All right, we had to say it, we were getting tired our Ultimate Tanning Machine having cat-like reflexes with no muscle behind it. After all, what good are four-wheel disc brakes with 190 hp under the loud pedal? So, we did what any respectable wrencher would do. We got on the phone with GM Performance Parts and ordered the hottest, noisiest, beastly small-block available, the ZZ383. While we knew this meant diggin' head first into a major project, it had to be done.
When doing any major mechanical project, planning is crucial. Take it from us non-planners, if you do your homework you won't be stuck watching Speedvision while waiting for your UPS overnight package to arrive.
Right after ordering our lil' small-block we sat down with a pencil and paper and thought of every conceivable necessity, realizing that we probably only thought of half the necessary parts. As the parts started arriving we carefully catalogued each component making the need-list smaller and the have-list bigger.
With 90 percent of the parts accounted for, we began with the dirty work. It's a good idea to head to the Coin-Op car wash before beginning any project of this greasy magnitude. It sounds silly, but you can thank us later. With 40 years of grease removed, we tore out the tired 283, keeping track of every loose part, just in case. Using a residual supply of GMPP restoration paint we scuffed the engine bay and coated in semi-gloss pigment.
It's always a good idea to assemble the accessories before the motor is placed into the vehicle. Consider it, the code of crate motor installation. You're better off figuring out that your new harmonic balancer pulley is wrong before the installation takes place. Lucky for us, our Zoops pulleys fit like a glove along with the rest of our accessories. Once the accessories are assembled, take a tape measure and wrap it around the pulleys to get an estimate for your belt length. When purchasing the belt, it's a good idea to get three for four sizes as fitment is always more complicated than it seems.
Once the motor is set in place you can drop your radiator in position. For our application, we had US Radiator build us a '67 Chevelle big-block-style radiator to handle the extra horsepower. As luck was in our corner the Flex-A-Lite fan was exactly the correct size as our radiator. We were actually amazed to find out that aluminum radiators rarely outperform copper-brass. So, to save a few bucks we went with the advise of US Radiator owner, Don Armstrong and ordered copper-brass.
After a trip to the local hydraulic hose outfitter we equipped our type II power steering pump with trick Russell hoses and AN connections. Be sure to jack up the front of the car and turn the steering wheel 30 or 40 times back and forth to bleed the system. If not, you'll have one heck of a foam party.
With the carburetor installed and the distributor set, we ran the few necessary wires and prepped ourselves for to hear our 383-equipped beast for the first time. As we had no mufflers and 9.1:1 compression earplugs were definitely in our favor. As you may or may no know, water will do little for an oil fire, so keep a towel and a fire extinguisher handy. As we cranked the key for the first time and pumped the go pedal our small-block roared to life with the soul of a sprint car.