LT1 and a T56 in a 55 Chevy

Discussion in 'Engine: Repairs , Modifications ,trouble shooting ' started by 2Loose, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Although not a muscle car, per se, when I get through with this 55 CHEVY project, it will be!

    In '93 I bought one of the first Z28, LT1 six speed Camaro's to come out of the NW, bought it in Seattle and shipped it back to Maui. The motor was advertised as a 2 bolt main, 285 hp efi 350, with a speed density system and batch fire injectors. I think the 285 hp was because Chevy couldn't let the Camaro have as much hp as the LT1 Corvette, which was advertised as 300 hp! If you took note at the time, the rpm that they stated the hp at was different! The 'Vette also got the 4 bolt block, the Camaro the 2 bolt block!

    It also had the older style plug in chip system, and I was able to get custom chips burnt for about $25 each. Upgraded to a fresh air system, Arizona Speed and Marine headers, removed the cat and installed a true dual system with a cross-connect (no under car inspection in Hawaii), installed an adjustable fuel pressure regulator to fine tune with, and put 4.56 gears in. With the T56, new shocks and good rubber, it was a fun car to drive around Maui. Until I lost it on a curvey road one dark and stormy night and went into the tree harvesting business! Totaled the Camaro, but I was able to walk away from it, sort of....

    Kept the motor and tranny, and rebuilt the motor into a 396 with ported Trick Flow heads, ported the plenum to match the heads, and enlarged the front of the plenum to take a larger TB. Upgraded the injectors and picked up a used early edition FAST controller that should work well with this motor with a sequential injector fire system. Put a new OltiSpark with the vented enclosure on.

    The early T56's in the Camaros had a lower first gear than the later models did, here's the ratios: 3.36 2.07 1.35 1.00 0.80 0.62

    I picked up this '55 Chevy hardtop to put this motor/trans in 7 years ago, but it got sidetracked due to some health and family problems that needed my attention. Then the '55 gasser and the '55 4x4 truck took priority for awhile. And my '58 pro street truck is now 15 years on the road, and needed some "freshening up", so the hardtop just kept sitting. I always knew when a project is "done", it really is never really just "done"..... :roll:

    Yesterday was the day to pull the hardtop out of storage, and haul it up to my main shop 15 miles away and get started on it. Will post pix and keep this thread on going as the car comes together.

    The vision is a low sitting, good handling, fun to drive, 500 hp LT1 396 with a T56 and 9" locker, minitubbed with good rubber all around.

    When I bought it, the motor was a wheezy, oil leakin' 350/350 combo, on stock rims with stock suspension, stock interior, and the magnet found a bit of bondo here and there.


    The early work I did included a minitub job, slung the springs in under the frame rails, narrowed a 9" with a detroit locker and 4.11 gears, put slappers on the rear springs. Then the motor let go, so it want into storage. This pix was just before the storage:


    Here's a concept drawing I did when I first got the car:


    There are lots of decisions to be made, bucket seats vs the bench. Dechroming vs keeping the Bel Air trim. Just how far do I want to go with the frame. Have visited both Jim Meyer's shop and Art Morrison's shop, both offer quality products.

    Or do a body off and setup my own custom frame (a whole lot more work, but I feel capable of doing it). It's just that as I turn 71, just how far do I want to go with this car?

    I would like to get it on the road and enjoy it, along with the rest of my growing 'fleet' (the '55 street gasser, the '55 4x4 stepside, and the '58 pro street truck), which I am now enjoying each day....
    (eenie - meenie - mainie - moe, which car today is gonna show.....)

    I did start a project page when I was doing that initial work on this car, will start adding to that as I make progress:
    LINK to the hardtop project page....

    "2Loose" Willy
    87vette81big likes this.
  2. Indycars

    Indycars Administrator Staff Member

    When I grow up I want to be like you! :D

    Can we blame your accident with the Camaro on youthful exuberance ??? If that don't make sense, then how old were you???

    For a second you had me with this photo on your website. Showed it to the wife and said, I hope this happens to me someday and then waited for her reaction.


    Attached Files:

  3. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Well, I wrecked the Camaro in '97, so would have been 55. I had a windy stretch of road nearby that seldom had any traffic in the middle of the day, where I used to go and do some road testing! As I upgraded components on the Camaro, the efi system, headers, rear gears, tires, I got very good at negotiating this section of road at 80-90! Then one day came through this one curve that was in shade, and the road hadn't dried out from an earlier shower yet, downshifted as I came into the corner and the rear broke loose, counter steered into the slippage but couldn't catch it or stop it as it spun out! Went through a fence spinning, took out the first tree with the tail end, the impact broke the back of my seat and laid me down flat, then it spun to the right and smashed in the passenger side door, just lucky I didn't have a passenger with me! Was afraid of a fire with that rear end crushed, but got the ignition turned off. Had to kick out the driver's window to get out, the door was jammed solid. Climbed up out of the trees to the road and there were several folks who had stopped, they were amazed I walked away from it! A tow truck driver just happened to come along after finishing another tow job, and for $80 cash pulled it out of the trees and towed it home, about 10 miles away. My wife was some PO'd at me, she loved that car! I self insure for comp and collision, always have, first time I ever wrecked a car that wasn't somebody else plowing into me! So the wreck was mine. A cop came by and talked to me about it, didn't do anything, as I had already contacted the property owner and arranged to get the fence repaired for him. But he wanted to know how fast I was going, I admitted probably about 85 when I lost it. He just shook his head as he looked at what was left of the poor camaro sitting in my driveway, told me I was lucky I wasn't injured. Had black and blue marks on my ribs and waist line from the seat belt for a couple weeks though.

    The motor and tranny were undamaged, so salvaged them and a few other parts, the rest went to the crusher.

    Has it slowed me down any? Not really, just more careful now about checking out the road conditions first!
  4. Indycars

    Indycars Administrator Staff Member

    Now your signature makes more sense! :D

  5. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Indy, I love your upgrade on the speed limit sign! That guy with the blown '55 in that photo is a well known hot rodder and racer from Texas, can't quite come up with a name, but I will....
  6. Indycars

    Indycars Administrator Staff Member

    The old speed limit of 155 just seemed a little slow for today's speeds!

    Wondered if anyone would catch that! :D

  7. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

  8. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Just decoded the cowl tag numbers, the original colors of this car were "India Ivory over Navaho Tan"....
    Now I just need to find out what Navaho Tan looks like. Might be a really cool color....
  9. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

  10. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    A buddy of mine told me that back in the day, his parents referred to that color as "baby diaper brown".....
  11. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Today gonna pull the front clip off, and the doors, might as well lift the body off and do a nice job on the frame as long as I am this far along....
  12. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Started pulling the front end apart....

    Now pulling the suspension off, then the motor/trans come out, then the doors come off, then the body is going up in the air.....
    Wish I had a "rotisserie"....

    Page 2 LINK....
  13. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Got the front frame stripped and the motor/tranny is now out....

    Not sure if I have room to hoist the body up off the frame, am looking at it. It would be good to get it all clean and fresh paint under there, and put in some new body mount donuts....

    Then hang the new motor/tranny in the frame and fab some good stout side mounts. I have a custom way I like to do it, let's see how it comes out....

    The front suspension parts are in good shape, just need a cleanup, some new bushings and some fresh paint. Think anyone doing a tri-five resto might be interested in them?

    LINK to my page....
  14. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    I think I'm going to just jack the body up off the frame enough to get under it and clean and paint. There's too many projects going on around me at the "Old Dudes Shop", not much room, so am thinking just jack the body up enough to get under it and make everything clean, painted, and put it back together...
    LINK to the Old Dudes Shop Page....

    Started working on the floors today, chipping, scraping, cleaning it up, not too bad really, but some definite thin spots I need to address....

    And still need to weld in the "minitubs" and some other pieces in the trunk....

    Usually I fill in the piece behind the rear seat solid, but might make the back seat a flip down so a surfboard could be put in the trunk through this area into the back seat, or any other long object....

    I have the front bucket seats from the '93 Camaro the LT1 came out of, and the back seat, thinking of adapting it to this car....

    Set up a page for the work on the floors and trunk....
  15. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    As I really want to get this car on the road and drive it, am rethinking just how far I want to go with it!

    At last nite's "Fender Friday" session, it was agreed that the condition of the car is so good that it would make sense to just do a really nice clean up job! Clean, paint and refresh everything to look good, like the frame rails, firewall, floors, brake lines, then just start putting it back together....

    CPP 500 power steering box, power brake MC, new windshield wiper setup, put in the motor and tranny, new wire kit throughout, leave the existing paint and upholstery for now, it's really in pretty good shape!

    Then just drive it for awhile, and enjoy it. Then gradually work on the upholstery and patching up the existing paint here and there as needed, but keep it essentially as is! Eventually the front and rear glass need to be popped out and the glass frame reworked to clean it and remove rust, then reinstall the glass (it is in good condition) with new rubber, the existing stuff is hard as a rock!

    I'll get it on the road a lot faster then trying to do a complete frame off and body rework, and will be able to enjoy it a lot more, which really is the goal here, as I never intended this to be a "show car"....

    And it will fit my budget for this car a lot better!
  16. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Things moving slower than I want, too many other things going on in life, like the "Honey-Do" list....

    Got the rear tubs both sides trimmed and fitted pretty well. Filled in the spare tire well and welded in some other pieces I had cut out back there when I was moving the springs in under the frame rails. Got the right side tub welded in place, still have to weld in the left side, then I will fill in the gap over the top on both sides, and weld in a supports for the trunk hinges.

  17. Indycars

    Indycars Administrator Staff Member

    Wish I was there, it would be nice to see how it's done. Maybe it would
    not seem like such insurmountable task from my viewpoint !

  18. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    Sometimes ya just gotta "commit" yerself, or as my wife likes to say, "yeah, you oughta be committed...."

    Got sidetracked by my '55 gasser project, as I wanted to get into the 11's or even the 10's at the track, but an eye accident stopped that, am aiming for Apr track date now on that project....

    Back on the hardtop, fitting the left side tub, got it welded in and had to fill in a lot of rotted metal on that side, cut and fit pieces of sheet metal, will post pix soon....

    Sometimes things move way slower than I think they should, but hey, kinda the story of my life....
    Aloha to all,
  19. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    "Sometimes things move way slower than I think they should, but hey, kinda the story of my life...."

    at times that about sums things up, I remember thinking ,
    what I forgot is

  20. 2Loose

    2Loose reliable source of info

    That's just the way it is....
    I'm just glad that I thought forward enough when I was working and picked up a pretty good inventory of the parts I thought I would need to do the things I'm doing now. Like the Doug Nash I put in the gasser, and the 6/71 Don Hampton setup for a BB Olds, lots of other stuff like that. Carbs, MSD, just would see a deal and pick it up. And have used most or will use them, the rest can go later when I can't do this anymore.

    I've gotta stop looking closely at the 55 hardtop body! When I got the car, it looked pretty good from ten feet away! Then I started seeing all these little blisters, and just couldn't stop myself from digging at them, bondo, some of it pretty deep, and now there are a whole bunch of "open wounds" all over the car!

    I told myself initially that I would just do the floors, structural body parts underneath, minitubs, frame clean up, clean up or replace the brake lines, fuel lines as needed, make it really clean underneath, then total rewire kit (using the American Autowire 55 chevy upgraded kit), then the motor/tranny and get it running with the present paint/upholstery!

    Do them later when I have the money....
    And just drive the wheels off it....

    But I just can't seem to stop myself from digging at these blisters, shoulda just left well enough alone!!!

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