There’s no telling where Trent Wendell found the truck 454, maybe it was at the other end of the farmer’s field. He shuttled the slug to Fenton Machine Shop. There, it was bored 0.030-over, the rotating assembly was balanced, crank ground 10/10, and the decks of the heads and the cylinder block were squared. The compression ratio needed a bump, so Trent specified that JE pistons produce a 10.5:1 compression ratio when fitted to the combustion chambers of the iron Chevrolet cylinder heads. He installed a COMP Cams K11-208-3 hydraulic flat-tappet stick that provides 0.520-inch lift and duration numbers of 230 degrees at 0.050 inch for both intake and exhaust valves. Pushrods and rocker arms are stock Chevrolet; fasteners are ARP throughout. Induction is heightened by an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake manifold and a Holley 850-cfm carburetor. Fuel is delivered by a Holley Blue pump. An MSD 6AL box sends the arc light. For the ace up his sleeve, Trent plumbed in a N.O.S. Big Shot plate worthy of a 200hp hit. Burned hydrocarbons are extracted by ceramic-coated Hedman 13/4-inch primaries leading to a 21/2-inch collector and Flowmaster 44 mufflers. For the accessory drive, Trent fashioned his own serpentine system around an ’00 Grand Am power steering pump and alternator (as well as room for the Vintage Air compressor). An aluminum core and engine-driven fan help keep the big-block temperate. For the correct strength and seeming longevity, Trent got him a 700-R4 and paired it with a Corvette converter and a 2,200-stall speed. The rear axle has Positraction and 3.36:1 gears.
Wheels & Brakes
You can’t go wrong with five-spoke wheels, especially ones that mimic the original Americans. Trent knocked on Rev Classic 100 rims (17x8, 18x9) and fixed them with Conti Extreme Contact big ’n’ littles, sizes 245/45 and 275/40. As for the binders, Trent stayed conservative but added some of his know-how. He built a custom actuation unit from an ’08 Ford Explorer. He blueprinted it and created new 4.75mm lines. The front brakes use 10-inch rotors and are paired with the drum brakes.
There is no rollcage or other chassis-stiffening device, but Trent worked the suspension for looks as well as function. The spindles are CPP with a 2-inch drop. The powdercoated control arms are stock. He trimmed the original springs, losing another 2 inches and bringing the car 4 inches closer to the ground. Wheel movement is checked by Monroe shock absorbers. In the rear, Trent fashioned a custom-built rear stabilizer bar and applied a little black magic to the springs, screwed in Monroe adjustable air shocks, and dropped the back end 2 inches closer to the tarmac. All bushings and bearings were replaced with new.
Body & Paint
Daddy Dave and Trent jumped on the carcass to complete the bodywork. For the painting episode, they double-teamed the SS, each spraying one side of the car and then switching. Trent: “We’ve found that some of the best paintjobs are when we spray at the same time. We have matching guns and alternate sides as we go along.” The SS is devoid of “custom” modifications and lets the paint stand alone for effect. The men applied PPG basecoat/clear Hugger Orange. Trent smoothed the firewall, inner fender panels, and the core support. All the N.O.S. heater hoses, the MSD box, and engine wiring have been tucked away to maintain a clean, uncluttered appearance. They finished off the engine bay business with Ringbrothers hinges for the stock cowl hood, painted the same as the body color. The Ring boys are tops in Trent’s book. They gave him hints, help, and encouragement that he did not expect.