In the world of weekend racers and backyard mechanics, the home garage becomes more than just a place to park your cars. It is transformed into a fabrication facility, a body shop, or whatever else may be needed to complete the task at hand. Though the rough beginnings of some projects would send people who don't understand the passion we have for our cars running for the hills, the satisfaction of turning something a little less beautiful into the incredible, makes all the late nights well worth it.
Maryland's Jim Wingo is a retired Verizon engineer and an avid home mechanic. Over the years, many projects have been started and finished in his home shop and the path to his garage is well-worn, bearing proof to his time invested. As some of his new projects rolled (or were dragged) into the backyard, even Jim wondered if he had lost his mind, but he always found the means to revive what seemed unsalvageable.
All it took was a ride in a Z06 Corvette and the groundwork was laid for his newest endeavor. Blending '60s muscle with the latest technology became the focus and Jim set out to find his car. His search came to an end when an ad in the local paper netted him a '69 Chevelle 300 sedan. "I love the old `post' muscle cars," Jim explains. "There's something about that cheap body style, but with a lot of power."
Although Jim's Chevelle had a bent frame from a prior accident, the rest of the car was solid and a donor car with a straight frame and a 12-bolt rear accompanied it. Having completed many frame-off rebuilds in the past, Jim was no stranger to swapping the rails, and after the donor frame was stripped and painted, the 300 body was fitted and bolted down. Jim installed new floors and quarter-panels to ensure everything was strong and straight. In preparation for the hi-tech powerplant that would soon sit under the hood, the Chevelle was taken to S&W Racecars in Pennsylvania, where a roll bar was installed to add a little extra rigidity and keep Jim safe. As soon as the car returned, a few coats of PPG paint were laid on to protect the new bodywork.
Turning his attention to the soon-to-be heart and soul of his project, Jim picked up a 6.0L, Gen III mill at the local junkyard. In the search for more power, Jim turned to Bub Whitaker at Burtonsville Performance Machine in Maryland, and after planning out the build, Whitaker machined the block and installed fresh internals. The 4.005-inch bores were filled with Wiseco pistons and Scat connecting rods, which used the stock crankshaft to set it all in motion. A Z06 camshaft from GMPP was installed and Jim took his new engine home to finish the assembly. The LQ4 cylinder heads were reinstalled and the build was almost complete. To add an old-school touch to this new-school powerplant, an LS Victor Jr. intake and Holley 750cfm carburetor were installed.
Once the powerplant was resting comfortably between the frames rails, Jim started installing the Corvette accessory drive and D1SC supercharger from ProCharger. ATI Performance Products set Jim up with an 8-rib balancer and crank pinning kit. In order to maximize the D1SC snail, Jim sent his Holley carb to Carburetor Solutions Unlimited in Fontana, California, where it was prepped to accept the 13-pounds of boost the ProCharger was ready to pump out.
The exhaust gasses exit via a set of Hooker headers and Flowmaster 50-series mufflers. Power is transferred to the transmission through a PAE switch-pitch 400 converter. "My plan was to use a 4L80E overdrive transmission, but I always wanted to build a switch-pitch Turbo 400," Jim tells us. The 1300/3000-stall converter transfers power to the Turbo 400 gearbox, which flawlessly handles the gear changes.
Out back, the 12-bolt rear-end was updated with an Eaton differential and 3.55 gear set. Billet Specialty wheels sit fore and aft with Kelley radial rubber cushioning the front, while Mickey Thompson ET Street radials wrap the rears. Eibach springs lower the Chevelle one inch all around, and adjustable shocks from Competition Engineering assist with the weight transfer and help keep the rear wheels planted to the pavement. The rearend housing is held securely in place by adjustable upper control arms and solid lower control arms from Edelbrock.
With the power and handling under control, Jim turned his attention to the interior, and enlisted the help of his good friend, Jim Conners. The stock bench seat was covered in new vinyl and a black carpet from Custom Auto Carpet was installed giving the driver's compartment an original feel. Auto Meter gauges were installed to help Jim keep an eye on the happenings under the hood, along with a B&M ProRachet shifter to handle the gear changes.
Once the engine was tuned, Jim's Chevelle cranked out a tire-shredding 476-rwhp and produced a best quarter-mile time of 10.99 at 122 mph. Future plans include a custom cylinder head and cam package from Patriot Performance. With a goal of low 10-seconds quarter-mile times, we think it's a great idea.