Techin' In With Fletch - May 2014

Dan Fletcher Mar 25, 2014 0 Comment(s)
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In Which Direction To Go

I have been a subscriber for a very long time, dating all the way back to when my dad and I rebuilt a ‘63 Nova SS when I was a young man. I have a 1970 Chevelle that I'm rebuilding, and one of the restoration shops suggested that it might be cheaper in the long run to find a better shell. So I did some digging over the past few months and I now have some questions in regards to what I've recently picked up. It is pretty solid, and certainly a much nicer starting point than the other one. Now I am wondering if it's a better idea to do an OEM-type restoration as opposed to making it a hot rod. The VIN is 136370K179920 and the Body Tag information is as follows: top line ST, 70, 13637, Kan353529, BDY; second line TR, 770, 50/50, PNT; third line 03B, 00535, L.

I'm just trying to decide which way I want to go, as I was told it was a 396/four-speed car. Any help would be appreciated, and I look forward to many more years of reading.

Eric Lanum

I can't really tell you anything about the drivetrain from the information that you've supplied other than the fact that it was born as a V-8. Chevy didn't put the code for the car's specific engine in the VIN until 1972. The VIN decodes as Chevrolet (1), Malibu, Concours station wagon, 8-cylinder (36), 2-door sport coupe (37), 1970 (0), Kansas City, MO (K), and sequence number 79,920. In addition to what we already know from the VIN, the trim tag, or body number plate, tells us that your car was produced in Gobi Beige with a saddle vinyl interior. With the way your question is written, I'm guessing that you bought it with no motor or transmission, so we can't really learn anything more there, ie: engine codes, etc.

It's hard enough to verify a car's authenticity even with a great deal of supporting evidence, let alone a deal like what you appear to have on your hands. If I were you, I'd build it for what I wanted it to be, nothing more, nothing less. I don't think there's any future in trying to make it into something it's not, or at the very least, something you're unsure of.

Body Building

I'm a brand new subscriber to Super Chevy and I love this magazine. I especially like the Chevelle special issue I grabbed off the news stand a number of months ago. Can you guess why?

Here's my question and pertinent info. I have a '72 Chevelle project. I'm on a tight budget, but not cutting corners. The body is in pretty decent shape except for the trunk floor, trunk rain gutter, and the driver's side rear quarter around the rear tire. Concerning the quarterpanel, I see I have some options for repair. It's too far gone for body filler (already tons of it in there) and I want to replace the metal. I see I can get a body line and down skin for $60; or, I can order a full quarter for around $500. Which should I go with? I've kicked this around on an online forum and was told that what I would pay a body man to make the skin work would actually offset the cost of just buying the full quarter and having it welded in. What say you?

Mike Wiebe
Ontario, Canada

First off, I'm no body man. Secondly, I'm not there to set eyes on the project in question, and lastly, there's probably no right or wrong answer. I did, however, find this interesting little blurb on the choices at hand that might be of service in your decision making process (Precision Restorations Blog: Quarter-Panel Repair - Patch it, Skin it, or Replace it?) .

While the decision may not be clear cut, like most peeps, I do have an opinion on the topic. If it was my car and I planned to keep it, not just turn it, I would want it done as correctly as possible, and to me that means putting a full quarter on it. Again, I'm no body wiz, but if the money even wound up close, it's an easy decision, at least to me. Obviously, it still takes a highly skilled body man to do the quarter, but I don't think the potential for problems is near that of the skin replacement process.

The Camino

I have a stock 1971 El Camino with a 1996 5.7 engine with a 350 transmission with a complete Flowmaster exhaust system. I don't have any plan on changing the stock suspension at this time, as it's all new. My question is this: I want to replace my stock 15-inch Rally wheels with 17- or 18-inch Torq Thrust SL or II chrome wheels. Can I fit 17x8 on the front and 17x9 on the rear, and if so what would be the best size rims/tires to use. Thank you for any help you can give. I've been reading your magazine for years.

Robert Baber
Killeen, TX

Not having owned a '71 El Camino at this point in my career, I dialed up Don Raiser at Buffalo's TCT for the rock solid answer to your query. Between Raiser and the American Racing guide, the consensus opinion is that the 18-inch wheel is a bit too aggressive and is not recommended here. An appropriate selection for your wheel of choice would be 17x7 with a 4-inch backspace on the front, with a 225/50/17 tire. On the rear, the recommendation is for a 17x8 wheel, 4.45-inch backspace, with a 225/55/17 tire. With this combination, you shouldn't have any clearance or interference issues.


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