How about something that went just as planned, without a hitch, with no surprises? I'm not sure that exists. Actually, it does. I ordered the radiator for this project from DeWitt's, as I always do for our restorations. This aluminum radiator with the dual Spal fans will cool the earth's core, so it can easily handle this big crate engine. The beautiful thing about it; it drops right in. I've got DeWitt's on my speed dial.
Every project starts with a vision before it comes together as a plan - a virtual look at its end result after its metamorphosis. We were directed to exit the exhaust of this '67 out the center of the exhaust panel - kinda sorta like a C5 or C6, but not really. Speedbump: Immediately behind the shiny red exhaust panel is the spare tire bucket. The spare tire bucket will have to go, which means we either run four run-flats on the ground, or we pack a tire repair kit in the storage well. Building a custom exhaust system is as much about the sound as it is about the look. It was to have an aggressive high-compression big block side-exhaust kind of sound to it, though exit out the back instead of ahead of each rear wheel. This means chambers instead of mufflers. With a build like this, you start with the "starting point" and the "ending point" of the exhaust system, then fill in the blanks in the middle. Starting at the header collectors, we have a fairly straight run to the rear spring, where custom bent tailpipes will bring the exhaust out the center of the exhaust panel. The "straight" section of floor will be where we run our chambered sticks; two 21" sections off the headers, and two 25" sections from the frame crossmember to the rear spring. These chambered "power sticks" came from Classic Chambered Exhaust Inc. in Milford, Michigan, with the rest of the piping fabbed up to our specifications at our local muffler shop. Aesthetics enters in where we built a curved fiberglass wall into the rear panel in the area that we cut out to make room for the exhaust tips. This is all about making it look like it came that way, and not an afterthought. With Vortec heads ramming exhaust gasses into headers and then four chambered sticks, this Corvette doesn't ask you for its attention, it hits you square in the back of the head with a sledgehammer. The exhaust note on acceleration makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, but there is no objectionable drone while cruising down the highway. Perfect.
With everything installed in the engine compartment and the hood ready to be set back on the car, we hold our breath as to whether or not the hood will fit over the top of this new setup. And it does! And it almost closes! Actually, we knew this going in. We need the center bridge section of the inner hood brace removed for adequate clearance over our throttle body. Now, we don't just hack it away and call it a day. Instead, the area of interference is surgically removed, the remaining brace sections are boxed, and it's finished off as if it came from the factory that way. This is as close to burning a bridge as we have come to on this entire project. The bridge isn't burned, but the boards are a little charred and the ropes are singed, but we can fix 'em. Ok, maybe the ropes are burned off.
Which brings us up to date with this Corvette sitting on the rollback. Phasing the distributor, setting the timing and firing up our new engine is just step one of the set-up process. From here, it goes to Jeff Wightman's Precision Autosports in Beavercreek Ohio for a tune. Jeff will strap our Corvette down on the dyno and run it through the gears while he analyzes the data and adjusts the tables to sweeten the performance and driveablity of our project. Most of what we're driving today could benefit from a proper tune, with the timing and air/fuel mixtures very adjustable and performance and fuel economy standing to benefit from it. We didn't run any hard pulls this time around, but will later on-after we get some break-in miles on this engine.
As our ride comes to a stop, let me leave you with a thought. If your classic Corvette is tucked into its garage bed without ever seeing the light of day, be it for reasons of comfort, reliability, or fear of losing original components, today's technology has the answer. Through parts and component substitutions, a "bag and tag" philosophy can make your car more comfortable, more reliable, more powerful and more enjoyable. And the real payoff comes with the fact that you are preserving your original components while enjoying your classic once again. This is something we can all benefit from.
|Difficulty Index - 3 Wrenches|
|Anyone’s Project: no tools required||1 Wrench|
|Beginner: basic tools||2 Wrenches|
|Experienced: special tools||3 Wrenches|
|Accomplished: special tools and outside help||4 Wrenches|
|Professionals Only: send this work out||5 Wrenches|