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    1. #1
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada

      70 Chevelle build on a college budget

      Hey guys,

      This is something I've been wanting to do for some time! I think the project is far enough along now that I have a good amount of pictures and information to share.



      First a little about me and about the car. The car is a 1970 Chevelle originally from California, it was originally a Mailbu but I have since taken some steps towards making it an SS clone.
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      The car started out gold but is now in dark grey epoxy primer and has been for the better part of 10 years, which is about how long I have owned the car (somewhere between 10-12 years but the exact details are a bit fuzzy). Now 10-12 years might be quite a long time to own a car and I agree, but I'm sure some of you are looking at the title and thinking college budget? Owned for 10+ years? something isn't adding up. Well actually it is, I have owned the car since I was 9 or 10 and I'm now 21 just finishing my bachelors degree in university. The car was/is a father and son project that we had finished for the time I was 16. In that finished state which I'll call stage 1, the car had a 350 with some better heads, a 3/4 race cam and an edelbrock torquer 2 intake. This was all backed by a th350 trans with a shift kit and switched between a 12 bolt posi with 4.11:1 gears and a 10 bolt posi with 3.08:1 gears with mainly the 10 bolt in for the last few years for easier highway driving.

      Now onto stage 2 of the build. The idea here was that I wanted a car that would be a decently fast drag car and also be able to cruise on the highway. So I started thinking about an overdrive transmission. That researching led me to the 4L80E, something strong enough to hold some power and still overdrive (no 6 speed for this car because I couldn't bring myself to cut the mint California floors). I began reading about LS swaps and I thought it would be cool to do something that is super uncommon in my area. I stumbled across a cube van (2005 GMC Savana 3500) with a 6.0L and a 4L80E for a good price and snapped it up.
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      After a quick test to make sure the engine ran and the trans went through all the gears, we got to work!
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      The engine, transmission, wiring harness and ECU were pulled out for the project.
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      With some help from my girlfriend we got the engine cleaned up!
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      Next it was time for some upgrades. I switched from 317 heads to 243's, new main and rod bearings and a Tick Performance SNS stage 2 cam
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      A little more help with lapping the valves
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      And installing the new springs
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      I also picked up a few pieces for later. Hooker headers, Holley/hooker motor mounts and trans crossmember
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      I was planning on running a trailblazer SS intake but I decided to run an Edelbrock Victor Jr intake and Holley 4150 style throttle body to try and make the engine look a little more at home in the Chevelle engine bay. The engine then got a nice coat of Chevrolet orange.
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    2. #2
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
      With the 6.0L prepped for install it was time to take the smallblock out of the Chevelle
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      the foam LS was mocked up
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      The firewall got a nice cleaning and a fresh coat of paint and we were ready for the LS to go in
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      Now somewhere between when we started and when we got to this point there was a change in the direction of this build. The original plan was to put the stock 6.0L in the Chevelle as it was and continue on our way. Somehow putting in the vintage air kit that I had for the car ended up with a dash and gauge change and a set of valve cover adapters. Basically when I was installing the vintage air kit, the dash had to come out so I took that opportunity to put an SS style dash in the car (something I had been wanting to do), along with the SS dash came a set of Dakota digital gauges because well why not?
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      The valve cover adapters are Billet Specialties BBC to LS adapters and I guess they came from a change in views on my part. Somewhere along the way I realized I didn't want to ruin the integrity of a Chevelle and that I wanted the cleanest most classic appearing LS I could realistically make happen. This is also what sparked the SS clone because whats cooler than a 70 Chevelle SS?
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      I used Holley/Hooker everything (motor mounts, oil pan and headers) for the engine install and honestly it worked flawlessly, definitely one of the pricier LS swap kits but in my opinion its well worth it. The engine went in first try with no screwing around. With the test fit of the foam LS I learned that I couldn't get the drivers side header in with the engine installed so I laid it in the engine bay prior to install (I later learned the header can come of and go back on from underneath the car with the car on a lift).
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      With the engine in, I began mocking up the Holley mid mount accessory drive. It tucks everything up nice and tight.
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      After the engine was in I started on the transmission. A nice cleaning, before the transgo shift kit was installed (I left out the pressure relief valve that is known to fail and installed a sonnax line to lube regulator valve) along with a new filter.
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      The trans then got a fresh coat of paint
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      And a Circle D 3500 stall converter
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    3. #3
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
      With the transmission ready for install it was jacked up and checked for clearance. We did some slight clearancing to the floor but nothing major and nothing visible on the inside of the car. We then ran into a slight snag with the trans crossmember and some old body mount bushings. The solution was to replace the old bushings with a new set from energy suspension. Once the new bushings were installed it was time to put the transmission in.
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      Once the trans was in it was on to the fuel system. I used a Tanks inc. fuel injection tank and in tank pump.
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      along with a corvette style regulator which is mounted to the original gas tank vent mount.
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      I used the existing 3/8" hard line for the majority of the fuel line along with some AN lines to finish it off.
      One of the problems with stage 1 of the car was the tire on the front. I switched the car to 18" Ridler wheels a few years back and ended up having some rubbing issues on the top of the inner fender. My plan to solve the problem was to stiffen up the front spring rate. To accomplish this I decided to switch the car to coil-overs. I picked up a front and rear coil-over conversion from Aldan American. Before I got to installing the coil-overs I decided to go a bit further with the suspension and ordered front control arms from UMI along with rear upper and lower control arms and a rear sway bar. In the front I'm also running 0.5" taller lower ball joints and 0.9" taller uppers along with my existing 2" drop spindle.
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      front installed
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      and the rear, which also included a swap from the 10 bolt back to the 12 bolt
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      - - - Updated - - -

      Quote Originally Posted by David Sloan View Post
      Looking good!
      Keep the updates coming!
      Thanks David!

      - - - Updated - - -

      Quote Originally Posted by csouth View Post
      Nice start! did you check for clearance on the valve cover adapters? I know if some people have issues with the proximity to the brake booster.
      I did! I originally thought I was going to have a problem but once the trans was in and the engine settled I think I will be ok. I'll be sure to check when I have it running to make sure the vibrations don't cause any issues!

    4. #4
      Join Date
      Aug 2002
      Location
      Waleska Ga.
      Posts
      2,604
      Country Flag: United States

    5. #5
      Join Date
      Dec 2008
      Location
      Detroit
      Posts
      2,476
      Country Flag: United States
      Nice start! did you check for clearance on the valve cover adapters? I know if some people have issues with the proximity to the brake booster.
      Big dreams, small pockets....

      Chris--
      '72 Cutlass S LSA/T56 Magnum
      Bowler Performance, Rushforth Wheels, ATS, Holley EFI, KORE3, Ridetech

      Project Motor City Madness

    6. #6
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
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      A couple more shots of the rear suspension
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      A couple shots of the car back on the ground after some coilover adjustment


      Now for a bit about the wiring side of the swap. The harness is a takeout from the donor that I modified. I removed everything following LT1swap including the rear O2 sensors. I used split loom to cover the whole harness. The fans, fuel pump and starter are all run off relays that are hidden in whats left of the glove box (it has to be cut to fit the vintage air unit in the cab). Along with the relays in the glovebox are my switches for the digital dash and my wideband afr gauge. which allows me to open the door while driving and see the gauge and then close it at a show or when parked and have the gauge hidden.
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      I mounted the OBD2 port in the ash tray so it can also be hidden
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      The ECM is mounted under the dash pad. My plan with everything was to have either hidden or able to be hidden to keep the clean stock appearing interior
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      On the engine side of the wiring everything is tucked up as tight as it can be and hidden if possible. I won't be running a MAF sensor because of the intake setup, so the car will be run on a speed density tune. I plan on doing all or most of the tuning myself (I don't have access to a dyno to accurately set the timing tables so I'm still figuring that part out). I will be doing the tuning using HPtuners. I have only tuned one other swap which was a stock ls3 from a camaro that we put into a 70 C10, which meant the tuning was much simpler than this swap will be considering I changed much more (heads, cam, intake, injectors, throttle body). I also had some practice time tuning both MAF and speed density on a 2005 avalanche, so I know the process once I actually get the car to start and run (and figure out the idle tuning), I'm definitely excited to get the car dialed in and I enjoy doing as much of the build myself as possible.


      Back to the engine bay! To go along with the classic look I got my hands on an original style cowl induction air cleaner for the car along with some stock style BBC valve covers.
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      Because of the new radiator and dual fan setup I started modifying the rad cover. Using a second original rad cover I added enough length to cover the rad and the fans
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    7. #7
      Join Date
      Apr 2001
      Location
      The City of Fountains
      Posts
      15,673
      Country Flag: United States
      Good looking project and nice work!

      Andrew
      1970 GTO Version 2.0
      1967 Cougar build
      GM High-Tech Performance feature
      My YouTube Channel Please Subscribe!
      Instagram @projectgattago
      Dr. EFI
      I deliver what EFI promises.
      Remote Holley EFI tuning.
      Please get in touch if I can be of service.

      "You were the gun, your voice was the trigger, your bravery was the barrel, your eyes were the bullets." ~ Her

    8. #8
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
      Quote Originally Posted by andrewb70 View Post
      Good looking project and nice work!

      Andrew
      Thanks Andrew! I've been following along with the GTO build for a while now, your air cleaner set up is in part what inspired my set up

    9. #9
      Join Date
      May 2010
      Location
      kitchener,Ontario,Canada
      Posts
      2,181
      Country Flag: Canada
      Nice work , nice to see you have g.f and family involved adds to the sense of accomplishment when the cars finished . Where are you. .out west ?
      Spinnin'my tires in life's fast lane

      Ryan Austin
      On twitter @raustinss
      On Instagram austinss70

    10. #10
      Join Date
      Aug 2004
      Location
      Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
      Posts
      1,311
      Country Flag: Canada
      great progress! Where in Canada are you?
      Matt
      72 Chevelle 370ci LS Turbo. Speedtech equipped.
      Instagram: Cst_koon

    11. #11
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
      Quote Originally Posted by raustinss View Post
      Nice work , nice to see you have g.f and family involved adds to the sense of accomplishment when the cars finished . Where are you. .out west ?
      Quote Originally Posted by protour_chevelle View Post
      great progress! Where in Canada are you?
      Thanks guys! I'm in Nova Scotia. I definitely lucked out with the support I get from them on this project, it wouldn't be possible without them.

      Matt I've been following your chevelle on here and instagram for a while, super cool car!

    12. #12
      Join Date
      Aug 2004
      Location
      Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
      Posts
      1,311
      Country Flag: Canada
      Quote Originally Posted by lsx70 View Post
      Thanks guys! I'm in Nova Scotia. I definitely lucked out with the support I get from them on this project, it wouldn't be possible without them.

      Matt I've been following your chevelle on here and instagram for a while, super cool car!
      Nice! I was looking in the pics for hints of where you were from. Didn't see a front plate so I was going to guess Alberta haha.
      Matt
      72 Chevelle 370ci LS Turbo. Speedtech equipped.
      Instagram: Cst_koon

    13. #13
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
      Quote Originally Posted by protour_chevelle View Post
      Nice! I was looking in the pics for hints of where you were from. Didn't see a front plate so I was going to guess Alberta haha.
      There is actually a front plate, but it wouldnít help much lol. Itís a California black plate since the car is from California. Was your car original paint when you got it? It was your grandparents right?

    14. #14
      Join Date
      Aug 2004
      Location
      Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
      Posts
      1,311
      Country Flag: Canada
      Quote Originally Posted by lsx70 View Post
      There is actually a front plate, but it wouldnít help much lol. Itís a California black plate since the car is from California. Was your car original paint when you got it? It was your grandparents right?
      I figured the California plate had some history to it. Grandpa bought mine new and painted in like 2 weeks after, apparently he didnt like the shade of it. Its not much different as the inside of the trunk lid wasn't painted.

      In regards to the 4l80e gear ratio, I ran 4:10s. No complaints, with a torque converter its going to be perfect. LS engines are pretty pathetic under 3000rpm so the converter helps kill that dead spot.
      Matt
      72 Chevelle 370ci LS Turbo. Speedtech equipped.
      Instagram: Cst_koon

    15. #15
      Join Date
      Jul 2017
      Location
      Island Lake, IL
      Posts
      145
      Country Flag: United States
      This blew past my college budget already haha. Keep the progress!

    16. #16
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
      Quote Originally Posted by Jonathonar89 View Post
      This blew past my college budget already haha. Keep the progress!
      Haha it blew past my original budget too, but I'm lucky enough to have two parents that are also in the hobby so christmas and birthdays usually bring a few car parts with them. It also saves a big chunk doing everything in house.

    17. #17
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
      More progress incoming

      When the front suspension upgrades were going on I pulled the inner fenders out and decided to give them a makeover as well
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      We have a paintbooth in one of the bays in the shop so it makes spraying pieces like this less of a hassle. These are sprayed base clear with GM black
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      I think they turned out pretty well for my first time spraying clear. This is just out of the gun with no cut/buff and I don't think I will.


      I am running both a transmission cooler and power steering cooler. The trans cooler is a B&M supercooler and the power steering cooler is a Derale unit
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      I also made some progress on the A/C, all that's left now is to figure out how to wire it to allow the ECM to know when the A/C is on or off so it can bump the idle and turn the fans on
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      The rad and fans are also in and I made a rad hose to clear everything. The rest of the front drive is also buttoned up
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      Catch can is installed. It's a mighty mouse unit, a little pricier than I would've liked but it is a really nice piece.
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      I ran what I think is a pretty trick fresh air side of the PCV but I'll get to that later. The next step while the hood was off was to make the cowl induction function
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      The car has had a cowl hood basically since I've had it, but the flapper door was just propped open. Christmas brought a proper cowl induction kit so I was good and ready to have that door working.

    18. #18
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      385
      Country Flag: United States
      Very sharp looking job on that engine. It almost looks like a period-correct engine. I do see a water leak ready to happen though. That rubber hose from the intake to the back of the water pump will be under pressure, but there's no clamps on the hose.

      Also, if you can lay your hands on one or get one made, a low gear set for the 4L80E you're sticking in would be an excellent upgrade. I had a Silverado with the 2.75 1st - 1.57 2nd in a 4L80E and it really helped on initial takeoff. I replaced a 4L60E with the 4L80E, and the 4L80E 1st gear was the same ratio as the 4L60E 2nd gear ratio, so stock it was like taking off in 2nd gear. The low gearset made it take off more like a 4L60E only without the huge 1-2 RPM drop. Mine was TCI, but they're not made anymore and did require some machine work to actually make it fit right, but it was well worth the investment. It would also let you go with a higher gearset on the rear end, which would make the overdrive that much better without losing takeoff power.

    19. #19
      Join Date
      Apr 2021
      Posts
      37
      Country Flag: Canada
      Quote Originally Posted by Vimes View Post
      Very sharp looking job on that engine. It almost looks like a period-correct engine. I do see a water leak ready to happen though. That rubber hose from the intake to the back of the water pump will be under pressure, but there's no clamps on the hose.

      Also, if you can lay your hands on one or get one made, a low gear set for the 4L80E you're sticking in would be an excellent upgrade. I had a Silverado with the 2.75 1st - 1.57 2nd in a 4L80E and it really helped on initial takeoff. I replaced a 4L60E with the 4L80E, and the 4L80E 1st gear was the same ratio as the 4L60E 2nd gear ratio, so stock it was like taking off in 2nd gear. The low gearset made it take off more like a 4L60E only without the huge 1-2 RPM drop. Mine was TCI, but they're not made anymore and did require some machine work to actually make it fit right, but it was well worth the investment. It would also let you go with a higher gearset on the rear end, which would make the overdrive that much better without losing takeoff power.
      you are right about the clamps, but itís an older picture, I have clamps on there now! Youíll see them soon in one of my upcoming updates!

      as for the gear set I thought the 4L80E had a 2.48 first gear compared to the 3.0 something of the 4L60? I think with the 4.10 rear gears I should be ok, I had that rearend with those gears so it was more budget conscious for me to use it instead of changing gears in the trans and rearend. With the 0.75 overdrive of the 4L80 that should make my final drive ratio in overdrive equivalent to 3.08 which is what I had in the car before. That lets me cruise on the highway at 110-120 km/h at around 2-2500 rpm which Iím happy with. Of course lower gears in the trans would be awesome for more bottom end but I donít think itís in the cards for this car.

      i appreciate the compliments on the engine! Iíll have some more pictures of it posted soon in itís almost complete form. Itís one of the parts of the build that took the most thought and effort so the compliment means a lot!

    20. #20
      Join Date
      Apr 2011
      Location
      Rosser Manitoba Canada
      Posts
      244
      Country Flag: Canada
      Nice project. Its good to see more Canadians here. When you went through the project many years ago did the frame get a lot of attention? If I had chose a GM for my project that was my source and choice for powertrain. If I got a Dodge I would have used a hemi Pickup. I even thought of a Toyota pickup for a power source if I had done a Solara.
      The biggest thing in Motocross!
      My 97 Cougar Transcona, https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...-Dirty-Old-XR7

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