on time and picked up today.  I was awestruck at the beautiful job done by Berkshire Custom Coating, Inc. in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  They are professionals like none other I’ve met.  Pictures of the finished frame are in the CHASSIS, SUSPENSION & BRAKES section of my site.  Enjoy!


January 26, 2003:


Today I began putting the first of several coats of POR-15 and Chassis Coat black paint on my new Moser 12-Bolt Posi rear axle.  Moser ships their axles bare, so I thought POR-15 would be a great alternative to powder coating the housing.  Powder coating the housing would have meant I needed to gut the housing, and I didn’t want to un-do all of Moser’s set up.  After the housing is finished & dry, I can begin assembling the rear axle & suspension onto my frame.  Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for my lower tubular A-arms from Global West.  I have called repeatedly, and gotten a song & dance each time. 


February 9, 2003:


Today I installed all four of the front A-Arms.  The tubular Global West pieces slid right into place with no trouble at all.  GW installed Del-A-Lum bushings, which are greaseable.  Next comes the QA-1 coil-over shock kit and BAER spindle assembly with the brake rotor & caliper already installed.  I will probably tackle that later in the week, or over the upcoming holiday weekend. 


February 15, 2003:


This morning I installed the following front suspension parts:  QA-1 shocks, QA-1 coil over springs, BAER “loaded” spindle with Eradi-Speed brake system.  In total, I probably spent around an hour and fifteen minutes to install the parts on both sides!   These parts are beyond beautiful….and everything fits perfectly.  After installing, I attempted to bolt on my front wheels & tires, but encountered difficulty installing my lug nuts.  I ordered 7/16-20 nuts, but they don’t want to thread onto to the studs.  I even took the retainer nut (used for shipping only, to keep the rotor tight) up to the hardware store but couldn’t find any SAE or metric bolt, fine or coarse, that would fit it.  I’m baffled!  A call to BAER on Monday is in order, to ask them what size studs these are.  Pictures are up on the site, under Chassis, Suspension & Brakes section.


February 16, 2003:


I fought with the installation of the massive HOTCHKIS front sway bar today.  What should have taken only about 15 minutes turned into a two hour odyssey!  I even managed to cross-thread the holes in the frame (my worst fear) but was able to restore them with a tap.  Finally, the bracket bolts went in straight and the bar was mounted.  End links went in like butter, and mate up to the Global West lower a-arms beautifully.  Now it’s off to the TV to watch the Daytona 500. 


February 17, 2003:


Today I put the final coat of POR-15 chassis-coat on my Moser axle, then installed my lower and upper rear Hotchkis control arms.  Support braces were also installed.  The support braces are now adjustable (very trick) and will allow for minor lengthening or shortening to accommodate different tolerances.  More pictures on the Chassis, Suspension & Brakes section. 


February 20, 2003:


The Moser 12-bolt rear axle was installed today, with the Hotchkis adjustable upper and fixed lower control arms.  Hotchkis support braces tying the upper and lower front mounting bolts together were already installed.  Hotchkis lowering springs, new rubber isolators, and QA-1 shocks were also installed.  So far, all these parts have been going together flawlessly!


February 22, 2003:


This morning, I tackled the install of the rear axle shafts, BAER Tracker rear disc brake system, and the Hotchkis rear sway bar.  Most everything went together smoothly, however I have discovered that the QA-1 shocks have too long of a travel.  When they are fully extended, the rear coil springs are loose and in danger of falling out.  Shorter shocks should solve the problem.  I also encountered a problem with the caliper mounting of the BEAR rear brakes.  There appears to be insufficient clearance between the caliper bracket and the rotor.  Instructions indicate a minimum of .030” and I have less than that.  Some minor machining of the mounting surface might solve the problem.  Wheels went on great, look awesome.  LOTS OF PICTURES POSTED TODAY UNDER THE “CHASSIS, SUSPENSION & BRAKES” SECTION OF MY SITE.  ENJOY!!!!


March 1 & 2, 2003:


With the black hands to prove it, I applied POR-15 glossy paint to several small brackets, front steering center link, inner tie-rods, idler arm, motor mount stands, and steering box mounting bolt heads/washers.  After another coat, I will apply POR-15’s Chassis-Coat as a sealer.  The new AGR 12:1 quick ratio box is ready to install, along with the steering components including BAER anodized aluminum adjustment sleeves & outer heim joint ends. 


March 6-8, 2003:


Installation of the steering components, after being painted with POR-15 & Chassis Coat black.  Center link, inner tie-rods, idler arm and BAER adjustment sleeves and outer heim joint rod ends.  AGR quick ratio steering box was also installed.  On the 8th, I fabricated a rear brake line bracket to attach the flexible rubber hose to the rear axle.  Main brake line was also installed using rubber coated adel clamps along the frame.  More work on the rear brake lines is coming soon. 


March 9, 2003:


The only thing I did on the car today was install the rear brake line bracket I fabricated.  I took the stock mount off the 10-bolt rear axle removed from the car, and welded on a mounting plate that is held in position by the top two housing cover bolts.  Pix under “Chassis, Suspension & Brakes” section.


March 15 & 16, 2003:


The BAER flexible stainless steel brake hoses were installed on both the rear axle and the front brakes today.  BAER supplies a 90-degree bracket to transition the hard line to the flex line on the rear brakes.  The bracket is held to the axle tube using a large hose clamp.  On the front, the flex hoses attach to the caliper with a banjo style fitting, and the other end attaches to the factory transition bracket bolted to the frame.  Hard lines from there are routed in the factory configuration to the proportion/distribution valve which is frame mounted.  I’ve purchased a used prop valve, and after reconditioning it, will be bolted to the frame and the front/rear brake lines will attach.  All brake lines are attached to the frame using rubber-coated adel clamps and self tapping screws.  The one other thing I accomplished today was moving my ZZ502 motor from storage into the shop.  This engine was scored on Ebay, back in January 2001.  The seller stated that it was in his Camaro, which he wrecked, and only saw around 3,000 miles of use.  Taking him at his word, I put it into storage since returning from Virginia to pick it up.  I removed the oil pan today, and indeed, this engine looks to be nearly new on the bottom end.  A closer inspection of the bearing condition and clearances will be done, but this motor isn’t destined for the ’71 Pro Touring Chevelle anyway….it will be used as a core to build a 540 for my ’72 SS.  The motor currently in my ’72 SS (stock ZZ502 crate motor) will be removed and “checked out” prior to installation into the ’71.  In the meantime, I will be installing this spare ZZ502 into the ’71 Pro Touring Chevelle for mock up purposes.  Until the bodywork is done, I will be taking the completed rolling chassis (with engine, trans, drive shaft, exhaust system, all suspension & brakes) to my club shows this summer.  I think folks would kind of enjoy seeing a Chevelle with the body removed, showing them all the parts of the car usually hidden from view. 


March 22, 2003:


Today’s work consisted of sandblasting & painting a used brake line proportioning valve.  I also applied a coat of paint (POR-15 Gloss Black) to the master cylinder provided by BAER Performance Brakes, to be used with the 4-wheel disc brake system installed on the car.  While the first coat of paint was drying, I did some exploratory work on my spare ZZ502, removing a cylinder head and inspecting one bank of cylinders and pistons.  As stated above, this motor appears to be low mileage & clean. 


March 29, 2003:


The spare ZZ502 engine was partially disassembled again today to inspect the remaining cylinders, pistons and head.  All appear well, so the motor was put back together and will be planted into the chassis for mock-up purposes. 


March 30, 2003:


Today I installed a Lakewood Blow Proof Bell housing and mid-plate to the ZZ502, added a set of polyurethane Energy Suspension engine mounts, and lowered the mill onto my chassis.  Not wanting the motor to simply hang down towards the back, I fabricated a temporary cross member to support the back of the bell housing till I purchase my transmission, and figure out what I’m going to do about a cross member for the tranny.  I might buy a kit from Competition Engineering, and make the ends to bolt to the frame, then have it powder coated.  I might use the stock unit as well, but mods to the transmission mount are necessary.  I robbed the hi-torque mini starter from my LT-1 350/375 engine and bolted it to the ZZ502.  The dilemma I have now, is headers.  Full-length headers, like the Dynomax ceramic-coated units I have in my ’72 SS, won’t interfere with the manual trans clutch Z-bar, but will be a problem with the Lakewood bell housing in the area of the oil filter.  My solution on my ’72 SS was to notch a section of the flange on the bell housing in the area of the oil filter.  The notch allows the filter to be removed during oil changes.  My other thought was to use a set of Hedmanshortys” but I think they will interfere with the Z-bar.  Plus, I’ve heard folks say that ¾ length headers, or shortys, aren’t much more beneficial than stock cast iron exhaust manifolds.  Full-length headers seem to be the best performance approach. 


April 12, 2003:


My headers (Dynomax Ceramic-Coated) arrived this week, along with my new brake line junction block.  Today I began the day by modifying the header flanges.  With the aluminum head bolts & washers, the headers will not fit without grinding small notches in the bottom of the flanges.  Not a big deal, as this is common for any BBC head that doesn’t use stock size head bolts.  After headers were installed on the motor (I yanked out the motor to install the headers & to test fit after notching) and the motor was re-installed into the chassis.  Plenty of clearance at the brake line junction block and clutch z-bar. 


April 19, 2003:


Today I installed a rear axle breather line, using an Aeroquip 90-degree AN fitting and braided stainless steel line.  The vent line terminates at a K&N mini-filter up on the rear frame crossmember where it won’t catch much road debris & dirt.  Then I modified the flange on my Lakewood bellhousing in order to make room to remove my oil filter during changes.  With the combination of parts I’m using (Lakewood bell, BBC, Milodon deep sump pan, and Dynomax headers, there isn’t room to get the oil filter out once it’s unscrewed from the motor.  I used a plasma cutter to remove a small section of the bolting flange (in an area that isn’t important for strength or function) and now the bellhousing is ready to head to the powdercoater. 


April 26th, 2003:


Not so fast!  With the Lakewood bellhousing modified, and the brand & part # of headers used on my ’72 SS installed, I cannot get the oil filter out after being unscrewed from the block.  Same motor, frame, headers, oil pan, bellhousing….and there’s still not enough room.  My only conclusion is that Dynomax has sloppy tolerances and one set of headers is different from another.  So, I ordered a set of ¾ length Hedman Elite, ceramic coated headers.  These should solve all clearance issues with the oil filter. 


May 2003:


My project has come to a halt for the moment, due to several reasons, most of which are related to time.  There’s only so many hours in a day, and two up-coming car shows are taking up my spare time.  I will be showing the ’72 Chevelle SS in Nashville, TN during the annual Chevelle-a-bration car show during June 12-14.  This event is put on by Chuck Hanson (of TNN’s Horsepower TV fame) in association with ACES (American Chevelle Enthusiast Society) as their premier event.  Right on the heels of that show is the Can-Am Chevelle Club’s show in Niagara Falls, NY held from July 11-13.  With the finishing touches needed on my ’72 SS, there isn’t any time to work on the ’71 Pro Touring Chevelle.  Keep checking back though, as things will pick up again during the summer.


August 2, 2003:


Well, if you read my header troubles from the April notes, you will see that I thought using a set of Hedman Elite ¾-length headers would solve my problems.  NOT!  I got frustrated and ended up damaging the Elites so badly I can’t use them.  The fit was terrible, as they hit the frame crossmember under the oil pan.  I decided to bolt on the Dynomax headers again, and find a solution for the oil filter removal issues.  With a plasma cutter, I removed a very small portion of my lower control arm mounting pocket, allowing the filter to sneak thru the headers and out towards the left front wheel.  Issues with the headers are now over.  The differences between this set of Dynomax pieces and the very same part # used on my ’72 Chevelle SS are paying off in only one area; the clearance at the brake line distribution block is about ½ inch, more than enough to eliminate header heat issues.


August 7, 2003:


The Richmond 6-speed ROD transmission, Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch kit, Hays steel flywheel and ARP hardware kits were all ordered today.  I found the tranny available thru several sources:  Jeg’s, Summit, PowerTrain, and Sallee Chevrolet, with differences in pricing based mostly on whether they charge for shipping or not.  Jeg’s & Summit had identical prices.  Jeg’s doesn’t charge for shipping (they use UPS for this tranny) and Summit charges $70 for truck shipping.  While reading discussion threads on Team Chevelle, I discovered a Summit discount code that would mean 10% off if I ordered by August 17th.  That discount made all the difference, outweighing the freight charge, so the gearbox was ordered.  Clutch parts were ordered as well, again using the discount code.  A great savings!  With the transmission soon to arrive, all I’ll need is the Denny’s Nitrous Ready driveshaft to complete the rolling chassis.  The goal is to trailer the chassis to my last car club show in mid-September, and park it between my two Chevelles.  I’ll post pictures of the show on my websites.


August 12, 2003:


Thru the tracking function on RoadWay Freight’s website, I discovered the Richmond tranny was at the dock in Burlington, but not scheduled to be delivered to me (40 miles away) until either tomorrow or Thursday.  Of course, I drove out to Burlington immediately to pick up this beautiful 6-speed transmission.  I removed it from the box, bolted it onto the bellhousing (without clutch & plate) for measurement purposes on the driveshaft.  The measurements were then called into DENNY’s Driveshaft for a Nitrous-Ready piece, arriving in about 2 weeks.  Next is mounting the back of the tranny to a Energy Suspension poly mount, and securing the stock crossmember to the frame.  It appears the stock crossmember will work, but don’t hold me to that just yet!  More picture updates in Engine & Drivetrain section coming soon.


August 13, 2003:


In keeping with the theme of this restoration (Spend as much money as possible, on any “trick” pieces possible) I decided to not use the stock tranny crossmember, and purchase one from G-Force Crossmembers in New York.  It should arrive soon, and after verifying the fit, will be headed off to the powdercoater with lots of other parts. 


August 16, 2003:


While installing the LONG 6-speed shifter onto the new Richmond ROD transmission, I over-torqued one of the shift linkage nuts that retain the 3rd/4th gear arm.  The stud snapped off, which means the transmission will need to be sent off to Richmond (South Carolina) for repairs.  I was so frustrated I had to walk away from the car before inflicting any more damage to it!  I also re-drilled the two holes in the frame which secure the clutch Z-bar bracket.  Even with the broken stud for the shifter arm, I will be bringing the rolling chassis to my last club show on 9/13.  After the show, I’ll remove the tranny and send it off for repairs.  Waiting on the Denny’s shaft and G-Force crossmember that should arrive this week.


August 20, 2003:


G-Force crossmember installed today, but the spot where my header collectors dump don’t line up with the humps in the crossmember.  I’ve e-mailed G-Force for some input.  New CHEVROLET aluminum valve covers were installed today as well.  Several new pix found in “Engine & Drivetrain” section of my site.


September 11, 2003:


Denny’s “Nitrous-Ready” driveshaft arrived today and was a perfect fit, installing in minutes.  I’ve loaded the rolling chassis onto my trailer and plan on showing it this weekend for the last of my car club shows.  G-Force crossmember was installed backwards, but even after swapping it makes the tranny sit too high, so John (owner of G-Force) sent me a “half-thickness” rubber mount which should solve the issues. 


December 18, 2003:


An update is in order…although not much has happened since my last posting.  The rolling chassis is stored away for the winter, in my folks barn.  During the fall, they hired a barn restoration guy to “gut” all three floors of the barn and all interior walls, replacing the 1st floor with steel beams, then floor joists on 12” centers, finished off with 2” thick tounge & groove pine flooring.  The result is a floor that could support an army tank!  My rolling chassis is comfortably put to bed for the winter.  I sent the transmission off to Richmond Gear (in Liberty, SC) for repairs of the 3rd/4th shift arm, and it has been returned.  Nothing has been done on the body shell yet.  Waiting for some more funds to direct towards this project.  Happy Holidays all….and thanks for checking in on the Pro Touring project. 


February 11, 2004:


While searching the classifieds on Team Chevelle, I saw an ad for a 1971 Chevelle rolling chassis in Delaware.  After e-mailing the seller (Dave Sorowice) I learned that the car was a California-bred Malibu, rust free frame, floors and trunk.  Dave had a professional body shop replace both rear quarter panels with Goodmark tin, and had the whole shell in black primer.  He e-mailed me photos and we struck a deal. 


Here’s my thinking, however warped:  I plan to pull the body shell off this new donor car chassis, and replace it with my existing ’71 Chevelle Malibu body.  I’ll put that rolling chassis away for another day, but use the good body shell on my already-completed ’71 Pro Touring Chevelle chassis.  This will speed the project along, essentially skipping the sheetmetal restoration phase that was required with the original body.  A friend and I plan on driving down to pick up the car on Saturday, February 14, 2004.  I will post photos into the Body Mounting & Bodywork page of my site after we get back.  One really nice plus in this deal is that included are a pair of new Goodmark front fenders, inner fenders, new bumpers, all tinted glass and a set of 71/72 Chevelle SS wheels & trim rings. 


Stay tuned….the fun will start again real soon!


February 17, 2004:


Well, the roadtrip was perfectly scheduled & uneventful, arriving back in VT around 6PM on Saturday.  I can’t get over the condition of the underside & interior floorboards on this Chevelle.  Being a California car (Van Nuys GM assembly plant) makes it a rust free body shell.  The quarter panels were installed nicely, with the doors matching the body lines perfectly.  Sometime in the next couple of weekends, I will have to swap body shells on my rotisserie, and put the other body & frame into storage.  I’ve been strongly thinking of doing the car in Cortez Silver, with black SS stripes on the hood & trunk lid.  No SS badges will be on this car, however, as it is not being built into a clone, but rather a Pro Touring theme car. 


March 8, 2004:


I just got a phone call from Fred Viens, the body & paint guy who did all the resto and paint on my ’72 Chevelle SS (the Blue car) asking a technical question about a ’70 Chevelle SS clone he’s working on.  When I mentioned to him that I just bought another body shell that had its sheetmetal resto already done, and was looking for someone to begin the bodywork & paint, he seemed really excited and agreed to do it!  So, in the next week or two, I need to swap the new body onto my rotisserie and bring it to him for prep and underside paint.  He knew what I was talking about when I told him the underside needed to look like the topside (body color, with clear coat) and he can “jamb out” the car allowing me to mount it to my completed chassis.  Maybe this will get some momentum soon!  Stay tuned…


March 27, 2004:


Saturday morning, 7:30AM sharp, we started the body swap project.  The original body shell from the car I purchased in NJ was attached to my rotisserie.  At the end of the day, we needed to have the body from the Delaware Chevelle bolted to the rotisserie, and the NJ body shell sitting on the Delaware chassis.  It took a few steps, but by noon we had the old body/old chassis bolted together and put into storage in my folks barn.  Another project for another day.  Actually, I want to use that car to make a “Test Mule” vehicle that can be used to try different engine/transmission combinations.  A beater car of sorts, but one able to handle lots of HP & Torque.


The new Delaware body is now bolted to the body rotisserie and I stopped off at the body shop to discuss timeframes with Fred.  He thinks we may be able to start work on the body in the next month.  I can’t wait! 


New pix of the days work posted in “Before Restoration” photo page.


April 14, 2004:


The body shell (still attached to the rotisserie) is loaded onto my trailer and will be delivered to Fred at Shepard’s Brook Auto on Friday!  I’ve upload a few pictures into the “Body Mounting & Bodywork” photo page, showing it sitting on the trailer.  Here’s the plan for body/paint work:  Shave the firewall of A/C opening, heater fan opening, miscellaneous holes.  Sandblast the entire underside of the body shell & firewall, then prime and paint with the body color (Cortez Silver, or another shade that catches my eye) and clear the bottom.  Exterior sheetmetal to receive a traditional BC/CC paintjob in silver, with a painted-on set of Super Sport stripes.  A Harwood “show finish underside” 4” fiberglass cowl hood will be painted along with the radiator support, fenders, inner fenders and valence panel.  The body shell will then be re-united with the chassis.  It’s all coming together, stay tuned for more updates in pictures & here in the restoration timeline.


April 21, 2004:


As scheduled, the body was delivered last Friday.  Fred had to temporarily put it into his shed, but was able to roll the rotisserie into his shop on Monday AM.  He’s off on vacation to Florida with his family and says the car should be back to me around mid-June. 


November 23, 2004:


Long time no updates!  Fred has been busy with his normal collision business, and the Pro Touring Chevelle has not been worked on till now.  Another project slated for his shop has motivated him to get mine completed to free up space.  I visited today and took five new pictures seen HERE under the “Body Mounting & Bodywork” page of this site.  Fred’s plan is to have my car finished before the end of the year.  He commented on how incredibly rust free the floor system of the car is.  Proof positive that it lived the California life of salt-free roads.  The Van Nuys “L” code is paying off!


December 21, 2004:


Fred asked me to stop by today to go over the firewall smoothing, and decide which holes needed to be filled.  He has applied the “chip guard” to the bottom of the body.  Newly loaded pictures show a yellow-colored goo which will be covered in the silver body color during the paintjob process.  I took some import & domestic paint chip books with me and will choose a silver color for the car.  I’ve decided to apply Chevelle SS stripes on the hood & trunk too.  Progress is being made!


January 24, 2005:


I stopped off today to look at the progress.  Fred has done all the firewall hole filling & smoothed out any dips & ripples in the firewall.  He also completed the “bodywork” on the doors and quarters.  While working on the drivers-side door, he found two spots that were thin & rusted.  Patch panels were grafted.  He anticipates completing the sanding & primer on the body very soon.  I saw the paint (in the jar) today and Fred promises to paint a test panel soon.


March 16, 2005:


The body is in final primer coat, and will be final sanded next week.  Then it’s time to spray the car, apply the trunklid SS stripes in black, then add the clearcoat.  I need to assemble all the loose parts (front end sheetmetal, valence panel, bezels, etc…) for painting just after the body shell is completed.


May 2005:


The body and front fenders are finished painted.  Check out the pictures in the “Body Mounting & Bodywork” section.  A busy summer for other things I need to take care of means this project will probably not advance a whole lot till Fall.


September 27, 2005:


A big Summit order placed today…mostly parts to complete the 540 MPFI short block.  I’m on vacation for the first 2 weeks of October, but then I plan to hit the project hard in late October and well into the winter.  Joining the body & chassis comes first, with tunnel mods for the shifter clearance being among the top of the list.  Stay tuned….pictures and timeline updates will follow each step in the progress.


October 20, 2005:


Stopped by to visit with Andy Costello, of AC Performance in Colchester, VT.  Andy will be assembling the short block, using parts I’ve bought over the past couple of years.  I will complete the valvetrain and induction portions of the motor, then bring it back to him for initial starting, break-in and dyno pulls and tuning.  I hope to join the body and chassis next weekend.  Look for new pix soon!


November 19, 2005:


My friend Kurt helped me perform the body & chassis reunion today…now she looks like a car again.  I browsed back at some old pictures and realized that the project started almost 3 years ago to the day.  Good things come to those who wait, right?  Anyway, the project went well but took much longer than I had anticipated.  With the Richmond 6-speed and the G-Force crossmember, there were a few slight mods necessary to get the body lowered and cinched down.  The Energy Suspension poly transmission mount was too thick, so a “half-thickness” unit was installed, which allowed the trans to sit slightly lower and not interfere with the bottom of the body tunnel.  Another issue surfaced when we tried to remove the crossmember.  It was basically “trapped” in the frame rails.  Using non-factory parts was the problem, and a simple solution was to use the plasma cutter to create a 2” slot in the frame bracket located about mid-door on the drivers side, to allow the crossmember to slide out.  One other problem was encountered when I opened the box of rubber body mounts and discovered that there were only 2 of 4 rubber plug body mounts (you know…the ones that are simply rubber mounts without bolts) in the box.  We had to improvise, by robbing two of them from one of my stored project cars.  You ‘gotta do what you ‘gotta do to get things done! 


Check out the pictures in “Body Mounting & Bodywork” section.  The 540 shortblock is being built this week, with a tentative pick-up date of late next week!


November 26, 2005:


Today I installed an old steering column just so I could steer the car around temporarily.  I plan on using an aftermarket tilt-column like Ididit or Flaming River, but the temporary one will allow me to move from the storage bay into the work bay much easier.  I also mocked up a set of clutch & brake pedals I got on Ebay a couple of years ago.  They fit like a glove, so I dis-assembled them and plan on sending them out for powdercoating.  Next project will be tunnel surgery for clearance on the shifter arms. 


December 3rd & 4th, 2005:


The parts sent off to be powdercoated at a new vendor HARBOR VINTAGE in Jonesville, VT, were picked up on Friday the 2nd.  Just like the great job done on my frame by the guys in Massachusetts, these brackets & clutch/brake pedals were absolutely beautiful!  On Saturday the 3rd, I assembled the clutch pedals to their support bracket using new bushings and grease.  I also installed the original clutch neutral safety switch.  The switch, which I had originally thought to be inoperative, was easily fixed after I realized it came apart.  A simple cleaning of the four brass contacts got the switch up and running again.  Sunday the 4th saw more sandblasting of hood hinges and springs in anticipation of another trip to Harbor Vintage.  The other item performed on Sunday was tunnel surgery to allow the installation and operation of the LONG 6-speed shifter assembly.  The transmission fits under the tunnel, using a half-thickness rubber transmission mount, but directly installing the shifter was impossible.  Careful sheetmetal removal using an air operated cutoff wheel allowed the clearance for the shifter arms.  I will now need to fabricate a sheetmetal cover which will stick out a bit, allowing room for the arms to move through their range of motion.  The cover will be screwed/glued into place and will sport a square shifter boot opening at the top.  After the cover is fabbed up, I can then remove the engine & transmission.  The bellhousing, mid-plate and crossmember can be sent off for powdercoating, and the real engine can be assembled and prepped for installation into the car for the final time.  I’m just waiting on some final parts to assemble the 540 long block.


December 10, 2005:


I started working on fabbing up a sheetmetal cover for the shifter, including a rubber shifter boot.  The brake/clutch pedals and support was bolted in and the clutch rod was confirmed for fit and operation.  The old E-brake cable was removed and a new stainless steel one put back in its place.  I then switch gears and did some work on my engine.  I installed the timing set, front cover, oil pump stud, oil pump and pickup, and oil pan and gasket.  I began to install the harmonic balancer, but realized an issue with the ATI 7” unit being installed.  Apparently they need to be honed for correct fit.  After I remove the balancer, it will need to be taken to my machine shop for honing. 


December 26, 2005:


Today a friend stopped by to assist in making the sheetmetal cover for the shifter opening necessary for clearance on the LONG shifter on the Richmond 6-speed.  We used a new tunnel hump floor section purchased from Ground Up, specific to a 4-speed car without console.  After pounding that piece into place and screwing it into position, a second piece was sent thru the sheetmetal roller to give it a slight radius.  After some corner trimming, it slipped right over the remaining opening and completes the cover.  During final assembly of the car, it will be screwed into place using seam sealer to keep out moisture.  The final interior look will be enhanced with carpet, an aluminum trim plate and the rubber boot. 


I got the ATI super damper back from the machine shop, with one half of one thousandth of an inch honed out of the inside.  It installed as normal.  The AFR 335 CNC cylinder heads have arrived, and I installed checking springs onto the #1 cylinder EXH & INT valves.  After several attempts at finding the correct pushrod length using COMP’s checking tools, I ordered the pushrods from Jeg’s. 


Now that the shifter cover has been fabricated, I can now remove the mock-up engine, transmission and crossmember.  The bellhousing, block saver plate, crossmember and several remaining brackets & hinges can be sent off for powdercoating.  The engine should be finally assembled sometime in the next week or two.   


December 31, 2005:


Today we removed the mock-up engine, transmission, driveshaft & crossmember.  The crossmember, bellhousing, mid-plate and hood hinges/brackets have been dropped off at Harbor Vintage for powdercoating. I’m still waiting for some back-ordered parts for completing my engine.  


January 2006:


During the month of January, I’ve been awaiting some back-ordered stuff like Comp Cams pushrods, hydroboost brakes, fuel tank, etc…  Most everything has now arrived and the engine is complete less the intake system, arriving shortly.  All powdercoating is back, and after I check bellhousing alignment the motor & transmission can be stabbed in for real.  I spoke to the guys at Ron Davis Radiators yesterday and ordered one of their aluminum kits with dual 16” electric fans.  I now know which seats I’m going to try, a set of Corbeau Legacy buckets in black micro-suede.  It’s time to get busy and start installing some of this wonderful eye candy!




I thought there was going to be an issue with the cast aluminum valve covers with the CHEVROLET insignia and the AFR stud girdle I wanted to run.  Turns out the ARP rocker arm adjustment nuts weren’t set down enough, plus I was checking without a gasket.  The valve covers will now clear all the valvetrain items!


The Holley Commander 950 MPFI kit arrived, and the intake manifold has been installed.  After seeing the height of the dry throttle body mounted to the intake, I made some measurements and it looks like a K&N 3” element filter-charger kit will clear the bottom of my standard ’71 Chevelle SS domed hood. 


Next steps include installation of the flywheel and clutch, bellhousing, then installing into the car. 


The ARP valve cover stud kit I wanted to use wasn’t going to work without some modifications.  The top three studs on each side would not protrude thru the thicker mounting flange on the valve covers.  So, using my welder I used a stainless steel bolt and welded them to the ends of the stud.  After grinding the welds smooth, I cut off the head of the bolt.  The end result was a set of 6 studs which were about 9/16” longer than the lower set of 4.  Now each stud sticks up thru the holes with the same amount of threads. 


My Competition Cams hydraulic roller camshaft CAM CARD is now loaded onto the website.


January 28th & 29th, 2006:


Bright & early on Saturday morning, Kurt and I began the work necessary to stab in the completed 540” Big Block Chevy engine and transmission.  I used the lift gate of the shop truck as a work platform to install the flywheel, block-saver plate, clutch & disc, bellhousing and clutch fork.  We picked the engine and using the tilting device, dropped it down onto the mounts.  Prior to dropping in the engine, we laid the headers down along the side of the frame and held them in place with bungy cords.  A blanket was used to protect the firewall from any contact. 


We then raised the car on the lift and tried to install the Richmond 6-speed ROD transmission.  Numerous attempts to seat the nose of the input shaft into the pilot bearing were unsuccessful.  Even though I used an alignment tool when torquing down the clutch plate, the clutch disc was off just enough to make our lives hell!  I had to remove the bellhousing and loosen the clutch for re-alignment of the disc.  The transmission slid in on the final attempt.  Crossmember was bolted in and we called it a day. 


Sunday was spent working on clutch rod installation and some engine parts like the Holley Commander 1,000CFM throttle body, air cleaner, spark plugs, thermostat housing, Moroso valve cover gaskets and adjusting the toe-in to a closer setting than it was.  Exhaust system install is next, but after a order from Jeg’s for a larger pair of header collectors (with an O2 sensor port) and some S-bend tubing to get better alignment with my trans crossmember. 


February 11, 2006:


The stainless steel fuel tank from Rock Valley Antique Auto Parts was installed today.  Prior to installing the tank, the sending unit bracket had to be cut to the appropriate length based on the tank depth.  A float rod also had to be cut, bent and installed into the resistor of the sending unit.  I chose to run a –8AN feed line and a –6AN return line to and from the tank.  I made up the tank end of the fuel lines, connected them and raised the tank into position.  Stainless steel straps were provided with the tank and after centering it between the frame it was bolted down.  I made up a generous length of wiring for two grounds, a sending unit lead and a positive fuel pump lead, all taped together in a bundle for wiring later.  Fuel lines were next, but I quickly discovered that the Mallory canister-style fuel filter was not going to work on the car.  With limited mounting choices, it would have hung down below the frame and been an eyesore.  I chose to order an Aeromotive in-line style fuel filter and billet aluminum mounting bracket from Summit and will install it next weekend.  The filter will mount on the frame bracket located around mid-door on the passenger side. 


February 13, 2006:


I mocked up the Vintage Air FrontRunner serpentine drive kit today.  This accessory drive system is nothing less than brilliant!  It allows me to mount the A/C compressor, power steering pump, reverse-rotation water pump and 140Amp alternator using a single serpentine belt.  Photos are loaded on the Engine & Drivetrain section of this site.  Enjoy!  Next weekend I will focus on completing the fuel lines & filter installation, then start the exhaust work. 



February 18-20, 2006:


Making the most of the 3-day weekend, I dove in on Saturday morning to complete the routing of the fuel lines and placement of an in-line fuel filter from Aeromotive Industries.  This fuel filter is a very nice billet aluminum piece, and I ordered the mounting bracket too.  The filter is now mounted to the frame brace that connects the upper and lower frame rail at about the mid-point of the door.  Continuing the fuel line routing, I ran the feed & return lines thru the frame where the stock line would have been routed.  It was a tight fit, but the lines made it thru the small openings.  The lines now become visible for the first time at the frame hole near the passenger side motor mount. 


The Flowmaster 3” exhaust system was nothing short of a pain in the ass to install.  Because I was using an aftermarket transmission crossmember, the H-pipe width at the front of the exhaust was not going to line up with the width of the crossmember openings.  In short, I had to modify the H-pipe by decreasing its length.  After doing that, the connector pipes were fit and welded into place onto the H-pipe and collectors.  The tail pipes are still in need of some minor adjustment so they don’t make contact with the fuel tank and frame, but I can do that later. 


On Monday, I began the installation of the steering column and connector shaft.  A new firewall sponge seal was also installed.  Brake booster rod was connected and the clutch connection rod will be fabricated using small steel tubing and spherical rod ends.  One note concerning the steering column, I had a company in New York make me a custom column incorporating the following features:  1.  Direct fit into the ’71 Chevelle with no modifications needed; 2.  Dimmer switch located on the directional wand; 3.  Wiper controls located on the directional wand; 4.  Cruise Control located on the directional wand.  The cruise feature will be added at some time in the future after the car is completed.  Pictures of the fuel tank and exhaust system are located on the new page “Fuel, Electrical & Exhaust”. 


February 22, 2006:


Yesterday I received a weld-in bung and billet aluminum oil fill cap for the valve cover.  After drilling a 1.5” hole with a holesaw, I had one of our supervisors Scott Ross drop off the valve cover at an area equipment repair and steel shop.  Bobby, one of the owners, tig welded the bung onto the valve cover from the backside, leaving the exterior of the bung with a nice, clean look.  Now the opposite side valve cover needs a hole drilled to allow me to use a K&N push-in breather. 


February 25 & 26, 2006:


This weekend I concentrated on making my MSD 8.5MM super conductor spark plug wires.  Starting at the spark plug end, I routed the wires thru the GM seperator looms, and cut them to length at the distributor cap.  Using my new MSD crimping tool, adding the boot at the distributor end of the wires was a snap.  Then I mounted the MSD Blaster SS coil onto the firewall and made up a short connector wire to the distributor. 


Next, I installed the fuel injectors onto the fuel rails.  I then added the Russell Endura hose ends to the stainless steel braided lines and connected them to the feed & return ports on the fuel rails.  I’ve ordered a pair of hose separators to keep the fuel lines together instead of using zipties.  Next weeked I will start working on plumbing the hydra-boost brakes and power steering box. 


March 11th & 12th, 2006:


Over the two days this weekend I completed the following items on the Chevelle:  Installation of the hydroboost brake system braided steel lines & fittings, Lokar throttle cable and stock gas pedal, powder coated clutch pushrod, main brake lines from master cylinder to distribution block, Earl’s polished aluminum hose separators on the feed & return fuel lines, plugged the extra O2 sensor port in the driver-side header collector, fuel tank vent line and K&N mini-filter and parking brake tension line and retainer clips.  I also installed the Holley fuel injector wiring harness.  The Ron Davis radiator is here, but will not be installed till the radiator support is sent off for painting. 


April & May, 2006:


With parts at the paint shop and no deadline in sight, I suppose getting this car to Chevelle-abration 2006 in Nashville is impossible.  With that goal missed,  I kind of took a few weeks off from the project.  All parts have arrived, and I have chosen American Autowire’s Highway 22 custom wiring harness for the car.  It has plenty of additional circuits for modern needs like MPFI, electric fuel pump, dual electric cooling fans, A/C, one-wire hookup alternator, plus all the standard infrastructure necessary for any car.  Much like Painless Wiring’s harnesses, all wire sheathing is marked along its length with the particular circuit.  A detailed an color-coded wiring diagram was included and it shouldn’t be too difficult to install.  The main thing that will take some planning is how to route the wires, wrap them in logical groups, etc…


The Vintage Air A/C & heater unit is installed using a custom bracket I built.  I’ve started the duct work, and need to make up the four short hoses on the drivers-side of the firewall.  Wiring is simply plug & play, with pre-installed terminals that plug into the control panel mounted to the dash. 


I have chosen to use Covan Classic’s ABS brushed aluminum dash insert, with Autometer Ultra-Lite series gauges.  It has all arrived and will need to be installed and wired during the wiring phase. 


Sound deadening material is being added to the firewall and floor of the car, with more planned for the insides of the doors, roof, trunk divider panel and wherever else I can think of.  I purchased from a company in Canada called B-Quiet.  It came on a 12” wide roll, 50’ in length.  I may do a double layer on the floor if there is extra material. 


June & July, 2006:


I took a break to attend my 4th consecutive trip to Nashville, TN for Chevelle-abration.  This is the mecca of Chevelle-only car shows, hosted by ACES and President Chuck Hanson of TV’s Horsepower TV fame.  Chuck and his wife LaRae put  on an outstanding event, and this was their 10th year for Chevelle-abration!  The show is a 3-day event, with plenty of eye candy on the showfield and lots to do every evening.  This year, Chuck was able to present us with a special surprise.  On Friday night, June 9th, about 150 of us cruised down to Lebanon to the Nashville Super Speedway, NASCAR’s Busch track.  Rumor was we were going to be able to drive on the track.  After we all arrived, a slow parade of cars went thru the tunnel, into the infield and around the garages and onto pit road where we all parked in four long lines.  After about 20 minutes, we were released onto the track in groups of about 20 cars, and told to follow the pace truck for about 5 hot laps!  Speeds in my ’72 Chevelle SS approached about 70 at times, but others told tales of higher speeds.  A surreal experience that I cannot describe how grateful we were to Chuck for arranging this. 


Anyway, back to the resto!  I’ve been working thru the issues of cutting, crimping fittings and routing A/C lines and heater hoses.  Working in tight quarters up under the dash for the line connections is a royal pain in the arse, but I have them completed finally.  Actually, o-ring and final tightening is still needed, but now I can focus on other things.  The biggest “other thing” right now is to begin wiring the car.  I’ll start with the pre-assembled Holley MPFI wiring harnesses and then start the infrastructure for the rest of the car.  I would like to fire the engine in a month’s time, give or take.  While that sounds like an easy task, and it would be with a standard carburetor-equipped car, it’s not quite that simple in this vehicle due to the MPFI, in-tank fuel pump, A/C system, electric fans, etc…  I have to wire the car for the basics before thinking of trying a start of the engine.  Stay tuned….more to come!


July 8, 2006:


With all the best intentions, I set out to begin the installation of my wiring.  The Holley Commander 950 kit includes its own separate harness which connects the ECU to all the engine sensors, plus a few external needs like 12V hot, 12V switched, ground, etc…  I mounted the ECU on top of the glove box, and it will be accessible (although not necessary) by removing the dash pad.  A hole was drilled in the top of the glove box and the data port lead hangs down thru the hole.  PC can be hooked up simply by opening the glove box and connecting the cable.  The harness was routed thru the firewall using the speedometer hole (slightly below the gas pedal) and all sensors were hooked up.  The only remaining sensor to be hooked up is the oxygen sensor and cable, which will be completed when the control unit for the sensor is located somewhere, TBD. 


I then unboxed the American Autowire Highway 22 wiring kit, and tried to locate a good spot for the fuse panel.  Unfortunately, the fuse panel is much larger than an original one, and I cannot find a good location for it.  I do not want to install it under a seat, or in the trunk, therefore I’ve chosen to use original style harnesses for the car.  I placed an order with NPD for all the car’s wiring harnesses.  The goal is to be able to start the Chevelle in August!


February 6, 2007:


AUGUST?  Yeah, right! 


The project kind of hit a wall, or at least my interest level did, throughout the fall of 2006.  I decided to move the Chevelle from my business to the workshop at my parents house, just about a ½ mile away.  After cleaning out the shop to make room, it was moved and will be in a much better location for the remaining work.  Just as the NFL season was winding down, I began working really hard on the car. 


Recently, I have done a lot of wiring work.  For example, the dual SPAL fans on the Ron Davis Radiator have been wired using separate 30amp relays.  I’ve installed the American Autowire stock harnesses into the dash, and engine compartment.  New battery cables, horn relay, horns and battery junction block have all been installed.  Next, I wired a relay in the back of the car to power the electric fuel pump.  I’m running a heavy gauge wire from the battery along the frame fuel lines, to the relay.  The relay is triggered by a wire coming out of the Holley Commander 950 harness, routed along the inside floor where the intermediate lighting harness goes. 


I am probably within a day’s work from being able to fire up the engine.  A few wires from the Holley Commander 950 harness (12V, IGN 12V, Ground, Wide Band O2 sensor & control box) need to be installed and I should be ready. 


February 9-10, 2007:


The last of the small issues were resolved on Friday afternoon, and it looks like Saturday the 10th will be the first attempt at starting the engine!  I had to order a strait piece of flexible radiator hose for the lower position, turns out a stock lower hose isn’t large enough to slide over the Stewart reverse-rotation water pump that was included in the package from Vintage Air.  Parts store quickly came thru with a 2”x18” hose and I installed it on Friday.   


On Saturday morning I stopped off at the local supermarket to buy three gallons of distilled water, for making a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze.  After making a four gallon batch, I added it to the radiator.  I hooked up the coil and hit the key. 


The motor sputtered, as if the distributor was out of adjustment.  I fought for quite a while with the distributor, even removing the cap and rotating the engine over to TDC on the compression stroke….all was OK.  I like to install my distributors so that when the #1 cylinder is at TDC, the rotor points directly towards that cylinder.  Nothing was wrong here, so I had to figure out some other solution. 


Digging into the Holley tuning guide, it turns out that the reason the engine wouldn’t start was that the ECU had too lean of a fuel enrichment setting during cranking.  I accessed the fuel map, made a 2 millisecond increase to the enrichment setting for a cold motor, and lo & behold…..the engine fired right up.  Within about 15 seconds I had to shut her down though, because my heater hoses leading into the fire wall were leaking water like crazy.  I removed and looped one of the hoses temporarily between the pump and the intake.  The hydro boost master cylinder was also leaking power steering fluid…that issue can be resolved by slightly relieving the area where the AN fitting is hitting it, not letting the crush washer take full torque.  I got that leak slowed down enough to start the motor again. 


I kept the idle a bit over normal to help bring it up to operating temps.  Since this is a hydraulic roller cam, there was no need to do the “cam break in” deal…..but I wanted to perform several warm-ups and cool-downs to seat the rings.  Oil pressure was rock solid, at 45 PSI at idle, about 60 with higher RPM’s.  When the temperature reached 195-degrees, the dual SPAL fans kicked on.  For some reason (I still am not sure why…) one of the fans stopped turning.  After I shut down the engine I checked the fuse and found it blown.  I replaced it and it hasn’t happened again. 


Anyway, it’s been a long time coming…and I’m very pleased the engine started and ran great for now.  With the HAYS aluminum flywheel I installed, the engine spools up in RPM’s very, very quickly.  This car should be an absolute BEAST to drive…I can’t wait!  A lot of additional tuning is necessary to make the engine work at peak performance.  I read a bunch of the Holley manual this morning and was surprised at how much more there is to do.  It’ll be worth it though!  Bleeding of brake system next, then I want to see if the car moves under its own power.  Stay tuned and thanks for checking in.


August 20, 2007:


Well, there’s a lot to get you caught up on…some information will be disappointing, but encouraging to others (including me)!  Let me start by going back to early spring shortly after getting the 540 fired up with the Holley fuel injection.  If you read the Feb. 9-10, 2007 blog above, you’ll be led to believe that the engine just needed a bit more tuning and all would be well.  I found that the tune went away, and even after input from Holley tech and others, I couldn’t get back to a point where the engine would behave.  The fuel curve was so rich it actually fouled the oil.  I caught it in time (very thin oil = low, low oil pressure) and re-grouped.  It came to the point after Chevelle-abration (June) that I chose to make a drastic decision.  Against the advice of some of my friends on Team Chevelle, and with the support of others, I removed the fuel injection system in favor of a regular intake & carburetor.  At least this way I would most likely be driving the car sometime this year vs. next year…maybe. 


So, after all the parts arrived (Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap intake, BG 850VS Carburetor, MSD Ready-to-run distributor, Mallory fuel regulator) I dug in.  It was at this point where I discovered a near-fatal assembly error on the engine.  While completing final assembly of the valvetrain items back in January 2007, I somehow got distracted and installed the Comp Cams hydraulic roller lifters BACKWARDS !!!!  I noticed this during the intake manifold swap, and was absolutely outraged at my stupidity.  A close inspection with a flashlight revealed the cam lobes were gouged and the lifter wheels were scuffed too. 


After re-gaining my composure, I made calls to have Comp Cams re-grind my custom bumpstick, still in their computer database, along with a new set of roller lifters.  The engine was yanked out in early July for a partial tear-down.  Minute metal debris was found in the filter, but no where else in the engine.  After replacing the cam with the newly ground piece, the engine was re-assembled.  We re-installed into the car on July 28th.  One silver lining, if you can call it that, is the opportunity to install a high-volume oil pump in place of the first one, a stock replacement pump.  During the initial star-up phase I wasn’t happy with the amount of oil pressure, and the new HV unit solved that.  Now the pump will match the one in my ZZ502 motor in my ’72 Chevelle SS car. 


After another two weekends of final installation items like fuel line mods, regulator install, MSD distributor swap, it was time to fire up the old girl.  Prior to fire-up, I let the fuel pump prime and discovered that there was way too much pressure at the carburetor, even after knocking down the incoming fuel at the regulator.  Seems that my return line to the tank (-6AN) is too small, so some -8AN line and fittings were ordered.  The line was replaced on August 18th and the engine was fired up once more.  It sounds extremely NASTY, with the Flowmaster 3” exhaust and turn-downs just after the mufflers bouncing off the concrete. 


The milestone of the next day was over four and a half years in the making:  I ACTUALLY DROVE THE CAR around my business’s parking lot today (Aug. 19th) for a feel of how the parts work together.  The car is still a bit twitchy, sensitive to power, brake pedal is still a bit hard, it needs to be timed & tuned, but this is a great start.  Now I can finally install the front clip sheetmetal.  I would guess that interior over the winter and the car will be road-ready in the spring.


June 27, 2008:


Why the long gap in updates?  Well, it seems that the excessive fuel pressure damaged the Demon carb, and the engine began running so poorly and became so hard to start that I got frustrated (again…) to the point that I just stopped working on the project.  Plus, I had my new workshop built over the winter.  In the spring of 2008, I moved all my projects & cars to the new shop and began working on the Pro Touring car again. 


A friend suggested that I remove the perfectly running Demon carb off my ’72 Chevelle SS 502-equipped car, install it onto the Pro Touring 540 and see if it would run good.  Lo & behold….it did the trick, verifying that the other Demon had been damaged by the excessive fuel pressure.  It turned out that the in-tank fuel pump that I had originally installed for use with the Holley MPFI fuel injection kit was too high a volume, and the bypass fuel pressure regulator just couldn’t keep up with the flow.  That’s why the pressure couldn’t be dropped down to carburetor-friendly numbers.  I replaced the in-tank pump with one just slightly smaller.  Fuel pressure can now be dialed in to the 6.5 PSI required for the Demon.  Another Demon was ordered (I could have repaired the other one, but chose to just buy new) and the engine now starts great, choke is adjusted for no more than a 60-90 second run time before it kicks off, and the response is phenomenal! 


So, last night I transported the car from my new shop to the local airport where I fly out of.  Using some of the long taxi-ways, I was able to drive up thru the gears, getting a feeling for the car.  This has now given me the ambition to get busy on the project again.  Updates to come again!



June 30th, 2008:


Wow!  Another update only three days later! 


Taking advantage of the weekend, I did some more “testing” of the Chevelle at the airport.  Mostly going up thru 1st and 2nd gear, I wanted to confirm that the car started consistently, idled consistently, heat-cycled like normal and maintained solid oil pressure.  Everything seemed fine, although I need to put a timing light on the engine and adjust the advance.  One of the disadvantages of running a manual transmission car, with an aggressive camshaft and certain rear-end ratios, is that at low speed driving (such as parking lots, driveways, etc…) the car may have the tendancy to “buck”.  This is somewhat cured by reducing the ignition advance timing.  I’m curious to see if it solves my bucking issues.  Some might say that it is normal, and the car needs to be driven with that symptom in mind, but I would rather do what I can to reduce it. 


So, getting a bit more adventurous, I was able to “get on it” slightly and do an aggressive 1st to 2nd rip.  This car puts my ZZ502-equipped ’72 Chevelle SS to shame!  In the wrong hands, this car will be DANGEROUS!!!


My friend Richard stopped by, and I asked him to do some laps back and forth so I could hear what the car sounds like….Neat tone!  The 3” Flowmaster dual exhaust with Super 40 mufflers and turn-downs make this car, to quote Richard, “sound pissed off”.