The highs and lows that accompany building a project car can seem never-ending. It’s a virtual roller coaster ride of aggravating let downs and animated high-fives (with anyone within an arms length). But even after a month of molasses-paced progress, once the plugs ignite the stagnant fuel for the first time, all the sleepless nights and bloodied knuckles instantly become a distant memory. As a cylinder-full of spent vapors get released through the open garage door, so do the cynical thoughts of never being able to get this thing off the ground.
During the relatively short time our second-gen project car, a 1971 Camaro known as Project Orange Krate, has been on our possession, we’ve gone through a few highs and lows ourselves: the first high was loading up our car on the trailer and taking it home. The first low: the long period of time the car sat once we got it home. Next high: firing up the engine on the dyno and squeezing out nearly 500 horsepower. The next low: waiting over two months to get our potent small-block installed in the car.
Knowing our project car will one day possess tons of great products from our advertisers—everything from suspension, brakes, tires, gauges and interior pieces—making big decisions on which parts will work best together can be a bit daunting, but it’s all part of the challenge.
After spending hours on the phone wrangling up the necessary parts, our project inevitably got pushed to the side by other time-consuming magazine deadlines and a brutal summer travel schedule. That left us with little time for getting our bitchen parts assembled and installed on the car. I know, it sounds a bit whiney, but if you were greeted five-days-a-week by a set of 18-inch Fikse wheels (still in boxes) sitting in your office for over two months, you’d be a little cranky too. Not to mention having to watch the car accumulate a uniform layer of parasitic dust for weeks on end. Well, it’s been a couple of months since our portly small-block made noise on the engine dyno−fortunately we were able to make time to bring the car, engine, and a freshly-built Gear Star TH 350 transmission over to Don Lee Auto in Cucamonga, California, where Tim Lee and the boys placed tab A into slot A. With 427 cubic-inches of meticulously formed and milled iron, symphonic melodies finally echoed from the confines of its new home, the engine bay. This was definitely one of those highs I referred to earlier.
Project Orange Krate now has a heartbeat. And what a heartbeat it is. Once the World Products 427 fired up, the car came to life, and the excitement of building a project car started all over again.Follow along as we show you how we put together a bunch of cool parts that work in unison to make one bad-ass second-gen Camaro. Although we still have a few tweaks to tackle, thanks to some of Camaro Performers magazines’ advertisers and a few knowledgeable car guys, the ’71 finally moves on its own power (man does it have power!).
Going Level 3
Our 427 puts out quite a bit of torque, so we wanted to make sure we had a transmission that was up to the task. We talked to Zach Farah of Gearstar Performance Transmission in Akron, Ohio, and he steered us towards their Level Three TH350 transmission. They also take pride in their assembly procedure. “At Gearstar, our transmissions are built and dyno-tested by the same master builder from start to finish. The trans and converter are tested as a package equivalent of 100 street-driven miles before it leaves the shop.” remarked Zach. The level three trans is conservatively rated at over 500 hp and features ALTO Redline racing frictions, hardened Kolene steels, high load intermediate sprag, and a TransGo competition reprogramming shift kit. In short, this is the good stuff. Here are a few shots they snapped of our transmission going together.
How’s this for a before and after shot? The engine bay looks great and is a far cry from the mess we started out with. Twist Machine’s Billet Core Support Bars add some nice flair. If you want to see, and more importantly hear, a video of Project Orange Krate firing up for the first time, then go to You Tube and do a search for “Orange Krate Camaro”. It’s almost a shame to install mufflers.