Now the time had come to give this early muscle machine some muscle. "The car was basically built with parts and stuff I had in the attic," said Brent. "The motor was built in 2002, and it was one of the many parts and pieces we took off the shelf and put towards the Chevelle. We looked for parts at swap meets, took them home and brightened them up, and went about things as a low-budget build. It goes to show that you don't always need the expensive parts to build a nice car."
Long gone were the 327 and the four-speed the SS originally came with, but that was okay for Brent. In place of the 327 went the engine Brent just happened to have lying around, an .030-over 350. The block was filled with a balanced and blueprinted rotating assembly that consisted of a stock crank and TRW pistons. Sitting atop the short-block is a set of cast iron 041 heads topped with Comp Cams 1.6 ratio roller rockers. As for cam specs, the shaft advertises .490 intake lift and .475 exhaust lift, with duration figures of 287 and 305, respectively. Compression ratio was set at a respectable 11:1, and the long-block was finished off with the inclusion of a Weiand intake and a Holley 750 carburetor.
Once the bullet was slung under the hood, a pair of Hedman 1 5/8-inch headers were bolted up along with a 2 1/2-inch Flowmaster exhaust complimented with a crossover pipe and a twin set of Thrush mufflers. A 140-amp alternator was rigged up to provide enough juice to fire the engine's ignition system as well as the thundering stereo system, and then, according to Brent the crown jewel of the engine, was installed. "By far, the best part of the car is the clear valve covers," Brent exclaims. "The roller rockers and such look so good, why hide them?" The valve covers in question are aluminum and Lexan pieces fabricated by Lane Custom Products per Brent's specifications. After that, the custom air cleaner was fabbed up by Brent and Eric, and the bonnet was closed. It's definitely a unique setup.
Backing the estimated 400 horsepower Mouse is a '92 vintage 700R4 overdrive transmission that came courtesy of Chapman Transmissions. A 2,500 stall converter gets the A-body rolling after the power is transferred to the GM 10-bolt rear stuffed with 3.36 gears and an Auburn differential.
Getting the power to the ground and the stance just right is an eclectic mix of simple suspension parts. One-inch drop spindles combine with the factory A-arms, Gabriel shocks, and a 1 1/4-inch sway bar to get the nose down a total of 1 1/2 inches, while boxed rear trailing arms and a 1-inch rear sway bar get the hind end to squat. Late-model Camaro SS rims, sized 17x9.5 all around, were then bolted up, but not before they were wrapped up in BFGoodrich 275/40ZR17 hoops. Hiding behind the chrome shoes is a complete front and rear CPP brake upgrade showcasing 13-inch rotors up front and 12-inch discs out back.
"The most difficult part of this build was having patience," Brent explains. "When you're trying to teach a young boy how things work, why you do things a certain way, and why things take time, it takes a lot of patience. It's very time consuming, but having Eric in my lap cruising around driving the car in a parking lot makes it all worthwhile."
While it took six months of non-stop work to get the Chevelle back on the road, young Evan Casteel learned a lifetime of lessons from his dad, Brent. Guess you can say that class was dismissed when the 355 was fired up. We give both teacher and student an A--body that is!