Thumbing through a local Auto Trader generated interesting results. We found a lot of one-
In a perfect world we would all earn loads of money, have plenty of time off, and (of course) drive awesome, tire-shredding street machines. Our world isn't perfect, though, and we usually have to compromise somewhere.
As a dedicated car crafter, you really want a cool cruiser, but the time and money you need aren't always available. To make matters worse, chances are the car you're trying to transform can't sit in the garage all week--it needs to be reliable, since it will probably serve double-duty as daily driver and weekend warrior. What you need is an easy-to-do, low-cost, one-step-at-a-time, month-by-month street buildup. What you need is Car Craft's new Cheap Street Chevelle.
CC's goal with this new project is to show readers how to build a fairly nice, fairly quick street machine spending as little money as possible. The key to the project is that you will be doing nearly all of the work yourself using common parts from swap meets, newspaper ads, mail-order parts distributors, and your local speed shop. There will be no blowers, no one-off billet wheels, and no radical space-age materials. What there will be is loads of tech info and track testing. If you don't drive a Chevelle, follow along each month anyway, because 99 percent of all upgrades can be applied to any street machine.
01. After getting our Cheap Street Chevelle to its new home, we washed off the eight-year
2. After putting fresh gasoline and a new Champion battery in the Chevelle, the engine ran
3. Once we got the engine to run (not necessarily idle, though), we revved it for a few mi
4. Yuck! The old spark plugs were fouled, the wires were shoddy, the fuel filter was clogg
5. Changing the fuel filter on a Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor is simple. Loosen the OE
6. Doing a quickie rebuild on the distributor was easy. In our overhaul kit we got a new c
7. After putting on new wires and spark plugs, we started the engine and set the timing. F
8. What's wrong with this photo? After pulling the driver-side valve cover, this is what w
9. After tuning up the valvetrain, we put new gaskets on the valve covers. The old gaskets
10. Once the car was legal and in running condition, we immediately headed for the dragstr
11. Upon arrival at the dragstrip the car began to run really rough. Investigation found t
12. With Associate Editor John "burnouts are cool" Kiewicz behind the wheel, project Cheap
13. Right after buying the Chevelle, we wanted to take it to the dragstrip--but it wouldn'
The Chevelle came with aftermarket wheels and tires, but they were in terrible condition. The tires had huge tears in the sides, and the wheels were rusty, dinged up, and had peeling chrome. They were too wide, and they rubbed whenever we hit a bump or turned a corner. We had four still-in-good-shape tires lying around (mounted on stock steel wheels), so we bolted them onto the Chevelle until we had more time and money to get a nicer set. Even after cleaning them up they didn't look perfect, but at least they were safe to drive on.
The front and rear part of the headliner was on the shabby side. It hung down so far that we couldn't see out of the rear window and parts of the windshield. We didn't have the money to replace the headliner, and we didn't necessarily want to tear it out, so we bought a 59-cent box of ladies' hair pins to hold it up. It wasn't pretty, but it worked.
Obviously the interior has seen better days. We didn't particularly care for the hashed-out looking seat nor the spring-in-the-butt feel, so we stuffed a few towels in the hole and covered it with a near-new bath towel. Custom, eh?
With the car running in top condition (sort of), we were off to the smog station. With all of the fresh engine parts, including an oil change and fresh coolant, we were curious to see how many poisonous toxins the engine would belch. The smog guy seemed to be laughing as he stuck the infamous "tailpipe sniffer" into our monstrous 17/8-inch single exhaust outlet.
The smog guy at the local "Pass or Don't Pay" wasn't exactly impressed by the power of our mill. However, it didn't stop him from flogging the engine during the test.
Zealous Associate Editor Miles Cook was obviously excited that our mean machine passed smog inspection. Even though the car was near the bump for legality, Miles kept spouting, "I told you it would pass!" So much for all the clunker bills stating that we'll be cleaning the air by removing old cars from the roads.
1. Obviously our stock street machine needed a little help in the performance department. We scoured newspaper ads and local swap meets and came up with an Edelbrock Performer aluminum intake manifold that not only sheds weight, but also outperforms the stock cast-iron intake. With a little Rust-Oleum Pure Strength cleaner and some scrubbing, you can have used parts looking good in no time.
2. After removing the stock points-type distributor, Quadrajet carb, and various hoses, unbolt and remove the stock cast-iron intake. Be careful not to let any of the gunk on the manifold or nearby areas drop down into the lifter valley. One easy trick is to lay some paper towels in the lifter valley to keep dirt and debris out.
3. After we positioned the new set of Ultra Seal intake gaskets, we carefully set the new manifold in place and tightened it down. Be sure to bolt on all of the original brackets (such as the air conditioning bracket), torque the bolts to spec (30 lb-ft) in the correct sequence, then reinstall the distributor and hook up the vacuum lines.
4. Whenever you change an intake manifold, always change the thermostat. Doing so is cheap insurance against overheating, and you'll save yourself the hassle of doing it later. We also put a new upper radiator hose on because the old one was in terrible condition.
5. With the new Edelbrock intake manifold in place, a quickie de-gunk of the carb, and a new PAW open-element air cleaner, we were back on the track. While the car still wasn't a rocketship, we did make a notable one-tenth improvement on our quarter-mile time. Next month should be interesting as we do a few key street machine hop-ups that are sure to lop off more time. Will the Chevelle run in the 15s? We'll see.
AC-Delco OEM tune-up kit: Distributor cap
(PN D308 R-8), rotor, points,
and condenser (PN 101-2)
AC-Delco replacement spark plug wires (PN 6316-D)
AC-Delco spark plugs (PN R445)
AC-Delco fuel filter (PN GF-4)
AC-Delco oil filter (PN PF25)
Pennzoil 10W30 motor oil (5 quarts)
Pennzoil Dexron II ATF fluid (3 quarts)
5/32-inch vacuum line (6 feet length)
3/8-inch fuel line (6 feet length)
VHT Carb and Choke Cleaner
Fel-Pro Red RTV Sealant
Rust-Oleum Pure Strength Cleaner
Super 104+ Octane Boost
Manifold Swap Parts
Edelbrock Performer (PN 2101)
Ultra Seal manifold gasket set (PN 5820)
Fel-Pro carburetor gasket (PN 60111)
Stant 180-degree thermostat
Gates upper radiator hose
PAW open-element air cleaner (PN 19500)
Auto Trader magazine
Champion 700 battery
Ultra Seal valve cover gaskets (PN 5860)
Small box of ladies' hair clips (for headliner)