Having a cool car project to work on is one of the best ways to keep a young teenager's hands busy and the usual inner teen turmoil in check. Being a VP at Edelbrock, and having a teenage son, Steve Whipple knew a car project would be a great way to spend time with his 16-year-old son Mikey, and keep the young man's mind focused. It would also be Edelbrock's entry into the 2009 Super Chevy Suspension & Handling Challenge, presented by Nitto Tire (January 2010 issue).
After some searching, a suitable foundation was found in the form of a '67 Chevelle. It had been sitting at the end of a dirt road in Hesperia, California, for 15 years. The A-body was pretty sun baked, but had little rust and was a factory air car with straight body lines. A deal was struck and the A-body headed home with Steve and son to begin its new life.
Since Edelbrock was coming out with a new line of A-body suspension parts, how to improve the car's handling was a no brainer. Steve went with Edelbrock's Pro Touring Suspension kit, PN 52064. Here's what was installed from the kit, and each part's individual part number:
• Edelbrock Lower Trailing Arms, PN 5205
• Edelbrock Upper Trailing Arms, PN 5248
• Edelbrock Front Sway Bar (4130 chromoly steel), PN 52870
• Edelbrock Rear Sway Bar (1045 steel), PN 52871
• Edelbrock Coil Spring Set, PN 5240
• Edelbrock Classic Shocks, front PN 33041; rear PN 34041
• Edelbrock Rear Frame Supports (adjustable), PN 5284
For motivation to make the most of the Chevelle's improved handling, Steve built a 400 cid small-block using a GM Bow Tie block, Scat crank, Probe pistons, Edelbrock heads, Crane hydraulic roller cam, Edelbrock E-Tec 200 aluminum heads, ARP fasteners, and feeding fuel and air to the big mouse is an Edelbrock Pro-Flo 2 EFI system. A Be Cool radiator keeps the engine from blowing its top, and the exhaust spits out through a custom set of ceramic coated headers to an Edelbrock stainless steel exhaust system with X-crossover. A Billet Specialties Tru-Trac front accessory drive handles the add-ons.
A Tremec TKO-600 five-speed with Center Force clutch in a Lakewood bellhousing sends power to the Moser built 9-inch rear end spinning 3.73 gears out back. The car rolls on American Torq Thrust II wheels wrapped in Nitto NT05 rubber. Fast Ed's upholstery in Torrance, California, took care of recovering the stock interior in black vinyl and laying some new carpet on the floors from Original Parts Group.
Driver's Impression - On the Autocross Course
The Edelbrock '67 Chevelle did pretty well considering that the steering was OEM and followed it up with a double-whammy, a small diameter steering wheel. My first run was a "get to know each other" and I quickly got this car figured out. I immediately realized that getting turned was all in preparation and the key to getting through the initial offset slalom. I had to turn the steering wheel before the apex cone, turn it very fast, and turn it a lot to get through this element ... and then start this all over again for the next apex while barely through the one I'd just passed. Even when the car was traveling straight, there was that "prepare for the next corner" thought. If I remember correctly, there was no place the steering wheel ever got a rest!!! There was also no forgiveness in car placement as each inch of course mattered here. What was interesting is that at the speed I was carrying, the Chevelle would momentarily slide, then catch, almost turning itself. I used this to my advantage and it helped immensely. I also thought the car felt very flat with minimal body lean as it transitioned well through the course elements.
It was cool that I could push the Chevelle pretty hard. There was a hint of understeer leading up to the end sweeper but this was managed by slowing my corner entry speed. I was impressed with the power on corner exit and how well the car reacted to throttle application. On my first run, I got too deep into the entry for the sweeper, turned in, requested brakes, and ruh roh!!! Serious axle hop started ... and the axle chattered away for about five seconds. Got the Chevelle slowed back down, the rear axle got happy again, and we merrily continued over the hump leaving the sweeper in our wake. Note to self: Get slowed down sooner, brake in a straight line, and don't insult the car!
Like others, the Chevelle liked to play "throw and catch" for the final fast section of the course and was easy to position most any place you wanted. Looking ahead was mandatory and my butt-dyno talked me through the tight sections of the course. This is a very fun and easy car to drive quickly. Driven respectfully, I never felt like the car could even approach recalcitrant handling that could get someone in trouble. - Mary Pozzi