As a 138 series car, this Chevelle was built with a big-block. George bought his without an engine or transmission, but determined that a bigger big-block was quite in order. He wanted 540 ci where there were once only 396. It was a bolt-in deal that included a delectable heavy-duty, close-ratio (2.20:1 low gear) M22 four-speed. The shining stars at Nelson Racing in Chatsworth machined the Merlin II block, reaching a 4.500x4.25 bore and stroke for the inches they needed. Nelson based the combination on a Callies 4340 crankshaft, Crower 4340 H-beam rods, and JE 2618 pistons and balanced the assembly internally. The oiling system is composed of a Moroso six-quart sump and accompanying Melling high-volume pump. LSM Engineering in Waterford, Michigan, turned out a custom hydraulic roller with 0.663-inch lift on both valves and durations of 258/264 degrees at 0.050 inch. The cam installation included Cloyes double-roller timing gear, COMP steel roller rockers, Trick Flow springs, titanium retainers, panatela-sized Smith Brothers 0.080-wall pushrods, and SFI-approved balancer. At the other end of the L.A. sprawl, Dr. J’s Performance in Anaheim worked on the Pro Topline 360cc intake runner aluminum heads, fitting 2.300- and 1.888-inch valves, including a sharp valvejob. Steve Whipple and Smitty Smith at Edelbrock massaged an Edelbrock Victor 454-R intake over the top of them. A Holley HP1000 air/fuel mixer and K&N element in the middle of it. Ignition and its propagation are created by a Crane Fireball box in conjunction with an MSD Pro Billet distributor. Total timing is 34 degrees. Evacuating poisonous gases is the province of Dawson Racing in Nuevo and includes 2-inch primary pipes feeding 31/2-inch collectors, the obligatory X-pipe, and crackly Flowmaster 40 mufflers. The best dyno sheet read 685 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm and 650 hp at 6,500 rpm. We can’t find a power-adder anywhere. George plumbed the bomb with a Ron Davis dual-fan radiator, Edelbrock water pump and 160-gph fuel pump, AN-8 supply and return lines snaking from the stock tank, and an Aeromotive regulator. Motor and transmission are solidly mounted. For his torque receptor, George went way back and found an M22 that was fixed with a Super case and a steel mid-plate for added strength. He works the thing with a Hurst Competition Plus shifter and a McLeod RST twin disc clutch assembly. The kicker is the Gear Vendors overdrive unit sprouting from the back of it—a superstrong unit that adds more than invigorated fuel mileage. Now George has eight forward gears, should he desire, along with a deep overdrive for the big highway. A 3-inch diameter aluminum driveshaft joins with the original 12-bolt as massaged by Currie (more splines on the thicker axles, C-clip eliminators, and 3.73:1 gears on a new positraction differential).
George wasn’t looking to torch L.A. He just wanted a smooth cruiser (packing a beavertail sap), so he removed the body, sandblasted the frame, and shellacked it with black powdercoating. Then, he ran stainless steel brake lines. He set the stance with Eibach 2-inch lowering springs and staunched wheel movement with KYB gas-charged shocks. He retained the original antisway bars but fitted new links and bushings. He beefed up the back end with Edelbrock sway bar, antihop bars and its upper and (adjustable) lower control arms as well.
In The Belly
With the cash roll considerably smaller than when he began, George opted for a completely redone but completely stock interior. To provide a firm foundation for electrical systems, he installed an M&H Electric wiring harness. Henry Torres in Riverside applied repro seat covers, door panels, and rear panels while George had the instruments refurbished by Instrument Services in Roscoe, Illinois. He graced the tiller with an Original Parts Group Elite GT 14-inch steering wheel, and then grabbed a couple of cool ones to muse about it. Is there music? “I have a Classic Autosound head unit, but it’s not connected because I couldn’t hear it anyway!”