1971 Chevy Chevelle - Low-Buck Bounce

Matt Daeseleer Runs 10s On The Cheap

Terry Ward Feb 1, 2010 0 Comment(s)

Hey, look. Here's a guy just like the rest of us; our kind of hot rodder, with our kind of budget, both in hours and in meager stacks of greenbacks. Matt Daeseleer is a 37-year-old sanitation truck driver from Valencia, California, who supports and nurtures a wife, four kids, and a serious go-fast habit, so whatever he thought about doing had to be strictly bound by a financial barbwire fence. If there was ever a poster kid for the low-buck nation, it could be Matt.

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Boys's no stranger to the muscle car era, no stranger to getting down and dirty either, having gummed his way through no less than eight '60s and '70s Chevelles and El Caminos. He estimates about $14,000 for his latest investment, this low-mileage '70 A-Body.

"I bought the car from a good friend for $2,600, charged the battery and started running it," proclaimed Matt. "I started out going 17.20s at Palmdale [2,780 feet above sea level], but with a little tuning, I got it down to a healthy 13.50." Once the fuse was burning merrily, however, there was no snuffing it out. Matt had tasted a few drops of blood and he was ready to take it right to the throat of his Chevelle, albeit on a budget but with a modest batch of juice.

"I built a mild 11:1 358-inch street bullet and was only looking to go 12.50s with it and then adding a bottle at a later date. The first pass on the new motor was 12.71 at 110.50, which was better than I'd expected [the car weighs 4,125 pounds with him in it]. Adding the bottle got me booted off the track. I'd run an 11.10 at 124!"

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To legalize his budget buster, Paul and the crew at Little People Customs in Ventura, California, "built the best hidden rollcage I have ever seen. With the 'cage and slicks, the car went 10.96 at 122.03 at Bakersfield [364 feet above sea level]."

When Matt assumed this project he looked at all the ways he didn't have to blow unnecessary dough. All the tubular this and that in the world wasn't going to help his decidedly track-oriented bomb. He didn't need anything beyond what an NHRA-legal Stocker would require. You can change out the suspension only so far as springs, shocks, and bushings are concerned, thus excluding pricey tubular control arms and the like. Matt took ownership like most hot rodders still do: massage the basic systems down solid and friction-free and you're lookin' like a winner. All you really want to do is make some noise, burn some rubber, go fast, and drag it back home, so you retain as much of the original vehicle as possible.

Same goes for Matt's mouse motor, which is sustained by a mixture of off-the-shelf hardware as well as previously abused parts. He built his engine addressing all of the vital internal areas with forged parts and sprung for aluminum castings at the first opportunity. Perhaps more amazing is that the pabulum little-block produces just 302 lb-ft of torque at 5,800 rpm and 326 hp at 6,300 rpm normally aspirated. To catapult the Chevelle to devilish sub-11-second times, Matt turned to a 150hp shot of juice. Pretty straightforward stuff it is, every bit of it proven countless times a week nationwide, on the dragstrip ... and on the street.

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Regardless of the budget-beater philosophy, Matt knows the value of a properly prepared rear suspension system. He wants to leave the starting line on the straight and narrow with no untoward motion eating away at the car's elapsed time. He fixed the pinion angle at the proper degree with adjustable upper control arms and nixed wheelhop with sturdy aftermarket lower arms. A thick antisway bar mounted conventionally helps the Chevelle out of the hole with a minimum of fuss and keeps it tracking straight down course. Rugged simplicity reigns supreme within the Salisbury axle.

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