502 To Go GoQ I have a '68 El Camino with a 350 and a four-speed M-21. I want to add a 502 crate engine. Will I need to do anything special to make it fit? I'm also looking for a nice setup for a clutch and flywheel combination and a good set of headers that will fit with the least amount of hammering in. I want this car to be a driver with plenty of power, but very reliable. Any pointers you can give will help. Thanks in advance!Jeff SalvatiniPalatine, IL
A Jeff, the engine bay of an early A-body just isn't happy until it has a big-block sitting in it! Any of the 502 crate engines from GM Performance Parts are a great choice for a nice street driver. Let's look at some of the parts that will help you out.
Hooker offers a nice set of headers in their Super Comp line that are full-length 1 7/8-inch primary pipes, 35 inches long with 3 1/2-inch collectors. These headers fit in the engine compartment with minimal, if any, hammer love with a Ford Ignition Tool (32-ounce ball-peen hammer). You can pick these headers up from Hooker under PN 2250HKR. The only thing I don't like about these headers is the ground clearance. If the car is very low, you may have a problem. For more information, contact Hooker at (270) 781-9741, or online at www.holley.com. If you plan on setting your Camino in the weeds, look at a set of Hedman medium-length headers, which have much shorter primary pipes and the collectors are moved up alongside the bellhousing. The primary pipes are 1 3/4-inch with a 3-inch collector. With this design you can suck the exhaust up under the car and clear the nastiest speed bump. The headers are sold under PN 68610. Hedman says that in some cases with aluminum heads, you may need to notch the header flange for them to clear the lower row of cylinder head bolts. This is no big deal and can either be done with a bench grinder or small handheld grinder. For more information, contact Hedman Hedders at (562) 921-0404, or online at www.hedman.com
With over 550 lb-ft of torque on tap, you will need a good clamp between the engine and your M-21. The Dual Friction Centerforce clutch gives you the best of both worlds. They give you a smooth, light pedal effort with the maximum amount of clamping force to tame your big-block. The Centerforce Dual Friction 11-inch pressure plate and disc is sold under PN DF735552. To round out your link between the engine and trans, go with one of their billet-steel flywheels. The Gen V and VI H.O. big-block Chevys have a specific counterweighted flywheel for those engines. Centerforce sells that wheel under PN 700148. This will keep the shakes out of your driveline. You can reach Centerforce at (928) 771-8422, or online at www.centerforce.com for more information.
Stop The FlexQ I own a '66 Malibu and I'm planning on swapping the engine. It currently has a 230ci I-6 and I want to add some power, just to have fun on the street and maybe take it to the track once or twice a year. I've been toying with the idea of dropping in a 383 or 427 small-block, or even a 454 or 509 big-block. I probably don't need to go beyond 500 hp, and everyone has an opinion on whether I should go big or small. Most arguments for a small-block are that I can get the power and it will be cheaper and lighter. My question is, regardless of the engine I choose, can the car can handle that much power without stiffening the frame. I've already purchased a 12-bolt posi with 4.10 gears and I plan on using a TH350 or TH400 trans. What are my options for stiffening the frame besides a rollcage-and is it even necessary? Thanks for your time.Richard WilsonVia e-mail