Our Project BluePrint Chevelle has made it through its final series of modifications, upgrades and tests and we couldn’t be happier. Not only did we upgrade our car’s power and performance by strapping a BluePrint carbureted LSX powerhouse between the front fenders, we also topped our new engine off with some amazing performance-driven goodies to give our vintage Chevy the best shot at being the ultimate pro-touring car.
From here, the sky is the limit, but instead of just moving on and forgetting about what we’ve done, let’s take a closer look at what our Chevelle now offers to our staff full of pro-touring enthusiasts.
Her Back Story
When we first introduced our Project BluePrint Chevelle last April, we already had some major plans for her. While we’ve gone wild on many of our project cars in the past (and continue to do so with our current projects), we had a distinct goal in mind for our classic Chevy.
This particular Chevelle offered us the perfect base for what we wanted to do, which was build an unstoppable pro-touring beast that was still comfortable to drive on the streets of Southern California. Of course, this went without saying who’s comfort level we’re targeting, but we tried to keep our project plans on the more tame end of the power spectrum.
When we first picked up the car, it was in excellent driving condition. A 468 ci big-block offered enough oomph to toodle around town as well as a bit of bite when we jumped on the gas pedal. Still, we only had 385 hp to play with. While the power numbers of the car weren’t substantially impressive, the body was straight, practically rust free, and even had a decent coat of paint on it.
We wanted a car that we could build, but didn’t want to have to spend all our time and money on perfecting the aesthetics and this Chevelle offered just that. Of course because of the condition of the car, we paid a pretty penny for the base vehicle, but it had what we needed and we could dive in and do what we do best – upgrades!
Suspension, Brakes, and Wheels
Once our BluePrint Chevelle was safely locked away in the Power Automedia garage, planning began to create the ultimate pro-touring beast. Just like with any good corner-carving car, we started with the suspension, brakes and wheels to best suit our ultimate goal.
Underneath the Chevelle, you’ll now find a full GM A-body suspension system from Ridetech, featuring upper and lower control arms, a splined front sway bar, rear swaybar, and an upper and lower trailing arm kit. This is complimented with adjustable coilovers for all four corners, a pair of spindles and Ridetech’s patented MUSCLEbar.
To help our 3,500-pound sledgehammer stop on a dime, we equipped the car with a SSBC 13-inch Big Brake Kit, featuring 13-inch slotted rotors, 2-inch drop spindles, a master cylinder, complete 9-inch booster and Tri-Power 3-piston calipers. A hefty addition to our A-body, but the big brakes gave us two coveted things in the pro-touring recipe: tons of stopping power and that awesome “Big Brake” look behind our wheels.
For hoops to perform in competitive arenas and look good doing it, we opted to go with a set from Billet Specialties’ Street Smart line. These 17×8-inch (front) and 17×9.5-inch (rear) hoops are clad in Continental rubber for ultimate gripping power, as well as an amazing stance.
Bringing Home the Power
Now with a suspension, brake and wheel/tire combination setup like this, we had to do the car even more justice when it came to equipping it with the proper powerhouse. So we began to map out our plan of attack to include an impressive LS swap from BluePrint Engines. They set us up with their GM 427 LS Series engine (PN PSLS4270CTC) retro-fitted with a carburetor and dressed to impress.
As we noted before, our Chevelle was powered by a 468 ci big-block when we got her, and although this is a substantial engine for its time, we wanted something a little more modern and with a bit more reliable power. So we tore out the old engine and threw in the brand new BluePrint LS.
This engine came to us in basic dress and sporting some of the best components in the industry, including a new GM LS3/L92 aluminum block and heads, featuring chromoly retainers and spring locators, 2.165 intake valves, 1.590 exhaust valves, and hardened push rods; a forged steel 4.125-stroke crank, forged 6.125-inch rods, and forged Mahle pistons with an 11.0:1 compression ratio.
The engine also features a hydraulic lifter camshaft with a .624 intake and .624 exhaust lift, as well as 247 intake 263 exhaust duration at .050, and a 114 degree lobe separation. The roller rockers that correspond with this are factory GM components with upgraded full roller trunion.
Completing the rotating assembly are Mahle performance rings, a premium single true roller timing set, and a non-weighted harmonic balancer, which came with the engine. Next, we added a Billet Specialties Top Mount Tru Trac serpentine system to the engine to support all the power we’d be pushing.
This is all supported by an MSD 6LS-2 Ignition Controller for LS applications, an ignition system that will allow us to grow with the car rather than pigeon-holing us into a certain fuel-delivery category for the long haul, as well as many components from Holley Performance, including a billet fuel filter, tubing, seals and all our fittings. This is all topped off with a RobbMC 1/2-inch sending unit and Fast Inline Fuel Pressure Regulator. We also fitted the engine with a Holley low-pressure, inline fuel pump for later endeavors.
Keeping an eye on our air/fuel ratio is an AEM Wideband Air/Fuel gauge, mixed in with a gamut of Dakota Digital VHX Series gauges on our dashboard.
A single-plane satin aluminum intake, coil packs and harness, ACDelco 41-985 spark plugs, crank, cam and MAP sensors also came fitted to our BluepPrint engine so now we were styling and ready to clock the miles. With valve covers, an oil pan and a timing cover in tow, the BluePrint engine gave us a potent base for our Chevelle.
Exhausting All Options
To support the power increase from our engine swap, we knew that we’d also have to increase the movement of exhaust gasses from the block. So we called Hedman Hedders for the perfect set of headers for LS swaps.
Because the engine compartment is a bit cramped in our Chevelle, we needed to make sure our headers would fit properly and the Hedmans gave us the snug-fitting, low-profile tubes we needed along with the LS Swap options and brackets.
These, we then paired with the American Thunder dual exhaust system offered by Flowmaster, specifically made for 60s GM A-body Chevelles with V-8 engines. We may be going modern but there’s no messing with that throaty exhaust sound of our classic muscle machine!
While the engine and suspension components are two major factors to consider when building a pro-touring beast, finding a viable transmission is just as important. Not only do you have to ensure your gearbox choice will stand up to the horsepower and performance demands you throw at it on the track or the street, you also want your transmission to work well with the type of use you’ll be throwing its way.
Because we built our Chevelle to compete in open track events, drag races, and even autocross competitions, we needed a strong and well rounded gear box. For both reliability and ease of use, we opted for an automatic transmission and got the best of all worlds with a Gearstar Level-4 4L65E.
Not only does this transmission offer us gear-slamming power for up to 600 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque, it also came with an 11-inch billet converter custom stalled to 2,600 rpm.
To control the transmission, we attached it to an HGM Compushift II transmission controller with AccuLinks TPS, specifically made for carbureted applications and topped everything off with a B&M Pro Stick Shifter.
While the ultimate goal for our Project BluePrint Chevelle was never to go crazy with power, we wanted to significantly increase the car’s reliability, handling qualities, and overall performance. After all, she has to be able to withstand the heat of any kind of competition we throw at her. So with our BluePrint engine in place, our suspension upgraded and everything in between tweaked as well, we can’t help but reflect on how far the Chevelle has come.
When we first picked up our 1964 A-body, she was a beauty on the outside, but not necessarily fitting of our goals underneath.
We changed that quickly, however, by upgrading the suspension, wheels, tires and brakes. These modifications not only added corner-carving abilities to our Chevelle, they also helped stabilize the car from annoying body roll, planted the beast to the pavement even in extreme conditions and allowed us to brake hard in the heat of a competitive arena.
In true pro-touring style, our baby now handles like a dream and gives us the reliability of new-school technology in an old-school body.
“The suspension upgrades gave our Chevelle a whole new stance,” Power Automedia Shop Manager Sean Goude reported. “We basically created a new-school hot rod. Now you can drive the car across the country and not even think about it, but can compete at a track event with ease.”
A car can handle like a dream but still leave a lot to be desired in the power department, so we remedied this with a built BluePrint engine. Prior to us taking out the old 468 ci big-block, our Chevelle was producing around 385 hp to the crank.
With the BluePrint 427ci LS in place, we immediately noticed a difference, not only in power but also response. Now instead of power numbers in the 300s, our Chevelle is boasting a whopping 485.11 hp to the rear wheels at 6,400 rpm and producing 427.79 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 rpm. That’s over 100 ponies gained and a hefty amount of torque to back it up.
And with an HGM Compushift II-controlled Gearstar Level 4 4L65e tied to the engine, it’s smooth sailing when it comes to shift response as well as engine reaction.
“The HGM Compushift II controller gave us the ability to change shift points and make the car function as a suitable daily driver if we wanted,” Goude said. “It gave us a lot more options, whether we wanted it to drive like a rocket or be used for cruising around town.”
Also added to our project car with the BluePrint engine and Gearstar transmission was a major improvement in the reliability department. Now instead of worrying about the lack of reliability from old parts, we get the longevity we expect from new cars out of our old school Chevelle, Goude explained. “It’s a night and day difference,” he added.
Our Project BluePrint Chevelle has been a blast to take from a beautiful cruising queen to a road hugging performance machine, and it’s been quite the journey getting there! Wrapping up our Project BluePrint Chevelle has been one of our favorite builds to-date, stay tuned for more to come.