How you choose to build your Chevy greatly affects the amount of money you'll spend. Full on pro touring builds generally cost a lot because many parts on the car need to be modified to make it handle and perform to the desired level. Drag cars are in the same boat, as enthusiasts always want to go faster and make the car perform better, for the sake of a quicker e.t. or a better launch. Building a car for any type of racing quickly gets expensive. To stay on budget, you generally need to stay on the street. Build a simple street car with the appropriate upgrades, and just have fun with it. Go to cruise nights, take it to a local car show-whatever you do, just have fun. Don't worry about the car's imperfections, and don't be afraid to point them out to fellow car guys. If you haven't noticed, part of the hobby is to talk about future plans for your car.
There's no specific order you need to follow when it comes to building your first Chevy. But, it definitely makes sense to get the suspension and engine worked out before the car is painted and upholstered. Some folks concentrate mainly on getting the engine dialed in, and then move to the other areas of concern-it's all about your preference, and the car's needs. Building an old vehicle isn't cheap and it isn't easy, but the process is much simpler if you're starting with something that only needs cosmetic updates, or a fresh powerplant, rather than a complete frame-up rebuild. Take the right steps, stick to the budget, and your first Chevy build will provide lots of fun, both in the garage and on the highway. From there you can update the existing setup until the final goal is met. Whether that means outrunning a new ZO6 in a friendly showdown, or toasting the field at a Super Chevy autocross event. Either way, don't forget to have fun, and enjoy the quality time with your first Bow Tie buildup.
Chassis and Suspension
Whether chassis and suspension modifications are intended for performance or looks, it's a good place to start. Detroit Speed and Engineering is a dreamer's paradise, as it produces all sorts of high-end suspension parts for Camaros, Novas, and Chevelles. For a first-time build, you may want to resist the temptation for fancy components and keep it simple with a few modest bolt-on modifications. Cutting front coil springs is an acceptable way to lower a car's ride height, and slightly increase the spring rate, offering a stiffer suspension. This doesn't cost anything but your time. For the rear, lowering springs are usually the answer, but you can get away a lot cheaper if your car rides on leaf springs by using lowering blocks. This does little to improve the handling, but you can make the car sit right for about 40 bucks-not a bad investment.
For unibody cars, subframe connectors are always a good addition, especially on one that has suffered rust damage over the years. There's no doubt that stiffening the unibody structure helps with handling and overall performance, so you can't go wrong here. If your car didn't come with disc brakes, put that on your list of modifications and make it happen. Drum brakes just don't cut it for high performance cars, so this is a great place to spend a little extra money on your first project. Wheels and tires, however, have been known to drain bank accounts across the country. On that note, a bad set of wheels and tires can ruin an otherwise cool muscle car. Weigh out the pros and cons, and find a way to make your combination unique and tasteful.