Hey, look--we turned a $400 nonrunning pile into a $1,256.49 daily drivable pile! Why? Because that’s what gearheads do.Hey, look--we turned a $400 nonrunning pile into a $1,256.49 daily drivable pile! Why? Bec Here’s what the engine looked like before our first day of wrenching--a hearty noon-to-3 a.m. session that began by hosing off the car, removing all the stuff we didn’t need, and vacuuming up dog hair, cobwebs, black widows, rust, and dirt. We pulled the engine, degreased it, changed the cam, installed a different intake, painted the engine, bolted up the tranny, and reinstalled the engine with headers. Try that marathon some time.Here’s what the engine looked like before our first day of wrenching--a hearty noon-t Once we threw a 5/8 socket on the crank bolt and turned the engine over, we figured we were home free. Inspection under the valvecovers revealed some mashed valvetips, the result of a few cam lobes that had gone flat, causing too much lash between the rockers and the valves.Once we threw a 5/8 socket on the crank bolt and turned the engine over, we figured we wer We bypassed a valvejob and simply stabbed in a new cam, lifters, and timing set from PAW. We chose a Super Stock Industries PN 10312 cam with 0.465-/0.488-inch lift and 224/234 degrees of duration at 0.050 tappet lift and ran it with the stock valvesprings. The least expensive way to get the gaskets we needed was to buy a complete engine-overhaul kit for $17.95.We bypassed a valvejob and simply stabbed in a new cam, lifters, and timing set from PAW. The Elco came with an ancient Edelbrock SP2P intake (left) and a weird Holley spread-bore double-pumper we’d never seen before. We have a swap meet nitrous system we want to install some day and didn’t trust the SP2P with the squeeze, so we nabbed a used Torker II single-plane for $15 from a friend who knew that it had a few stripped threads.The Elco came with an ancient Edelbrock SP2P intake (left) and a weird Holley spread-bore We planned on reusing the stock exhaust manifolds, but when 15/8-tube headers came along for $10, we figured we couldn’t lose. They were rusty and had peeling coating, but haven’t leaked yet.We planned on reusing the stock exhaust manifolds, but when 15/8-tube headers came along f Showing a huge leap of faith, we choked up $200 at the Pomona Swap Meet for a supposedly B&M-built TH350 and converter. They worked perfectly, even though we didnt even bother to pull the pan and change the filter. The only bummer is that the converter stalls kinda high, giving a very sluggish feel at low-throttle input.Showing a huge leap of faith, we choked up $200 at the Pomona Swap Meet for a supposedly B The next day we split from work about an hour early, made runs to the parts stores, and got to the shop at by 7 p.m. We wanted to dress the 350 with pulleys and stuff, but got hung up because no local stores had heater bypass caps. They were a must because the alternator blocked access to a heater fitting that refused to come out of the manifold, and clearances were too tight for a homemade plug (a chunk of hose with a bolt stuffed in it).The next day we split from work about an hour early, made runs to the parts stores, and go With engine work stymied, we dove under the car after a run to the hardware store for trans-crossmember and torque-converter bolts. We went to three places before finding a new trans mount; what’s the world coming to when auto parts stores don’t stock a TH350 biscuit? We also installed the shift linkage, starter, and motor-mount bolts before cleaning up and painting the engine brackets and pulleys.With engine work stymied, we dove under the car after a run to the hardware store for tran We’d spotted that the trans had no cooler-line fittings and bought new ones, along with 5/16-inch hardline--way safer than the rubber-hose trans-cooler lines that were already on the car. We kinked one hardline, misbent the other, and had to buy two more the next day. We couldn’t finish the cooler lines so we couldn’t install the dipstick (it’s in the way), and we didn’t want to install the distributor because it would be in the way of installing the trans dipstick. We called it a short night.We’d spotted that the trans had no cooler-line fittings and bought new ones, along wi By the time we got back to wrenching, we’d been to a swap meet and scored a Holley 800-cfm double-pumper for $50! Way wrong for the 350, but there was no way to refuse the price. Before installing it, the manifold needed some work: 1) tapping a broken thermostat-housing bolt; 2) tapping a broken carb stud; 3) installing a core plug to block the old oil-fill tube (three stores before we got the right plug); and 4) finally finding heater bypass caps after going to five parts stores. Highly annoying.By the time we got back to wrenching, we’d been to a swap meet and scored a Holley 80 We bought new cooler lines and bent ’em successfully, even if they are kinda ugly on the inner fenderwell. Another purchase was a remanufactured battery for just $18.95. It had top posts where side posts used to be, so we put new universal terminals on the old cables.We bought new cooler lines and bent ’em successfully, even if they are kinda ugly on With the cooler lines in place, we also installed the trans dipstick, then the vacuum line to the trans modulator. We used copper hardline instead of rubber which can suck closed and cause weird shifting.With the cooler lines in place, we also installed the trans dipstick, then the vacuum line In addition to plumbing fuel to the carb and adding a new filter, we had to sort out the carb linkage. That involved removing a Ford-type arm from the carb, installing a GM-type ball stud for the cable to snap onto, and jerry-rigging a return spring. The throttle bracket went under the coil-bracket holes, but their location on the Torker manifold prevented the trans kickdown bracket from working. We just left it off for now.In addition to plumbing fuel to the carb and adding a new filter, we had to sort out the c It felt like a victory when we finally dropped in our junkyard HEI distributor, replacing the mangled old electronic-conversion distributor that was in the car, complete with clear distributor cap. We set the initial timing by eye and rewired the HEI power lead so it would get full battery voltage when the engine was running.It felt like a victory when we finally dropped in our junkyard HEI distributor, replacing After adding fluids we were ready to fire it up, but the 12-year-old gas in the tank had turned to pure varnish. Getting it out was a pain because we had to remove this old anti-siphoning spring from the fill tube. Remember those things from the gas crunch? We siphoned fresh gas out of a car on the Hot Rod side of the shop rather than run to the station. Cheaper that way.After adding fluids we were ready to fire it up, but the 12-year-old gas in the tank had The moment of truth: We turned the key, and...nothing! No power in the entire car. Hate that. Early A-bodies have a main power terminal on the core support just ahead of the battery. In 72 it was moved to the firewall near the master cylinder. We found no power here when the battery was hooked up. The quick solution was to rewire it by running one cable from the power-point stud to the large terminal on the back of the alternator and another to the larger terminal on the starter.The moment of truth: We turned the key, and...nothing! No power in the entire car. Hate Yup, it lept to life right away and ran pretty snappy while we were breaking in the cam. Neighbors love open headers at 2:00 in the morning.Yup, it lept to life right away and ran pretty snappy while we were breaking in the cam. N After a good sleep, we returned to find gas puddled all over the manifold. Thats what we get for installing the carb without rebuilding it. We were shocked at how much we had to spend for new accelerator-pump diaphragms, which were the problem. Once it was running again, the fan belt squeaked badly; it had stretched, and the alternator bracket had no more room for adjustment. Off to buy a 1/2-inch-shorter belt.After a good sleep, we returned to find gas puddled all over the manifold. Thats wha Then, the engine started running like dog doo. The plugs were perfect, so we ran a compression test. Pressures ran from a low of 121 to a high of 135 with no dead holes. The problem was our swap meet plug wires that burned through the boots on two cylinders. We were too lazy to buy new plug wires, so Kiewicz made an unsuspected donation. Topped with a swap meet air cleaner, the engine was done.Then, the engine started running like dog doo. The plugs were perfect, so we ran a compres But, we were in for a big disappointment: We popped the rearend cover for a gear-oil change and found what looked like 2.56:1 gears, and a tooth-count proved us right. Rats! Small-blocks with 8.5:1 compression are not known for happy 60-foot times with freeway-friendly 2.56s.But, we were in for a big disappointment: We popped the rearend cover for a gear-oil chang However, we lucked out with the condition of the brakes, which you should always check when you buy any used car. The front suspension also looked safe, and we lubed everything up. We noticed that the front tires were taller than the rears, so we swapped em and improved the cars stance significantly. It would have been nice if wed remembered to tighten all the lug nuts before a test drive.However, we lucked out with the condition of the brakes, which you should always check whe Moments before the magazine went to press, it was smoky burnout time! The car ran dang good, only leaked a little (at the heater bypass capsno surprise), and didnt even overheat. The loose converter, freeway gears, and rock-hard bias-ply treads added up to awesome burnouts200 feet, officially. Once we get this thing to the muffler shop, itll be a good driver and a perfect starting point for a basic street machine. El Cheapo lives.Moments before the magazine went to press, it was smoky burnout time! The car ran dang goo It all started when a loser buddy was moving out of town and pretty much forced us to overpay $400 for his clapped-out 1972 El Camino. The floorpans were really rusty (three holes the size of your head), and the 350 hadn’t run in 12 years. Most of the parts that had been removed from the car were stacked in the bed, but the transmission was gone. Overlooking that, we dug the fact that it had no air conditioning, no power steering, and no power brakes--our kind of strippo hot rod! Naturally, we had to have it. But then we didn’t know what to do with it. We eventually decided to just get it running so we could move it around, but it started to grow on us, sort of like the mold on the seat. We threw some swap meet-speed goodies on it, and now it smokes the bias-plies so brutally that we may even have the incentive to keep building it, slowly adding nicer stuff as we can afford it. After all, Car Craft’s Cheap Street 1970 Chevelle started this way nearly five years ago, and look at it now! Check out how we threw this thing together in five days, and let us know if you want more. Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!