We continue with our conversation with The Colonel.
Q- You surely had some memorable experiences with that engine in the car.
A- Yes...several...once revved it up to 6,800 RPM which was almost scary. Another time cruising at 4,000 RPM for an extended period...with wonderful sounds coming from the engine.
Q- You were young back then and perhaps invincible.
A- You had to be young and invincible to to do certain things with that car.
Q- Are you saying that the rest of the car was not "engineered" to deal with the power.
Q- Care to expand?
A- That car started life as an econo 6 cylinder coupe, with a barely adequate suspension, manual steering with many turns lock to lock, and drum brakes with no pwer assisi and a single circuit.
Q- In hindsight although it was a few decades ago, what did you learn about the engine?
A- It was reasonable for an engine built on a student budget, and if you want to spin engines you need a rebore to have proper ring sealing. When you experiment, get creative you have to be ready for more than less work. Small block Chevies need cooling (water and oil) if you want to run them hard.
Q- Cooling...run them hard?
A- A 327 with a Duntov cam, and a bigger than smaller carburetor you had a to keep the revs up to get achieve a level of performance, which usually entailed more than less cooling, and needless to mention poor fuel economy. There was a good level of power, but not the ideal street engine for a daily driver.
Q- Back then who cared?
A- Precisely...the idea was to have a lively small block, one that came alive, with a limited bottom end, but an explosive top end. In a hindsight a 350 with the longer stroke was a slow engine compared to a 327 that one instant was at 3,000 and another at 6,000.
Q- No rev limiters / governors.
A- You were the ECU with your right foot, and at those revolutions and without a scattershield missing a shift was not an option. You would slam a 1 to 2 shift very hard to ensure that it went into second gear, the Hurst shifter was not a luxury.
Q- What did you learn about the car...in hindsight?
A- These were the days of bias belted tires, 5 inch rims, X frames, no stabiliser bars, long winded steerings, and drum brakes, and on a student budget.
Q- Of all the shortcomings...you mentioned several...which one was the worst?
A- The brakes- you simply could not stop those cars, never could apply enough pressure with manual brakes, the brakes would heat up, they would fade, the linings would glaze which then required even more pressure.
Q- Sounds like a vicious circle...brake fade?
A- Brake fade is one of the most helpless feelings, you need to scrub off speed, applying all the pressure you can muster, while the brake pedal slowly sinks to the floor.
Q- That must be an awful feeling...especially when you really need to stop?
A- You do learn a valuable lesson, do not put yourself in a position where you need to scrub off a ton of speed in a short distance, use the engine (down shift) to slow down initially, then the brakes.
Q- Heard that the 64 Chevy had a brake booster.
A- That one had the "unobtanium" 4 speed, and a monster brake booster that would literally smoke the linings in the drums...it stops or it all melts!
Q- What other lessons did you learn from that 327 experience.
A- 1-An undying affinity for power 2- Never enough brakes on a car 3- From the 63 to the 64, to the 67 Camaro, to the 79 Camaro, to the engine block in the garage...