The quest for "Streetability" is the goal sought by most every hot rodder. Early Cro-Magnon man beat his chest and dragged his knuckles across the ground in a quest for fire. As the knuckle draggers evolved, the desire for fire increased and was never quenched. Instead of dragging knuckles, we drag cars. Our fires are contained in cubic-inch monsters, rather than an open pit to ward off monsters. Oh, and dinosaurs, we put them in our tank to feed our newfangled fires.
In 2003, Bill Burke, a modern man and modern hot rodder, fulfilled his quest for streetability in the form of a 1970 Malibu. Nestled in the Georgia pines of Marietta, Bill found this '70 Chevelle for sale not too far from his home near Athens. It belonged to a local Cromag high schooler who'd had his fire extinguished by local law enforcement. Too many tickets and the car went up for sale.
The first goal was to transform the sheepish Malibu into a fire-breathing monster. Automotive surgery was performed the very first weekend that Bill owned it. Immediately the wrenches were put to work and the worn out 350/350 combo and passive 10-bolt rear were replaced that weekend. In their stead went a very respectable 383 with a solid cam and heavy breathing AFR heads.
In the back forty, a freshly built 12-bolt sporting 3.73 gears rounded out the first of many, many upgrades. Daylight was burning and so was the desire to get out to the local track and race. This engine combination was fine for about a year, but once a guy goes fast, he wants to go faster.
In early 2004, the Chevelle went back under the wrench, this time for some real modifications. A six-point rollcage was installed, and the car went from a cowardly yellow to a regal bright white. The 383 was replaced with an even bigger monster: a 540 big-block. A Merlin III block was used with a 4.500 bore. A Callies Dragon Slayer forged crank with a 4.25 stroke pushes the Manley rods and SRP 10cc domed pistons. The engine has been internally balanced and fit with a Milodon 7-quart pan with baffles, crank scraper, and windage tray.
The upper half of the engine consists of AFR 335cc fully CNC-ported heads with 2.300 intake valves, 1.880 exhaust valves, Manley Nextek springs, and titanium retainers option angle milled to 107cc chambers. Also, there's a Comp Cam custom grind consisting of .753 lift with duration of 266@.050 on the intake and .742 lift with a duration of 271@.050 on the exhaust. Sitting on top of the cam are Isky Red Zone solid roller lifters with Comp Cam custom-length 7.16-inch pushrods and comp Pro Magnum 1.7 ratio rockers.
The intake is an Edelbrock Super Victor that has been CNC-ported by Reher Morrison and topped by a Barry Grant King Demon 1,095-cfm carb. Pulling out the spent gasses is a set of Hooker Super Comp 2 1/8-inch headers into 3 1/2-inch collectors with a Pypes 3-inch crossover Race Flo system. The transmission is a TH400 built by Coan Racing with a 4,500-rpm stall.
For suspension Bill uses second-generation Camaro tall spindles with stock 11-inch discs with Global West tubular A-arms and Koni shocks. Koni double adjustable shocks are used in the rear with QA-1 170-pound springs. The total weight of the vehicle with the driver is 3,759 pounds.
All this and Bill cruises every weekend on 93 octane pump gas. His best time to date is 6.34 at 108 mph in the eighth-mile and 10.01 at 136.3 mph in the quarter.
One passing look at this Malibu and it might be tempting to dismiss it as one of Bo Peep's little white lambs. That was the master plan: to make it look as unassuming as possible, when really it's a Saturday night cruiser and a quarter-mile carnivore cooking with fire.