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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started typing up a doc to help me remember everything I have done on the car so far. I figured if I was going to all the trouble I should share it on here. I am pretty new at all this so any tips or advice is much appreciated.


It all started with purchasing this 1971 Chevelle from a family friend. It ran well and had a 454 in it. My goal was to build an awesome fair dail driver (more like summer driver in Alaska). After some work I realized there was more body work than I was prepared to handle. Almost all of the quarter panels and floor would need replacing. I am a more mechanical person and a **** body man, so I started to look for something with a better body on it.



I found a 1970 Chevelle with a 350 in town that was a frame off project someone lost interest in. I got a good deal on it and I always like the ’70 better than the ’71 anyways. I hatched a plan to swap the 350 from the ’70 with the 454 from the ’71 then sell it.

A friend of a friend heard about my project and offered to sell me a custom built engine he had got for a Chevelle and then went another direction. He kept meticulous records and had every single receipt and paper you could want for it. It was a BB 565 with dyno sheets showing 818hp. He also had a TH400, Holly Dominator, and torque converter he had built for the engine. His receipts on the engine alone totaled more than $22k. He offered the whole package to me for $13k. I was a little nervous about the power of the engine. I had never driven anything that powerful and had been told by others that it was a bad idea to start with something that big. I turned him down at first but a couple months later he offered it to me for $10k and I bit.

I went into this project not knowing much of anything about this level of car work. I knew my limitations and relied heavily on the advice of others and the Chevelle forums. On the advice of my step father I decided to swap to a hydraulic cam and tone the engine back just a bit. We went through Chris Straub for all this, he set us up with a cam and lifters to get us around 700hp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I had never been this deep in an engine and took my time. I had lots of help from my twin daughters who were all about helping. I was given the advice by another to use 3/8 rods and had to do a little filing on the heads to make sure they cleared. The rockers that were in the engine were very different and took me a while to figure out. It would have been much worse if it hadn’t been for those meticulous records the previous owner had kept.

Around this time is when I realized that most of the people that had been helping me knew a little less than they were pretending. Most of their “advice” were really just lightly informed opinions (like *******s, everyone has them and they stink) not the experienced knowledge I had thought. I started to rely a little more heavily on the old interwebs for my information. I am not a patient person naturally, but I hate messing things up more than I hate waiting so I started checking and rechecking any information I was given.

Next I pulled the 350 and transmission out and sold them as well as the ’71. My twin daughters were all about helping even out in the cold of Alaska. I found a local shop that would blast the body for me. We found a little damage but nothing that a little TLC couldn’t fix. Mostly small dents and very little rust. The shop that blasted in let my painter friend come in and put a coat of epoxy primer on it for me. I wanted it primed even though it will need some body work so it would be safe from rust till we get to that stage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
While the body was in the shop I got to work on the frame. I considered putting in a cage but didn’t want the safety concerns if the kids were riding in the back seat and I don’t intend to race it. I only plan to take it to the track maybe once after it’s done just to see what it will do. I found and ordered a kit from HPI to stiffen the frame as much as possible without putting a cage in it. I used to be a welder for the oil companies up here so this was not too daunting a task for me. I used some small welds at first. I want to test fit as much as possible to make sure nothing hits or rubs before fully welding. I also re-welded most of the factory welds since they were terrible. 1970 quality control was pretty low I guess.

Around this time work stalled for a couple years. I was short on cash and didn’t have any motivation. I was pretty depressed and couldn’t handle anymore than barley making it through a day. Things got pretty bad for a while. I finally decided something was wrong and talked to a doctor. After some testing they discovered I had extremely sever sleep apnea. I wasn’t allowed to drive and they were concerned I was going to have a stroke or embolism. I didn’t catch it because they think I have had it to some degree most of my life. I also didn’t fit the profile since I was young, not over weight, and didn’t snore. They sent me to a surgeon who gave me a U.P.P.P. (I can’t pronounce the actual name). Basically they cut our large chunks of my throat and roof of my mouth. Fast-forward about four months of recovery (it’s a pretty rough surgery) and I am re-flooring my house, working on the Chevelle, working overtime, and have energy to spare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Since my plan is to test fit before welding and painting the frame I got to work on the suspension next. The car had a 12 bolt rear with 2.73 open gears and I didn't like the look of the stock axles. I pulled that and had the axle housing blasted and powder coated. I got a Yukon posi with 3.42 gears and Moser axles. This was my first time rebuilding a rear differential and I took my time. I ordered a set of UMI tubular rear control arms and braces. For now I just got some stock QA1 shocks though I may upgrade in the future.

I spent several nights trying to fit up the 3” Pypes exhaust system I ordered for the car. After becoming completely confused I shot off an email to Pypes. They were very helpful and told me the problem was that the 1970 needed the stock tailpipe hangers not the ones they sent in the kit (wish they would have put that in the instructions). They also recommended fitting it with the body and all the weight on the frame, so I guess that just moved to the back burner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's a very cool family project you have there Travis! I really like the Daytona Yellow with black stripes! You will have an awesome Chevelle when you're done!:thumbsup:
Thanks Mike. I agree with you about the yellow. Unfortunately, my wife hates the color yellow with a passion. Since she has been more than generous with allowing me to spend all our money on this, I think I will have to pick a different color.:crying:
 

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Happy wife, happy life. What color do you think you will go with? Not that it really matters but what was the original color of the car? Post a picture of the cowl tag.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here is one. Found what looks like a build sheet under the driver seat as well. Not sure if seats are original to the car though.


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Yes that build sheet matches the car. It came from the Arlington plant. It was Mist Green with dark green buckets. Let's hope green isn't your wife's favorite color, lol.
 

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1968 Malibu sport coupe, 489 ci. 590 hp 600 tq, RV T-400 Freakshow 3200 stall, 3.73 12 bolt posi
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Nice project thread Travis :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am currently waiting for the front A-arms and coil overs to arrive from UMI. In the meantime I decided to get the engine and transmission put in so I can measure for a driveshaft when I get the weight back on it. This has been one of the more confusing parts of the project.

First according to everything I can find on my casting number (24502506), I have a 454, 4bolt, bowtie, Gen V, Race Prep, 10.2 tall deck height. So I ordered a flexplate with this information at hand. It arrives and I noticed that what I thought to be the wrong side of the plate said it needed to face the engine. My wife said “some idiot probably just engraved it wrong” I told her that was very unlikely. So I called TCI on Monday to see what I’m doing wrong. When the tech answers I explain my situation and immediately hear a deep sigh. “So there was this guy who doesn’t work here anymore and he marked a ton of plates on the wrong side” he says. After listening to my wife say “I told you so” I ran into my next problem.

I headed to the garage to attach my flexplate when I look and discovered that I have a two piece rear seal? I had previously been told that all gen V blocks had one piece seals. I started doing some searching and found a current GM performance block with the same casting number except for a “B” at the end.

https://www.gmperformancemotor.com/parts/19212197.html

According to this information, this block is all over the place on what parts it can take. The important part is it needs a mark IV rear seal, crank, and oil pan. I decided that I probably needed a mark IV flexplate since the crank was probably a mark IV. When it arrived the converter holes where just slightly miss aligned. The instructions say that it may need to be drilled to fit if I use 7/16” bolts (which I am). I am a little concerned about this. My understanding is that the balance on flexplates is very sensitive. If I drill the plate wont I alter the balance of the plate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have a similar oil pan and the wing on the drivers side causes me problems with oil changes with headers installed. You may want to mod it before installation?
Thanks for the tip! I'll climb under and take a look when I get it all put together.

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I had a few friends come by and we got the body back on the frame. Looks like all my bracing clears except for two spots where the edge from the floor holes touch. It is resting on the mounts so I think if I just grind the edges off I should be good to go.

I'm stacking a bunch of weight in the car. That way I can measure for a drive shaft and exhaust with a somewhat similar load on the car.


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"Shiftster", you're doing great work! :thumbsup: I hope it's going back yellow with black stripes!… :yes:

Claude. ;)
 

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I had never been this deep in an engine and took my time. I had lots of help from my twin daughters who were all about helping :hurray:

We found a little damage but nothing that a little TLC couldn’t fix. Mostly small dents and very little rust. The shop that blasted in let my painter friend come in and put a coat of epoxy primer on it for me. I wanted it primed even though it will need some body work so it would be safe from rust till we get to that stage.
As far as the epoxy primer and needing body work if you do a search on the Body forum you'll see that it's OK to use body filler over the epoxy primer and some late model car co's even insist on that for rust protection when repairing accident damage. It's great that you have let it become a family project :yes: your kids will remember things about the Chevelle long after they become adults .
 
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