There was a time in the mid-’50s when serious small-block and W-motored big-block Chevys danced off the showroom floor with twin Carter WCFBs bolted to a 2x4 intake manifold. John Buck is a longtime enthusiast with a bitchin back-in-black ’56 Chevy powered by a carbureted Chevrolet Performance ZZ502 big-block crate engine. He’s always liked that 2x4 look and decided that the eight-barrel approach deserved a shot.
Buck’s ’56 Rat ran great with its 750-cfm double-pumper, but he was also searching for a little added sophistication. The plan focused on finding a 2x4 package that could achieve both goals. What Buck discovered is that FiTech offers just such a 2x4 EFI throttle body kit designed to bolt directly on an Edelbrock 2x4 low-rise manifold with minimal fuss.
FiTech offered to perform the swap at their shop in Riverside, California. This also required an aftermarket fuel tank to accommodate the necessary in-tank fuel pump assembly. This almost required as much effort as the intake manifold swap since this IRS-equipped Tri-Five was anything but stock out back, but the conversion went smoothly and very soon the ’56 hit the streets for some simple tuning. That’s when disaster struck. For reasons still not entirely clear, the 502 suffered a rod bearing failure that required a complete rebuild. Chevy 502s come with aluminum production rod and main bearings that sometimes are a bit unforgiving. If the crank hits a main bearing for whatever reason, the debris peeled from the mains usually end up in the rod bearings that then quickly fail. The project was delayed for several months while the engine went through a complete rebuild. Once the crank was massaged and the engine builder reassembled the 502 with most of its original parts, the swap could continue. The engine was initially run on a test stand with a single four-barrel carburetor to check for leaks and proper behavior before the 2x4 FiTech system was again installed.
Joel Rode’s Hot Rod Specialties shop in Upland, California, performed the new engine installation along with the FiTech system. With everything bolted in place, we met the ’56 at Westech Performance Group for a final rundown and tune on the chassis dyno. Because of some transmission issues they weren’t able to perform a full power run but, using the Superflow electric dyno, they were able to do some final highway cruise air/fuel ratio tuning by setting a given speed that allows the dyno operator to manipulate various throttle settings while maintaining a given speed. This is something only a load-based dyno like the Superflow can perform.
For initial EFI operation, FiTech recommends running the engine with its existing ignition system for ignition timing. Then, once the fuel side tuning has been finalized, then if the owner prefers, ignition control can be converted to the FiTech. This is a good plan because it minimizes the number of potential errors that could occur. That’s the next step for Buck’s ’56 but we just couldn’t wait so that will come later. No drama is anticipated.
The accompanying photo series is not a step-by-step install since this entire procedure required several days to complete. Part of this was a custom install on the fuel tank that had to work around the car’s IRS conversion. This installation occurred before FiTech finalized its own fuel tank system, which is now available. But that’s part of the fun and the challenge of working on modified cars. But the installation was a success and Buck’s ’56 is now back on the road. Check out how this FiTech conversion plan all came together. It’s a new digital take on an otherwise nostalgic story.
|FiTech GoEFI 2x4 625HP, black finish||FIF-30062||Summit Racing|
|FiTech GoEFI 2x4 625HP, silver finish||FIF-30061||Summit Racing|
|FiTech GoEFI 2x4 1200HP, blower||FIF-30064||Summit Racing|
|FiTech HyperFuel tank and pump assm.||HPF-47002||Summit Racing|
|Edelbrock polished 2x4 intake||EDL-54201||Summit Racing|
|Edelbrock intake gasket||EDL-7203||Summit Racing|
|Edelbrock 2x4 air cleaner||EDL-4272||Summit Racing|
|MSD distributor, Pro-Billet||MSD-83603||Summit Racing|
|ARP stainless intake bolt kit||ARP-135-2001||Summit Racing|