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1965 Chevy Malibu - Deadblow

Stealth Is as Stealth Does

Ro McGonegal Feb 27, 2007

When you see this Chevelle, think of that evil jack-in-the-box snapping out of its hidey hole, razor teeth sparkling as it rips your head off resultant. Blood spatters. Meantime, the nasty thing is back in his box before anyone can say boo. Hah! Welcome to Memphis.

For most of its hot rod life, Kevin "Umgowah" Thompson's '65 Malibu has been the epitome of stealth. Had the stuff goin' for it: steel wheels, dog-dish 'caps, and that flesh-colored original GM Sandalwood "paint." It's enough to upset a turkey vulture's stomach. It was quick and powerful but carried "stealth weight" that it did not need. In spite of its heft and traction deficit, the thing cranked off low 9.40s at 145 "on the edge the whole way," opines KT. As such, the 'Bu had hit the performance nail strip and it would ascend no higher.

As its old self, the engine was 580-inch, high-comp Milodon Rat clone. Race gas was mandatory. For better or worse, the Hot Rod Pump Gas Drags changed all that. KT's entry was accepted for the second event. He had a few months to make a drastic conversion centered on a new motor combo and the shameless shedding of ugly fat. Naturally, this all went against KT's credo: Keep it as stock-looking as possible, and never ever cut the car. To fit anything larger than a 29x9.00 slick (the biggest tire that would fit in the factory wheelhouse) he'd have to crumple up his credo and mini-tub the Malibu.

Traumatized by the thought of the impending chainsaw massacre, KT looked north to Atoka, fetching body/tech experts Todd McCutchen and Benny Smith (collectively aka The Machines). The Machines did the cutting and the fitting while KT sourced a fabbed 4130 9-inch housing, narrowed it 4 inches per side, and gave it a back brace. Todd and Benny were there three nights a week for a month running the Sawzall, measuring, and making templates for the new flooring and sheetmetal.

As for positioning the housing, "I designed the brackets that would use the stock geometry suspension pick-up point, moving the lower ones inboard 4 inches. I e-mailed my drawings to O.H. Hendricks (sheetmetal works contractors), and they cut the design patterns with a laser from 4130 plates. The stock coil-spring mount was eliminated for space, so I used coilovers instead. New Dick Miller upper and lower control arms employ Heim ends and the lowers have a new diagonal brace that attaches to the axlehousing to eliminate any lateral swing."

Since it was a project car, it wouldn't have been right unless KT finished his new 598 the night before the PGD. He made the required PGD highway drive, but bringing an untried combination, he wisely used the event as a test-and-tune. On 315/60R15 M/T ET Streets, the Malibu went 9.49 at 145. The intake manifold was already plumbed with a dry fogger nitrous system so that two stages could be enabled by only one set of nozzles. At this writing, the juice jack-in-the-box hasn't popped bloody yet.

Kevin was also anxious to lessen weight at the front of the car. To that end, he assembled TRZ tubular upper and lower control arms, rack steering, and Strange Engineering double-adjustable coilover shock absorbers. With him in it, the ready-to-rock Malibu weighs 3,500 pounds. With all the changes, plus the double hit of juice, KT expects high-8-second capability at will. None of this affects street running. It's a god-awful rush, though, folks. One second you're here; the next you're way down the road, shot through, feeling the Malibu's effervescence in every fiber of your tired old body.

Thompson lopped off about 100 pounds of unsprung steel when he switched (oh, it wasn't without a fight, though) to flyweight Weld Alumastar 15x4 (Goodyear 28x4.5) and 15x10 forgings (M/T ET Street 315/ 60R Drag Radial and 29.0x10.5W on a 15x12). Now he's seen the error of his way. He gave the 'Bu better brakes too. Strictly drag-race oriented, the Aerospace Components disc brake package puts a 101/4-inch disc and a four-piston caliper at front and an 113/8-inch disc and four-pot caliper on the back. They work perfectly during normal street driving.

KT ran a squeezed 580-inch engine for years, but its compression ratio wouldn't abide pump gas. A street demon to the core, Thompson could no longer abide the price of race gas. In hopes of equaling past performance, he punched his trusty Donovan 500 to 4.600 inches (along with a 4.500-inch stroke) to realize 598 ci, though static compression is now 11:1 and quite amenable to pump gas.

After Thompson finished his blueprints, Tom Murdock at BB&T in Southaven, Mississippi, did the machine work and balancing. KT assembled the big bullet at his Hot Rod Solutions shop in Memphis with a Lunati crankshaft, aluminum connecting rods, and Venolia pistons. He capped the bottom end with a Titan oil pump and Billet Fabrication aluminum 7-quart sump. A big Comp solid roller (specs secret) pokes Manton pushrods and a T&D shaft rocker-arm system. KT stuck it all together with a Jesel belt timing gear.

The top end is matching Brodix stuff: CNC-ported Big Duke cylinder heads (Brodix valves, Comp springs) and a Big Duke intake manifold hosting a Full Throttle Performance 2,000-cfm air door. An MSD 7AL-3 box and Pro Coil send spark (32 degrees); the KT-built 23/8-inch primary pipe headers become a 4-inch system routed through an X-pipe and nasty DNA mufflers.

Though the motor is scary enough on nuts, N2O is KT's avatar and his seal. As yet untried, the Chevelle features a Nitrous Express dry fogger system fed by a pair of composite-construction bottles, complete with remote switch-on. KT means to equalize internal pressure with a Moroso 4-vane vacuum pump. The electronic fuel injection is controlled by a FAST XFI module.

With roughly 1,000 lb-ft of torque, the car could easily pull just one gear, but for the sake of expediency, KT enjoys a lightweight Second gear as per a JW Performance Ultra-Glide (1.76, 1.00:1). A Precision Industries 9-inch converter heads up the torque posse and kicks it out with a 4,200 stall speed. Tranny fluid is cooled through a Moroso heat exchanger.

A Mark Williams 4130 steel driveshaft twists the gaff to the Moser 9-inch aluminum center section fitted with a M-W pinion support, 3.60:1 gears on a M-W lightweight spool, and Moser gun-drilled 35-spline axle shafts.

The really neat thing about this car is the bald-faced-lie interior. There's not a hint of hink anywhere. Look, there's nothing to see: skinny-steering SS steering wheel, no tach, no shift light, no ratchet shifter, no driver wearing a backwards baseball cap. Stealth prep to the max: There are a lot of fibs hiding behind the glovebox door (Auto Meter tach, gauges, and various control boxes) and even more haunting the heater controls (transbrake, Line-Loc, cooling, data logger, parking brake, and bottle heaters). The only things out of the ordinary are the JAZ buckets that McCutchen upholstered in Sandalwood. A Spartan to the end.

A sleeper is for always. Save for the minimal fiberglass cowl hood, the Malibu's metal is untouched. Sandalwood dreams? I doubt it! Gee, let's watch the grass grow. On the other hand, what could be stealthier than this piece of cream cheese, huh, I ask you?

Kevin weaved an eight-point rollcage throughout and painted it the same color as the body to camouflage it from the wandering eye. The form of the mini-tub rear suspension changed drastically. With no room left for coil springs or conventional shock absorbers, KT posted Strange double adjustable coilovers.He located the 48-inch-wide axlehousing with a set of Dick Miller Heim-end control arms; the lower arms have a diagonal brace attached to the axle to void all lateral motion. A Wolf Racecraft (San Antonio, Texas) anti-sway bar pivots above the housing. At the Malibu's leading edge, TRZ tubular upper and lower control arms, Flaming River rack steering, and Strange double adjustable coilover shocks.

The new combo has not been certified. These numbers are for the 580ci combination: 760 lb-ft of torque at 6,535 and 980 hp at 7,000 rpm (780 rear-wheel).



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