Matt built the engine, prepped the chassis, and assembled the whole, and at the beginning of the makeover got help from his sons' godfather Robert and some friends at Kiwi Motors down in Santa Clarita. In the old days, this is what people did. They didn't pretend that they knew how to upholster or paint, no, they just did the mechanicals and went out and got it on.
As budget and common sense dictated, Matt didn't need to make any material changes to accommodate the dragstrip ultimatum or street torpedo demeanor of his Chevelle, only to make sure that the tableau was neat, clean, and functional. Dominated by that big Auto Meter rev counter and smattering of ancillaries, it carries no audio compilation, air conditioning, or entertainment center. Mitch's Upholstery in Valencia put the repro vinyl in place and worked the carpeting. Little People Customs scrunched the rollcage up tight and hung the obligatory four-point safety webbing.
Just plain old common sense and the philosophy of ages are at work here. Matt: "Except for the Moroso Trick springs and Summit 90/10 shocks, the front suspension hasn't been touched in at least 10 years. I upgraded the rear section with UMI Performance lower control arms and relocation brackets for the Edelbrock adjustable upper links. A Hotchkis solid 1-inch antisway bar helps the car track straight. I put Moroso springs in there, too, along with Summit shock absorbers. The whole deal is simple and it works like a clock."
There's this big thing with Cali guys and how their cars look. No junk, no rust, no dings or squashes and that paint better look bitchin' right away. They don't have to worry much about salt and cinders or even rain for that matter. Matt made some room in the budget to this end and had Gary's Auto Body in Newhall, California, complete the trust. The car didn't have much wrong with it in the first place and only needed a small amount of bodywork to make it straight and wrinkle-free. Gary's did pull the doors, glass, and the trunk lid and installed a 3-inch cowl hood. They covered the corpus with PPG Neon Blue, laid on custom-mixed silver accents, and called it done.
Rollers & Brakes
To no one's surprise, Matt used the same stuff that most people do in this situation: Weld Drag Lites (3.5-inch front, 10-inch rear) and stuck them with off-brand cheapies and 28x10.5 Mickey Thompson ET Drag's out back. The brakes? You gotta be kiddin'. Our man doesn't need anything more here than the original disc/drum setup as supported by stock spindles that are attached to the original steering. OK, so maybe he does drag one foot every once in a while.
Power And Transfer
That 350 motor came off the line in 1971. Matt sent it to Pete at TPE in Colorado for the required machine work and the dynamic balancing session then he began to build the small-block as if it was the last one on earth. He fitted the KB forgings and Total Seal rings to the 0.040-inch overbore that Pete had punched and hooked them to indexed forged connecting rods beset with ARP fasteners. He fitted the stock steel crankshaft with a double-roller timing set and plopped on the chrome-plated stock sump over the ubiquitous Mellings oil pump. For valve bumping, he chose an Ultradyne solid roller with a rating of 0.588/0.583-inch lift and 276 degrees of duration (both valves) at 0.050-inch. Untouched Motown 23-degree aluminum castings were fitted with Manley valves, valvesprings, and pushrods and Scorpion 1.5:1 roller rocker arms. With a 64cc combustion chamber and the KB's, compression ratio is 11.0:1 on pump gas. EFI was out of the question so Matt was spurred by a 750-cfm Barry Grant carb, an Edelbrock Super Victor intake manifold, and an MSD 6A box and Billet distributor. Timing is normally 36 degrees BTDC; on juice, the engine happily snaps at just 26. Chip's Muffler in Newhall whipped up a 3-inch exhaust system stemming from Hooker 17/8-inch primary Super Comp headers. Whether the moon is full or not, a nitrous system pieced together with NOS parts offers that all-important 150 shot blackjack. No electronics or fancy stuff on the drive end of the car, either. Matt imposed on the Turbo 350 transmission, plying it with a 9-inch Continental 4,500-stall converter and a B&M cooler. The shift linkage and the driveshaft have not progressed beyond the original stock configuration. Matt treated the third member to a good measure of integrity via C-clip eliminators, a Moser spool and axleshafts, and a 4.11:1 ring-and-pinion.