Hello. I read with concern about the moving of Garage letters to the Internet. I do not like this idea because the letters are my favorite part of your magazine! I would rather see one less cookie-cutter Camaro and more letters! And no, I can't take the computer to the throne, so just leave the section alone, will ya?
Don't worry, we're not pushing the letters straight onto the website by any means. Letters are an important part of the magazine because they let us know whether or not the projects we take on or the engine builds we piece together are on track with what you like to see.
I was amazed at "Cheapskate" in your December issue. I just finished the long-block on a very similar 356ci small-block. I started out just like SAM with a four-bolt 350 block with a GM crank. My local machine shop bored the block 0.040 over, turned the rod and main journals 0.010, and checked the decks and main saddles for $150.
I purchased a Summit engine kit with Federal Mogul rod and main bearings, Speed Pro hypereutectic pistons, Sealed Power rings, a Melling high-volume oil pump, and Fel-Pro gaskets. The connecting rods I used are Scat I-beams. For the valvetrain I went with all Comp: XE286H camshaft, 812 lifters, 7812 pushrods, 1305 Pro Magnum 1.6:1 rockers, 3100 timing set. I used a 310 timing cover that's a bit more expensive, but I hope to upgrade to a hydraulic roller cam eventually. To keep this 356 alive, it has a Moroso 26180 oil pan and a 24350 pickup with the Melling oil pump.
I topped the short-block off with Brodix Track 1 cylinder heads that I port-matched and mildly ported. The other components to finish this engine were a Speed Demon 650-cfm carb, Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap intake, an MSD coil in cap HEI, a Pro Billet distributor and plug wires, a Holley fuel pump, and Hedman headers. The total package priced out at $3,329 for the complete long-block. If you bought the things I already had, the total would be $4,964.
While SAM and I used slightly different components, the results were similar. Their engine made 476 hp, and I'm thinking mine should be in the neighborhood of 430-435 hp, only because they used a lot more camshaft than I did. Also, they used iron heads and I used aluminum, but with very similar flow characteristics. Long live first-gen 350 Chevys!
Russell Racing & Repair
It's great to hear that you built something similar, but you forgot one thing: Send us a picture of your ride! Follow up with us and let us know how the new combination works out.
More-Efficient Hot Rods
I have been a subscriber for a few years and have never written to the magazine before. First of all, thanks for the excellent product. The articles are always full of technical information, but are easy to understand. I especially like all the tips regarding things that are often overlooked, and even things the staff made a mistake on, which helps the reader to avoid a similar misfortune.
It seems when fuel prices or the economy waver, a lot of people ask how to make their money stretch by making more fuel-friendly engines. I enjoy these articles, but have not seen much on the topic of making our vehicles more efficient by upgrading the aerodynamics of our rides. I'm not talking anything too radical, but I am sure maybe something along the lines of Smokey Yunick, making windows flush-mount and things of that nature. Maybe some of the people who compete in the Silver State competitions might have some insight as to making our old bricks slip through the air. Thanks for the great work. Keep it up, and I for one will keep on reading.
Your letter came in right around the time staffer John Nelson took a trip to Nevada for a ride in a Silver State Chevelle. He has read your letter, so let's see what he comes up with.
From Around The Globe
Love the magazine! I'm currently building a '69 Chevelle Malibu convertible with an LS1, a 4L60E, a 12-bolt, and Wilwood discs all round, and I'm planning for a full Air Ride Street Challenge System. In "Inside SEMA '08" (Mar. '08), page 52, you mentioned the TCI Shift By Wire Controller. Is it out yet? Have you tried it? Any relevant information or articles you can refer me to on the shift controller would be greatly appreciated. Also, have you installed the Air Ride Air Pod full system into the Chevelle? You mentioned that you're waiting for a local Chevelle to become available. Is NZ local enough? I wish!
Northland, New Zealand
We're in the middle of working on those stories in question. As of right now, we're waiting for the trick TCI shifter to become available, and the Chevelle we've been trying to get the new Air Pod on just got out of paint jail. New Zealand is a bit far, but we're glad to hear that muscle cars are up and roaming in your neck of the world!
Letters are looking a little slim these days. Give us a shout, ask some questions, or tell us how great we are. Send emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get in, sit down, shut up, and hang on. Basically, that's what the morning consisted of today. They always say, "The early bird gets the worm," so with that, I grabbed some blank sheets of paper and a pen, and Henry D and I got down and dirty planning out the edit schedule three months in advance. We locked ourselves in the office and threw story ideas around like ninja stars. Nothing was shot down, and almost every idea was considered. We outlined three upcoming issues with three different themes in mind, and when you have events, races, car shows, SEMA, PRI, and the holidays approaching, time is of the essence.
When most of the West Coast was barely waking up and on its first cup of coffee, Henry and I had already slammed ours and were waiting for the lunch bell to ring. Before we knew it, three hours had passed in the blink of an eye, and it was only 9 o'clock in the morning. Sometimes it's tough, but on the other hand, it needs to get done-and thankfully it did. This magazine is solely driven by our readers, but at the same time, we trust Henry D at the helm of this warship, and it's set to sail. He calls the shots and decides what to hold in the gallows and what takes a swim overboard. We feel our readers are a different breed, expecting a certain flavor, and when they get a sour taste in their mouth we feel it here on the creative side of things.
Now is the time to relieve stress and get out there with your project cars. The best part? Cars can't think back. They can't give you any lip, can't criticize you, and are always there waiting for a wrench like a loyal dog waiting for its bone. If you've had a bad day at the office, in the warehouse, or on the road, your car is always there to cheer you up. The feeling of accomplishment you get working on your project car is worth more than any flattering remark tossed your way by a superior at work. Even in the midst of economic catastrophe and financial disruption, we sit and plan for the future. We're just going to have to harden up and become immune to this chaotic and hellish mess out there. We must go on and strive forward, charting out the future-even if it's over a cup of joe and some scratch paper.
50 Years Of The El Camino
October 1959 the first El Caminos rolled off the production line and into the hands of millions of enthusiasts. It wasn't just a muscle car, but a truck too. You could not only take the thing to the local cruise-in, but also haul some hay if need be. Fast-forward to today. We celebrate its 50th anniversary. Yes, our old friend the El Camino turns 50 this year. While the El Camino has been out of production for some time now, it's comforting to know that it hasn't lost its flare.-SH
What Does It All Mean?
Ever wonder what all those numbers and letters mean on the VIN plate of your '62-79 Nova muscle cars? If you don't have a guide, those codes can be quite confusing. Here is a little something to help you figure out the options on your specific vehicle. The Nova Resource site illustrates line by line what each number and letter means. This nifty little site tells you the build month or week, the trim and paint of your Nova, and even the options it came with. This is surely one site to bookmark. Check out novaresource.org/c64.htm.-SH
Fuelin' Now And Then
Who knows what will happen with gas prices by the time this goes to print? I sure don't, but as gas prices creep down everywhere-it's below $3 here on the West Coast for the cheap stuff (87 octane)-we can all breathe a sigh of relief in the wallet and at the pump. What's strange though is how $3 seems cheap today, when just a year or two ago drivers were screaming bloody murder when prices hit $2.50 a gallon. Either way, hopefully prices will continue to decrease. But, like I mentioned before, who knows where the prices will end up? How are fuel prices in your neck of the woods? Let us know at chevyhiperformance.com.-SH
I've never been a Boy Scout. I mean that literally, as in I never joined up and earned badges and that sort of thing, and also figuratively, as in no one has ever mistaken me for a Boy Scout. For the most part, I can live with that, but there's one part I really wish I adhered to, and that's the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Especially since these days it seems like more often than not I'm quite simply unprepared.
I've been having a rough time in the transportation department lately. My daily driver truck-where I usually keep my tools, by the way-is laid up for some major repairs. I took the tools out, and today they're stuffed in a box in my bedroom. So, with my truck down and out, I charged up the battery in my Corvette and started driving that instead. I've let my Vette sit a lot the past year or so, and driving it again reminded me of how much I enjoy the old C4-right up until, in a moment of massive karmic justice, the fuel pump went out. And of course, none of the pile of fuel pumps borrowed for this month's story would work.
So I went for the contestant behind door number three, my '84 Z28. It's loud and doesn't get very good mileage, but it is pretty reliable. That is, until I'm heading home on Friday, totally dialed in to my iPod and not really paying attention to much else. Then I noticed that the temperature gauge was up at 250 degrees, and I headed directly for the nearest gas station.
The little beast had thrown its alternator belt, which also drives the water pump. I stepped into the local pizza joint while the car cooled down-then, since all my tools were in a box at home, I made a break for the local 24-hour Walmart. After spending about $30 on a socket set, screwdrivers, and a flashlight, I got the belt back in place and headed home. I was glad that the problem was something I could fix.
On the other hand, I keep thinking that I really should have been prepared with some basic tools stashed in the Camaro. It was a drag to have to spend money on tools I already own. I'm still no Boy Scout, but I guess now I'm at least somewhat prepared. As long as I leave the tools in the car, that is.