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1972 Chevy El Camino 350 Engine Rebuild - El Cheapo

By , Photography by Terry McGean, ,

Things We Would Have Done Differently
• We paid too much for the trans and converter. Junkyard units might have been $50 total, and the risk isn't that much greater than with a swap meet unit. A stock converter would work better with the yukky 2.56 rear gears, but the one we have will be great if we swap to 3.73s.

• There wasn't a really good reason to swap the intake manifold for an initial just-get-it-running effort.

• Nearly anyone will tell you that our 800-cfm carb is totally wrong for this application, but you sure can't tell it by driving the car. Besides, we totally ripped off some guy when we paid only $50 for the sucker.

• The cam duration seems a bit too much for this engine, which has 8.5:1 compression at best. A duration of 214 at 0.050 may have been a wiser choice. Even with the 224-at-0.050 cam, it sucks 15 inches at idle.

• We're terrifically lame for (once again) not printing quarter-mile numbers for the Elco. It just plain didn't get done in time. Don't try and tell us that's never happened to you.

The True Cost of Cheap
Item Source Price
'72 El Camino Geek friend moving to Florida $400.00
Cam and lifters PAW $79.95
Timing chain PAW $14.95
Complete gasket set PAW $17.95
Holley 4780 Long Beach Swap Meet $50.00
30cc accelerator pump Diaphragm PAW $3.95
50cc accelerator pump Diaphragm PAW $11.95
Used Torker intake A buddy who knew it was junk $15.00
Oversize carb stud Local parts store $1.19
1 1/4-inch freeze plug Local parts store $0.79
Carb inlet nipple fittings Pep Boys $2.98
Fuel filter Pep Boys $2.86
3/8-inch rubber fuel line Pep Boys $3.56
Fuel tee Pep Boys $1.49
Hose clamps Pep Boys $2.29
Throttle ball stud Local parts store $1.19
Air cleaner assembly Long Beach swap meet $5.00
World's grungiest A buddy who really wanted
headers 'em out of the yard $10.00
Exhaust system Local muffler shop $200.00
Used HEI-complete Pick-A-Part $15.94
Spark plugs Chief Auto Parts $7.92
Plug wires Pomoma Swap Meet $15.00
TH350 trans and convetor Pomona Swap Meet $250.00
Trans cooler fittings Local trans shop $4.00
Trans mount local parts store $13.95
5/16-inch hardline (four lengths) Pep Boys $ 17.16
Copper vacuum tubing (three ft.) Pep Boys $2.97
Trans linkage Pick-A-Part $14.97
Rebuilt battery Local battery shop $18.95
Battery terminals Chief Auto Parts $1.98
Fan belt (two of 'em) Chief Auto Parts $10.98
Heater bypass caps (two packs) Pep Boys $4.10
Radiator cap Pep Boys $5.99
Miscellaneous bolts Orchard Supply Hardware $9.62
10-gauge wire Pep Boys $2.69
Wire connectors (two packs) Pep Boys $3.98
Oil (five qts.) Kragen Auto Parts $4.45
Oil filter Kragen Auto Parts $2.99
ATF (two big jugs) Pep Boys $8.64
RTV silicone Pep Boys $2.99
Spray paint (orange and black) Pep Boys $11.97
TOTAL
$1,256.34

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