1969 Chevy Chevelle SS - Timing Is Everything

Bob Saltarelli transforms his daily-driver into a showtime head-turner

Ro McGonegal Mar 10, 2008 0 Comment(s)
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Bob centered on some oval-port iron heads and complemented them with an Edelbrock RPM Performer intake manifold and a Mighty Demon 750-cfm carburetor. That distributor lurking in the shadows is an MSD HEI unit sprouting Accel 8.8mm wires. Unburned hydrocarbons and other effluvia move quickly through the ceramic-coated Doug's 2-inch primaries and into a 2 -inch diameter exhaust fitted with a crossover pipe and raucous Flowmaster 40s. On the driving end, Bob bolted a Turbo 400 (prepped by Kevin) to the 468-incher, preceding it with a TCI 2,800-rpm stall speed converter. The throttle body retains normal shift pattern.

He scrubbed the engine compartment and scraped off all the superfluous stuff, finished the wheelhouses in gloss black, contrasted the firewall in matte gray, and put smaller, more compact systems in place of large and inefficient ones. All of it pops the nicely detailed engine right up front. Bob looked to the chassis with more than beauty in mind. Since he was building a 500hp engine, he wanted the car to absorb large jolts of power and torque in stride, not shrink like it was grabbed from behind in some damn sleeper hold.

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Forget Pro Touring. All Bob wanted to do here was add some active handling measures should he have to avoid the ass end of an SUV, not hanging the rear end of the Chevelle out on the Ortega Highway. Powerful, linear stopping characteristics are part of that machine. Bob built the reformed suspension around better steering geometry inherent in B-body spindles and decorated them with Hotchkis tubular upper and lower control arms, 1-3/8-inch hollow anti-sway bar, 2-inch drop coil springs, and KYB shock absorbers. In the rear of the car, he posted a J.S. Gear-assembled 12-bolt axle fitted with 3.42:1 gears and a Posi-traction differential, Hotchkis 2-inch drop coils, adjustable upper links and lower controls arms with polyurethane bushings. To match the front bar, Bob included a Hotchkis solid 1-inch diameter piece.

Though often overlooked by those who can't seem to get the 15-inch rim syndrome, the original brakes, no matter how many times they are rebuilt, remain less than what the car really needs to burn off big energy in a hurry. To that end, Bob pedals Baer brakes with a 13-inch rotor at every corner. Bigger than average brakes invite larger, more contemporary rolling stock, not something that looks straight out of the '70s. Highly polished Budnik 18x8 and 20x10 GTX rims receive BFG g-Force 245/40s and 295/40s. Everything looks like it's right where it belongs.

Bright-metal trim and bumpers were re-chromed by Superior Plating in Inglewood, CA, while Gem Tech down Huntington Beach way applied subtle shades of powdercoat. The Chevelle poses a clean, compact silhouette without any drastic sheetmetal rearrangement because of this: the PPG Sunset Orange, the relationship between the tops of the tires and the fender wells, and the polished wheel/design all have sympathy for one another and the combination works out like a real mother.

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Since we suspect Bob is heavy on the cruise aspect, inhospitable appointments just aren't tolerated. Bob wants to feel like he's in a cruisin' car, not a racin' car, so it's all down-home comfort looking pretty much the way it always has. The vinyl is new but the color is the same. There are tunes...coming out of the Alpine-amped Pioneer speakers, front and rear, daddy-o. Bob kept the original dashboard and instrument panel, but added to the array with some choice Auto Meter ancillaries.

If he had it to do differently, Bob would have liked, you know, more power. Not too far down the road, he's wanting to add some more, you know, power, in the form of a 502 or a 572. After all, gotta give that Hotchkis stuff hell.




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