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Cheap Street Chevelle

The Engine Gets Built and Goes In

Photography by Ed Taylor, John Kiewicz

The logic behind the Cheap Street Chevelle was to build up a nice street machine for limited cash outlay. We skipped all the fancy gee-gaws and stuck to the basics by installing tried-and-true parts including an Edelbrock Performer dual-plane manifold, Cyclone headers, a dual exhaust system with DynoMax mufflers, a PAW camshaft and lifter kit, a Performance Distributors HEI distributor, Jacobs ignition wires and a pair of World Products S/R Torquer cylinder heads.

In addition, we rebuilt the stock 750cfm Quadrajet carb, installed a Turbo Action shift improvement kit and swapped in Drive Train Specialties 3.73:1 gears and an Eaton Top Spec limited-slip carrier. When we bought Cheap Street Chevelle, it didn’t run. After some work and a tune-up, we garnished a best e.t. of 16.62 seconds at 83.23 mph. By the time we completed our upgrades (featured in three issues of CC), we had our rig running 13.89 at 96.70 mph--not bad for a car with 140K miles. Just before we arrived at the dragstrip, we heard a loud knocking in the bottom end, but we flogged our car anyway. It did run the 13-second e.t. goal, but we had hurt the worn-out stock bottom end in the process. Editor Schifsky told the staff to build a new bottom end, but what the bottom end consisted of was up to our readers.

We got stacks of mail offering advice, but the overwhelming request was to reuse the 350 V8 and install a low-buck bottom end kit (crank, rods and pistons), while reusing all of the top end goodies (heads, intake, carb, and so on). Jim Hutchins from South Point, Ohio, wrote, "I understand that your Chevelle has a rod knock. I also understand that it is supposed to be a low-buck street machine that will earn you some respect. I, like a lot of readers, have bills and a mortgage and can’t afford a lot of high-dollar upgrades. Install a bottom end rebuild kit with good bearings, low-buck forged pistons, good rod bolts and a high-volume oil pump. The cost of expensive machine work is out of reach for most of us, so please try to keep it to a minimum." Jim went on to tell us that his project car has many of the same motor mods that we had on our Chevelle, but like us, he had spun a rod bearing and needed a rebuild. Jim ended the letter by saying, "I am patiently waiting to see how your engine runs so I can copy it, hopefully with great success." Well Jim, ask and you shall receive. We called Performance Automotive Warehouse (PAW) and ordered a flat-top piston crankshaft special. The kit is normally $384 with cast pistons, but we opted to upgrade to forged pistons, so our kit cost $464. The forged pistons allowed us the option of adding nitrous oxide injection (or other similar upgrades) at a later date.

We took our cylinder block to Skercevic Automotive Machine in Ventura, California, to have it cleaned, bored and honed. In addition, we spent a few extra bucks to have the crank assembly balanced. Once the engine was rebuilt, we took it to Duttweiler Performance to test its power output on a dynamometer. We realize that dyno testing an engine is probably out of the price range of most readers, but we did it to show you what horsepower you can expect when using an engine combo such as ours. Heck, if you like the power figures, simply use the same parts we did and you’ll be ready for action. The peak power numbers we got were perfect (read Duttweiler Dyno sidebar in this story), the engine had a smooth power band, and our combo had a nice musclecar idle.

Besides the bottom end engine rebuild, installing a new torque converter was our only other major upgrade. Our stock unit would barely stall up to 1500 rpm, which was killing our e.t.’s at the dragstrip. We upgraded to a TCI Break-A-Way 11-inch torque converter that was a direct bolt-on and gave us a 2600-2800rpm stall speed--perfect for street/strip use.

SOURCES
Competition Cams
Memphis
TN
8-00/-999-0853
compcams.com
Standard Abrasives
4201 Guardian St.
Simi Valley
CA  93063
Duttweiler Performance
Saticoy
CA
TCI Automotive
151 Industrial Dr.
Ashland
MS  38603
662-224-8972
www.tciauto.com
Fel-Pro
26555 Northwestern Hwy.
Southfield
MI  48033
VHT:PJH Brands
Dept. CC
8747 Via De Commercio
Scottsdale
AZ  85258
Performance Automotive Warehouse
Chatsworth
Ca
ARGET="_new">www.pawinc.com
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