A: Either of those two donor vehicles will work. All the '78-81 A-bodies and '82-88 G-body passenger cars have the same 108-inch wheelbase. The '78-87 El Caminos have a wheelbase of 117 inches. We'd use the '84 Cutlass if it's in good shape; any of the subtle upgrades made over the years would be intergraded into the later-model frame. Also, the late '70s is when The General converted over to robotic welding. Our '79 Malibu Wagon race car frame has some really nasty welds. By '84, they should have gotten much better.
Be very careful when swapping out the frame. With the perimeter frame in the G-bodies, you only have the rocker panels to lift the body off. Make sure you have very secure and braced stands before rolling out the chassis. Also, get the replacement frame back under the Monte as quickly as possible. Finally, replace all the body mounts while you're at it. The rubber mounts degrade over time and really compress. You can replace the mounts with polyurethane mounts from Energy Suspension. This really stiffens up the car and gives you all the body mounts, core support mounts, and hardware. Again, be careful. We've replaced the bushings before and you don't want to get your hands caught between the frame and body.
Q: I have a '69 Impala two-door Sport Coupe that has been tortured by 41 Wisconsin winters. The body is stored on a trailer in a barn and the rolling chassis is the only part remaining in my garage. In the near future I'm going to start working on the chassis. I don't want the car to ride like a family car. With a 383 stroker and a TH700-R4 turning the rear wheels, I'd like the rear end to be able to perform as well as the front end of the car. Everything I've read tells me the only real difference between what I have and an SS is suspension is that the SS is stiffer. What do I need, or who do I need to see to get my rear end to handle like the true SS Impala?
A: Yes, the SS cars had stiffer springs. This gave the car a better feel and less of a yacht-feeling ride. For performance usage, you'll want to do a major upgrade both in the front and rear. Get in touch with Global West Suspension, which has been building quality suspension components for GM vehicles for over three decades and offers upper and lower control arms for both the front and rear suspension. Global has specific performance front and rear springs engineered for your B-body and a very nice tubular adjustable track bar and relocation kit for proper geometry. Finally, the antisquat kit relocates the rear upper control arms to change the geometry in the rear, increasing or decreasing the amount of downward force on the rear tires. Antisquat is a fast way of improving performance without doing serious modifications to the vehicle.
All major builds like yours take some time. Be patient and enjoy the time with your car. You will appreciate it even more when you're done. Good luck.
Quench Or Not To Quench
Q: I have a question on combustion chamber quench. I am currently building a 406ci small-block for my street rod. The car weighs about 2,600 pounds and is equipped with a Turbo 350 trans, a stock converter, a 2.79:1 rear gear, and 28-inch-tall rear tires. I drive it just for pleasure and going to rod runs.
The 406 is balanced, has stock 5.565-inch Keith Black KB159 pistons with a 12cc dish, Edelbrock Performer RPM heads (64cc), a Performer RPM intake, and a 600-cfm carb. The static compression ratio is about 10.3:1. I'm also using a Comp Cams XE256H-10 hydraulic flat-tappet cam (212/218 duration at 0.050) as recommended by the "cam help" service. At TDC the pistons measure 0.022 down in the cylinders. This, coupled with the Fel-Pro 1014 coolant control head gaskets (0.039 compressed thickness) adds up to a quench of 0.061. Would you deck the block, and if so, by how much? Do you have any other ideas?
George L. Flanagan