In ’67, most SS customers ordered the 325 or 350hp 396. The high-compression (11:1) solid-lifter L78 396 ci was positioned as a dealer-installed option. The dealer would convert the hydraulic-lifter 350/396 engine to a 375hp stormer (in the Corvette the same motor was rated at 425 hp). Hence, there were very few on the road (you would have better luck finding one in a Camaro). Gale found such a character and handed it to Pat Kirby right there in Eaton. The iron-head engine had high compression but that was in the smoky days of leaded fuel. Do you remember Sunoco 260 blue? No detonation problems then but certainly there would be nowunless race gas was part of the equation. Originally, the cast-iron, closed combustion chambers held a 108cc volume, 2.19/1.72 valves, had 325cc intake runners, and square exhaust ports. Kirby machined the cylinder block, gave it a 0.060-inch overbore (to 406 ci), and balanced the rotating assembly10.5:1 JE pistons on the stock steel connecting rods and steel crankshaft. He replaced the original valves with ones of stainless steel. He put camshaft to crankshaft with a Cloyes double-roller chain. The COMP hydraulic cam is governed by COMP springs and stock pushrods coerce roller rocker arms. The engine oiling system is original stuff; a 5-quart (with filter) pan is fished by a standard oil pump and welded pickup. An MSD box and Blaster coil were located remotely thereby cleaning up the compartment. An Edelbrock intake partners with a 750-cfm Holley. To obtain that special, to-the-bone sound, Gale chose Hooker Super Comps with 1.75x30-inch primaries that feed into a 3-inch stainless system, featuring some raspy Flowmasters. No power figures or estimates from Gale. How much grunt do you think this engine makes? Gale built a Turbo 400 with good internals and preceded it with a Coan 3,500-stall converter. He fitted it with a B&M Z-Gate shifter and hooked it to the original oil cooler. The rebuilt driveshaft sends torque to the 12-bolt fortified with 3.55:1 gears and Positraction.
As mentioned previously, the Chevelle had received quarters, inner rear fenders, and a trunk floor from its previous owner. Gale proceeded, flattening the firewall and securing an SS hood for the project. He had a friend apply some sexy gloss to the engine compartment. This same friend shot the DuPont Black on the exposed sheetmetal and made it look a mile deep.
Like us all, Gale was after a particular look, stance, what have you. He wasn’t too particular about how he got it. He just did it. It made sense to him to shorten the front coils by 2 inches and use lowering springs in the rear. He retained the stock front shocks and the original antisway bar. For the rear suspension it was more of the same, only there the dampers are Monroe. To balance the car a little better, he added a GM bar to the rear suspension as well. The spindles and recirculating ball steering are stock. Gale says the body has been dropped a total of 3 inches.
Good eye-pop here. This combo really snaps against the deep black. Gale got him some Boss 338 (in Super Black) hoops, 18x8 and 20x9.5, and stretched Nitto NT555 tires around them. The front stickies are 245/45, while the rears are sized at 265/35. Brakes are rebuilt original disc/drum assemblies.
Gale saved himself a whole bunch of money right here by avoiding the custom, clean, minimalist trap where everything must be revamped (however subtle), and simply recreating the original apartment with N.O.S. parts. Don’t bother about that three-gauge cluster by Gale’s right knee. The only thing slightly out of place is the modern Jeep steering wheel. Gale’s got a Jensen AM/FM/CD away but there are no controls for air conditioning, no iPod, no Bluetooth, no TV, GPS, kitchen sink, or any other such frippery.