We first spotted Del Orndorff's '65 Chevelle Malibu Super Sport in the staging lanes at Irwindale Raceway the day it reopened after a hiatus last year. Since then we've seen it every time we're at a track or event in SoCal. Speaking with Del about his ride and watching him race his all-steel S/S every week reveals his longtime passion for this hobby. You can also tell the Malibu you see in these pages has been his muscle car of choice for a long time. Six hundred bucks to the original owner back in 1970 and the Orndorffs had one of Chevy's coolest muscle cars in their possession. Over the next several years, Del had the 383ci stroker engine rebuilt, added a 200-R4 transmission, and Global West's tubular front suspension. These days, Del drives and races his Super Sport weekly at the eighth-mile dragstrip, and if you see it on the street, it's always on Mickey Thompson's ET Street tires.
Photographers have different methods for finding ideal shoot locations. We used Google Maps to find the perfect spot near Del's home in Chino, California. The road curved nicely to a hay bale–littered field, and tall, pointy trees lined the west side so we could cover the cool white Chevy in shade. This is where we met Del on one September afternoon on the seemingly empty road.
"Are you familiar with the actor Steve McQueen?" Del asked us while we set up the camera. "This was the reform school he went to." An interesting fact, we thought as we positioned the photo equipment over his 383ci stroker small-block engine. Meanwhile a security guard crept behind us, and we knew what would happen next. It wasn't the first time we've been shooed from a sweet location, but we learned you have to be careful of private roads that only look public from Google's map satellite.
We were able to find a location the following evening and get some shots of his California racer, hours before his S/S was to be upgraded with a performance torque converter. "I'm not hitting the tires like I should be," Del says about improving his car's e.t's, "but we're working on that with a Hughes torque converter." Del's best run to date has been 12.25 at 109 mph in the quarter-mile, but his sights are set on the 11-second zone with his naturally aspirated, 3,600-pound A-body. Del admits that the engine was built two decades ago, but is still running strong. In a world where everyone seems to want to go as fast and as hard as possible all the time, maybe a mild yet reliable muscle car that can run 11.99 all night on a weekly basis is what we need. It seems this car guy's figured that out.
Built by Performance Machine in Pomona, California, the engine underhood is a small-block Chevy that's been stroked to 383 with a 3.75-inch crankshaft. Topping the eight holes is a pair of Dart cylinder heads that have been ported and polished with 2.08 intake valves and solid roller valvesprings. Roller rocker arms from COMP Cams articulate the valve stems, while a custom-ground solid roller camshaft rolls in the cast-iron engine block. A pump gas–friendly 9:1 compression ratio from flat-top pistons means Del can run SoCal's low octanes, while an Edelbrock dual-plane intake manifold directs the air and fuel into the chamber. Topping the 450hp combination is a Holley 3310 carburetor setup by Performance Carburetors in Rancho Cucamonga. Directing the spent fumes are a pair of Hooker 13/4-inch headers that lead into Flowmaster mufflers. Behind the engine is a 200-R4 automatic transmission with a 3,200-rpm torque converter.
Wheels, Brakes & Suspension
The wheels on Del's '65 come from Summit Racing and measure 15x4 in the front and 15x8 in the rear. The front tires are 26x6 Mickey Thompsons, while the rears are sticky M/T ET Streets, measuring in at 11.50/28/15. Bringing the hefty two-door to a halt are Wilwood disc brakes mounted on stock spindles at each corner. The suspension and chassis under Del's Chevelle consists of QA1 rear shocks, Edelbrock front shocks, and Moroso Trick Springs.
Del replaced the dim, stock taillight units with LED versions on his '65, which seem about 10 times brighter than stock. However, for the most part this ride looks as sanitary as they come: stock hood, all the chrome in place, and a clean white paintjob. Chrome, 2.5-inch tailpipes from a Flowmaster-muffled exhaust system poke out under the rear of the car, waiting to rumble.
The inside of Del's mobile is a stock interior that's been outfitted a Grant steering wheel, B&M shifter, and all the gear needed to race on a regular basis. LED-equipped Auto Meter gauges are positioned underdash, while an Auto Meter tachometer with a shift light sits glaring at the driver on the steering column, waiting to shine. No plans on putting a rollbar in here, however see how you feel about that after you run 11.99, eh Del?