If you're the owner of a tattoo shop, it's almost mandatory that you drive a cool car. If someone sees you pull up to work in a Prius, they're most likely going to head elsewhere unless they have giant butterflies on the agenda. Slingin' Ink Tattoo owner J.C. Rodriguez has the car part down pat, with a clean 1972 Chevelle he drives anywhere and everywhere. But that's not the kicker. "A lot of people think it's just a nice, old classic with some chrome wheels," J.C. says,” but it's not." What actually powers the old Chevy is a 6.0L LQ4 LS motor that was swapped in by Matt's Fab Shop in Orland, California. If LS power wasn't enough, Matt also built a custom turbo setup using an 80mm S400 BorgWarner turbocharger, then backed the whole thing with a Tremec T56 Magnum transmission. "Especially on country roads, getting sideways in Third or Fourth gear is no problem," says car builder Matt. J.C. added, "It also starts and fires up every day, and I can drive to work, no problem." Matt continues, "The look on peoples’ faces is priceless. At a car show where people were trying to figure out how much 350 rwhp was in flywheel horsepower, the Chevelle made 620 hp to the wheels at 10 psi and 684 hp at 12 psi; it's at 16 psi now, which we figure is good for about 800 hp."
"I drive the car everywhere, that's why I went with the manual transmission," J.C. says. "If you can't have fun in your daily driver, what's the point? And this car was built to be as fun as possible.” While we're always on the lookout for cool power combinations and cool rides, J.C.'s Chevelle combines it all into one neat, little package. We know he's having fun in his commuter car, are you?
Matt sourced a 6.0L LQ4 iron truck motor out of the junkyard for the Chevelle project. They offered him no warranty, nor would they tell him the mileage on the engine, but that didn't deter him. He took the engine apart, checked for major damage, then fitted it with ARP studs, LS9 head gaskets, and a Lil' John Motorsports Stage 3 camshaft with Brian Tooley Racing valvesprings and pushrods. The entire bottom end is stock, including the crank, rods, pistons, ring gaps, and oiling system.
Boost doesn't end with a turbocharger, and a lot of work was put into taking pressure from the compressor and cramming it into the engine. A Holley Hi-Ram was the manifold of choice, with a 417 Motorsports air-to-water intercooler sandwiched in between. An Edelbrock 70mm throttle-body directs air into the engine.
A fairly intricate fuel system was needed to keep the LS engine at its peak performance. Starting with a Holley Dominator pump back at the tank, 91 octane travels up to twin Holley fuel rails and into 83-lb/hr Holley injectors. The engine's fuel management, timing, and data logging is all performed through Holley’s HP EFI system.
An 80mm turbocharger from BorgWarner got the nod for boost creation and was spec'd with a 96mm turbine wheel and 1.25 A/R for this application. To combat boost creep, twin 50mm JGS wastegates were incorporated on the exhaust side. The exhaust manifolds are the simplest part of the system, as they are a set of flipped stockers with V-bands welded on the ends.
J.C. and Matt agreed that manual transmissions were more fun, so they made it happen. A T56 Magnum transmission was installed into the Chevelle with a custom crossmember, along with a Monster Clutches Level 3 clutch. A stout Moser 9-inch rearend with 3.89 gears backs everything up at the tires.