There has never been a more appropriately named musclecar shop on these shores than Brent Jarvis' Performance Restorations(performancerestorations.com). Doing exactly as the name implies, Jarvis doesn't just restore automobiles, he completes entire performance restorations. Cars that roll out of his Mundelein, Illinois, shop are not only show-ready from top to bottom, but are built to be driven in high-performance mode. Seeking credibility from customers no longer content to sit around comparing hose clamps and build sheets, Jarvis decided to make his own daily driver, this '65 Malibu SS 396 clone, a rolling testbed for the purest expression of a performance restoration.
This Malibu convertible defines the philosophy of building cars that can hold their own on a race course, at the dragstrip, on cruise night, and even in rush hour traffic. If any car could legitimately be considered a hot rod multitasker, it would be this midsize drop-top. With almost 60,000 miles added to the clock since it was bought in 2001, the Malibu has been thrashed and sorted out in almost every conceivable venue, with the possible exception of ice racing and European rally driving.
The original '65 Malibu SS was found in San Jose, California. Built in the Norwood, California, plant, the ragtop had spent all of its life in sunny California. After flying out to inspect the car, Brent hammered out a deal and brought it back to Performance Restorations with the simple intent of building a mild, Z16 resto-mod clone. The rust-free car was stripped to bare metal and received only minor straightening. The owner sprayed a tweaked GM Marina Blue, with stock satin black chassis and engine bay accents.
Brent was able to locate all the rare Z16 pieces that were to his liking, including an NOS 160-mph speedometer. But rather than go berserk on building the car in bone-stock, chalk-mark-correct fashion, Brent gave the '65 simple upgrades to enhance performance and make it a reliable daily driver. A smoothed fiberglass cowl-induction hood from Glasstek was added, but only after being completely smoothed and finished inside and out.
After the Malibu was buttoned up with a big-block LS6 454 crate motor and a four-speed, Brent began using the car as his get-to-work transportation. That's when things got out of hand...and we're glad they did. It dawned on Mr. Performance Restorations that the growing demand for Pro Touring style cars called for someone to step up and provide cars that offered not just killer looks, but the all-around performance that could back up the image. So began the new career track for this Malibu SS testbed.
Building Bigger Horsepower
Not content with a basically stock LS6 motor, Jarvis pulled the motor for more serious horsepower. Big-block power remained the religion of choice for the beast. However, the crate LS6 454 has been bored 0.100 over to produce 476 ci. Forged pistons achieve a 10.8:1 compression ratio. A Moroso 7-quart baffled oil pan built with a full-length screen and crank scraper keeps the oil from hindering horsepower. A high-volume Moroso pump and a set of oil restrictors in the cam galleys supply plenty of oil where needed most, on the bearings. Bumpstick is a Comp Cams "tight lash" solid roller with 0.660 lift on the intake and 0.666 lift on the exhaust. Duration at 0.050 is 0.254 intake and 0.269 exhaust with 110 degrees lobe separation. Brodix Race Rite aluminum heads have been ported and are fit with 2.25 intake, 1.88 exhaust stainless valves.
The polished finned valve covers with the Chevrolet script are from PML. These valve covers have a built-in baffle system to keep the oil in the engine while allowing it to breathe. Intake is an aluminum port-matched Team G Weiand that hosts a 1/2-inch spacer and a highly modified Holley carburetor flowing 950 cfm. The functioning dual-snorkel cowl-induction air cleaner was a conglomeration of four different Chevrolet air cleaners and presently houses a 4-inch K&N element topped off with the Z16 396 badge.
A set of March underdrive pulleys slows everything down by 20 percent, and the big engine stays cool with a Be Cool aluminum radiator and fan combination, while a high-flow Weiand aluminum water pump keeps the coolant circulating. Exhaust is handled with 2-inch Hedman Hedders, Flowmaster 40 Series mufflers, and 3-inch Exhaust Tech pipes all the way back, topped off by '70 Chevelle SS tips.