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Techin' In With Fletch - March 2014

Dan Fletcher Feb 14, 2014
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Got a restoration question that's been puzzling you? Send it to:
[ m ] Super Chevy, Fletch, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.
[ e ] questions4fletch@yahoo.com [ f ] 813-675-3557

VIN Follow Up

I really enjoy Super Chevy magazine and reading your Techin' in with Fletch column. I recently read your response to a VIN question and have a follow up question.

I've attached a picture of the VIN from my 1956 Bel Air. It only has nine characters, but also has a stamp “C” on it. I believe the “B” is for Baltimore. Did they put the “C” on for extra identification? Can you shed any light on this VIN, which has one less numerical character, but yet one extra letter? For what it's worth, I bought the car on eBay in 2008, and it came from the Philadelphia area. Thank you for any help you can provide.


Denny Jones
Grand Blanc, MI

That is actually a 10 digit VIN, with the “C” acting as the first character, so it reads C56B052506. Apparently the person running the stamp machine was having a bad day, lol. If it were an 11 digit number, it would therefore have to start with a “V,” which in turn denotes that it was a V8 car. Your VIN, with no “V” and at 10 digits, dictates that it was a six-cylinder car. The “C” speaks to the model series of the car, which in your case decodes as a 2400. The next two digits are obvious, 56 indicating 1956. The next letter is the assembly plant code, and you are correct, the “B” stands for Baltimore, Maryland. The last sequence of numbers is the serial number of the car. In 1956, each assembly plant started with 1001.

Crate Expectations

I have a 1971 SS Chevelle that I've owned since I was 17. I am 54 and in the process of getting it restored, as it has been sitting in a barn for 34 years. Originally it had a stock 454 engine, but it had been removed and replaced with a 402. I want to go with a new GM crate engine and I'm looking at the ZZ 502/502 hp or the ZZ 572/620 hp. The car has a four-speed M22 transmission from the factory. Can you give me advice on which direction I should go with between these two engines?

Richard Nice
Charles City, Va

That's pretty awesome that you never sold it over such a long period of time. I bet you've had many, many offers. I just hope the years didn't take too much of a toll on the old girl. As for the motor transplant, clearly, this is a question of personal preference if you don't have some specific goal in mind that I'm not aware of. There is not a wrong choice or a bad answer involved; both engines are bad-ass! Here is a link to each from the Summit website Summit Racing - Chevrolet Performance ZZ502 C.I.D. 502 HP Engine Assemblies and Summit Racing - Chevrolet Performance ZZ572 C.I.D. 620 HP Engine Assemblies

If I can read into your situation a little bit, I'm going to guess that this just going to be a fun, street-type cruiser that you simply want to sound and perform well. It's not like it's an all-out racecar that needs every hundredth of a second we can find. So with that said, I would recommend the 502. It's got plenty of snot for what you're doing, and it comes in almost $4k cheaper than the 572, which is huge difference in my book. And as this writing, Summit is currently offering free shipping (though that could change by our publication date). All in all, I'm more than confident that you'll be totally content with the 502 package.

Cheap Speed

In your December column you mentioned the 383 that you built for your son's Nova. Would you share your parts combo/specs? The 480/480 hp/tq for $3,500 bucks in parts is music to my ears.

Phil Finnell
Via email

To be honest with you, I didn't even have $3,500 in the parts. I stumbled across an ad on Craigslist from someone that had bought all the parts directly from Summit. Everything was brand new in the box, most with receipts. The guy had gathered up all the parts for a project and then changed course, so I was able to slide in and put everything in the truck for $2,500. All I was short was a balancer, starter, and distributor. At the time, I priced out all of the components at Summit, and I approximated the value at about $3,500.

It was a while back now, but I can remember most everything that was used, and it was all directly from Summit. The block was a Summit deal that was already to go Summit Racing - 355 or 383 Chevy Remanufactured Engine Blocks SUM-150100 , the rotating assembly was something like this from Eagle (Summit Racing - Eagle Street and Strip Rotating Assemblies B13056L030), and the heads were close to these (Summit Racing - Summit Racing Street & Strip® Cylinder Heads for Small Chevy SUM-162111). I don't recall the exact part number, but it had a mild Comp Cams hydraulic roller, budget roller rockers, some Summit brand intake and valve covers, and a stock type pan.

We ran it with a 1.87 first gear ATI powerglide, an 8-inch ATI converter, a 750 cfm Quick Fuel carburetor, Cal Trac bars/springs, and a set of 9-inch Mickey Thompson stocker tires. Timothy used both the trans brake and straight foot brake during the course of the season, and I really don't think the car ever even thought of turning the tire. Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't exactly a wheel stander, but it was deadly in 60-ft, and that's what you want when you're bracket racing. He'd leave the starting line around 3,500 rpm, shift at 5,700 or 5,800, and cross about 6,000. From track to track and with varying weather conditions, the car ran from as slow as 11 flat to as fast as 10.70s.

After some initial new car blues, the Nova ran like a champ. Timbo made over 150 runs this past season, and we never really even got the car out till around the first of June. While both consistent and reliable was good, it tallied a goose egg in the parts breakage column as well, which might be even better. I'm honestly not sure whether I should be proud or embarrassed, but I don't think I ever had the valve covers off.

Build Sheet Hunting

I recently bought a 1969 Chevelle SS396 from the son of the original owner. I also got paperwork with the Chevelle proving that it is in fact a real SS396, but no build sheet. I know the previous owner had the front and back seats out, as well as the carpeting, but no build sheet was found. I would say the car is 90 percent original. Could it be on top of the gas tank? Did they always put a build sheet in every '69 Chevelle? What other places did they put them?

I love the mag and it's always got to be a Chevy! Thanks for any help you may provide.

Russ in Iowa
Via email

I can certainly understand your desire to locate the build sheet. The build sheet is a great record of the parts used in production and is way up on the list of documentation that can be used to prove or verify a given car's authenticity. But let's be clear, there's no guarantee that a build sheet was even left in your car; it's not like it was part of the option package. They were simply documents to aid workers in the construction of the vehicle. With that said, many times they were left with the car, and it could have been left virtually anywhere in the interior, potentially under the carpet, on the back of a door panel, or in the rear seat springs. I understand it could be in the upper front fender well as well, and yes, it could even be on top of the gas tank. Happy hunting…



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