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1979 Chevy El Camino - The Ultimate Sleeper

Mike Lambert's Silent but Deadly '79 El Camino

By Andrew Schear

As you roll up to the burnout box, the flamed '69 Chevelle pulls up next to you. All you can hear is the lopey sound of his over-cammed engine. Then there are the thoughts of your car pulling ahead in the last few feet. Some 12.50 seconds later, you realize you've won and are pleased to say the least. If only the guy in the other lane knew what you had hiding under the shy sheetmetal of your otherwise stock-looking '79 El Camino, he'd have never toyed with you in the first place.

No, this didn't actually happen, but it seemed logical to make up the story. It represents everything that Mike Lambert, owner of the Elky, was going after when he decided to build the Ultimate Sleeper. Mike's intensions were simple: Build a fast, smog-legal street machine that can haul, tow and spank every 17-year-old kid in a Mustang 5.0, but it had to look and sound stock.

Mike began the project almost 2 years ago when he started collecting parts. While most guys would probably make one change at a time, still keeping their machines drivable, Mike decided to acquire parts first and do all the swapping of parts in one very, very long weekend. Lucky for Mike he had Michael, the cylinder head expert, Craig, the skydiver with an affinity for cars, Marty, the neurologist, and Dave, the owner of the garage where the swap was to take place. We know they sound like a motley crew, but they did the work of a small army of mechanics and they did it in one weekend.

The 406 powerplant, TH400 transmission and all the necessary components were catalogued and ready for installation. It was a simple matter of removing the old and installing the new, but as we all know the word "simple" hardly ever plays into a project.

After the candle had been burned at both ends, the crew was ready to see her run; unfortunately they forgot one minor detail, a driveshaft. Fortunately for Mike, Inland Empire Driveline Service works quickly. The next business day, a brand new cool looking aluminum driveshaft was delivered by the UPS man. As our lead burnout picture shows, this G-body is back on the road, mean as ever. Can anyone build a 440hp street machine overnight? Sure, all it takes is four experts and a truckload of parts.

TECH SPECS Owner Mike Lambert
Vehicle '79 El Camino
Engine
Block 400-inch SB
Crankshaft Lunati 3.750-inch stroke
Rods Crower Sportsman Stroker 6-inch, 4340 steel, 7/16-inch cap screws
Pistons Wiesco reverse dome forged, 9.2:1
Heads Holley aluminum smog heads, 2.02-intake, 1.60-exhaust valves, Comp Cams 1.6 roller rockers, Comp Cams titanium retainers and springs, port work by Slover’s Porting Service
Camshaft Crane dual pattern hydraulic roller, emission sensitive 50-state legal grind
Intake Manifold Holley dual-plane smog legal intake, port matched by Slover's Porting Service
Carburetion Holley 800-cfm spread bore
Transmission '69 TH400 Buick switchpitch (two converters in one), Gear Vendor OD
Suspension
Front Global West front control arms, GM 11-inch disc brakes, gas shocks, Grand National sway bar
Rear 9-inch housing, 4.11:1 gears, Global West rear lower control arms, Morrison upper control arms, Currie axles, Auburn limited slip, gas shocks, Grand National sway bar
SOURCES
Inland Empire Driveline Svcs.
4035 East Guasti Rd., Ste.301
Dept. SC
Ontario
CA  91761
By Andrew Schear
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