The drastic dip in the economy has left a lot of us car guys scratching our heads. Our budgets are stretched to the max, and luxuries that aren't vehicle-related are on hiatus until further notice. Still, it's possible to add parts and make power during these tough times, all the while staying within a strict budget. The truth of the matter is not all of us can afford a brand-new crate engine, nor can we dig up the pocket change towards forced induction. Heck, even a basic engine overhaul these days seems unimaginable.
The good news is that with a budget frame of mind, it doesn't take much to free those locked-up ponies from your muscle car. Take into consideration what an engine needs, namely air/fuel and spark. Any approach to improving these characteristics is bound to both increase power and create a much more efficiently running engine.
A perfect opportunity to illustrate these efforts came to us. We jumped at the chance to prove our theory on a street-driven '64 Chevelle that was recently purchased on eBay. The Chevelle was a clean sweep with glossy black paint, a new interior, and a solid-running, iron-headed 350 small-block with a factory-style HEI distributor, a Carter carburetor, and stamped-steel rockers. While Colin Hicks' gem survived the northern-Oregon-to-sunny-SoCal road trip without a single hiccup, he was still after a bit more performance out of the mill. Of course, everything had to meet within the constraints of his wallet, so we limited our performance enhancing to an ignition upgrade with an MSD 6AL and a Pro Billet distributor with new wires. We also took advantage of a set of Comp Ultra-Gold rockers and banked on the valve lift for increased air into the cylinders. We also replaced the archaic Carter carburetor with a fresh unit from Holley.
While we don't expect you to run out and buy a project car, the results we obtained should be close to what you might experience on a similar combination of your own. Would you have tried something different? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!
What We Did
Ignition upgrade with roller rockers and a Holley carb
Perfect for your everyday hauler or project car
$1,500 for the components, $175/hour for dyno time