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1978 Chevy Malibu - Quick Silver

Jim Williams' 9-Second, Alcohol-Fed Street And Strip Burner

Photography by Brett Kepner,

Tech Notes
Who: Jim Williams
What: '78 Chevrolet Malibu
Where: House Springs, Missouri, a few short miles from St. Louis and the mighty Mississippi River.

Engine: Jim started with a two-bolt main iron 454 block and had his engine builder, Jim Evans, stuff in a 4.250-inch stroke Eagle steel crank, along with Eagle steel rods and a set of JE pistons that punch up the squeeze to 13.5:1. Total Seal fills the gaps between the pistons and cylinder wall, which is a good thing, because when you're running methanol, it does the nasty to engine oil. Comp Cams got the nod for a mechanical roller that Jim admits to having around 0.714/0.678 inch of lift with the requisite valvesprings and good pushrods to make it live. Of course, if you're going to really squeeze a motor (in more ways than one), then you need a good set of heads. Jim went with a pair of Dart Pro 1 325cc heads that fit on the engine with 2.25/1.88-inch stainless valves, and these aren't even the biggest. Dart also offers a Pro 1 in a 345cc size. His most recent update was a complete CNC machining of the ports and chambers in addition to fitting the iron block with four-bolt main caps, just as a precaution.

Induction: In keeping with the Malibu's low-key nature, there's little more than an Edelbrock Super Victor single-plane with a Holley 1050 Dominator carburetor to mix the fuel and a Magnafuel 500 pump to make sure all that alcohol arrives on time. That small fuel tank up front in the engine compartment is for the C-16 race gasoline that is fed to the NOS 125-shot nitrous system. If you see the car this summer, it will have a two-stage nitrous system with 200 in the first stage and 350 on the second. Jim says he could add the two kits together for a third stage, but that might be getting greedy. The rest of the engine uses an MSD 7 programmable box with slewed timing control.

Exhaust: Jim didn't scrimp on the headers, having a set of custom 2 1/8- to 2 1/4-inch stepped headers built by Dan Shell Race Cars and fitted to a 4-inch exhaust with Dynomax mufflers.

Transmission: The Turbo 400 has been fitted with a reverse manual valvebody and sports an ATI 5,000-stall speed converter, which is probably one reason the car has run as quick as a 1.26 60-foot time. Of course, the transbrake doesn't hurt.

Rearend: When the 12-bolt proved it wasn't going to be durable enough, Jim headed straight for a Strange 9-inch with 35-spline axles and a 4.88 screw.

Suspension: In front, it's pretty much stock with Moroso front springs, Competition Engineering shocks, and no antiroll bar. The rear is a little more updated with a set of ladder bars and Aldan coilover shocks. Add in Strange brakes front and rear, and this is a simple car that works very well. Jim gives all the credit for making it hook to Dan Schell Race Cars in High Ridge, Missouri, which also did the chrome-moly 'cage work.

Wheels/Tires: The fronts are 15-inch Weld Racing Aluma-Stars mounting a pair of Moroso 26x4.5-15-inch tires. On the rear are Goodyear 33x10.5W-15-inch slicks mounted on double-beadlock 15x12-inch Weld Aluma-Stars.

Crew: A car like this requires a big commitment from lots of people, and Jim acknowledges his wife, Tiffany, and their two kids, Brandon and Madison, along with help from Dan Schell, Ben Stumb, and Jeremy Lohman.

Performance: The Malibu's best pass is a 9.34 at 143 mph at the cost of in-town mileage, Jim says, of roughly "2 miles per gallon."

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