Entries in GM (38)
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...
A few days ago we discovered an article which described building an old school 327, we immediately made a note to catch The Colonel since a few decades back he built a 327.
This morning The Colonel is with us, we are enjoying a cafe latte, lets start this conversation.
Q: Colonel you had a 327 how did it come about?
A: Was student on a very tight budget, I bought a used 327 that was apart for $50. (5 tanks of gas) brought it back in the trunk of a 1965 Chevy, yes the back end of the car was quite low.
Q: What was the origin of the engine?
A- It was a truck engine with a nodular iron crankshaft, forged pistons, reasonable heads, a 2 barrel carburetor intake manifold, distributor with no vacuum advance.
Q- What did you do to the engine?
A- Back in the day, it was standard practice to debur the block, check all the clearances, match the intake ports to the intake gasket, port the oil pump passage in the rear main bearing cap.
Q- Thats it?
A- Then embark on a mission to scrounge/locate other parts, you would put the word out, and see what response would come back, and at what price.
Q- Put the word out?
A- Precisely, put the word out that you need a "Duntov mechanical cam", a 4 barrel intake manifold, a 4 barrel carb, the idea was to save money.
Q- You got the parts you wanted?
A- The camshaft slightly used came from a friend of a friend it had done a few races in a stock car, the lifters were new, the intake manifold came from somewhere (don't remember), the carburator came from a salvage yard it was on an Oldsmobile (got the carb and air filter).
Q- New parts too?
A- Obvious, main and rod bearings, gaskets, roller timing chain, oil pump, that stuff was all new.
Q- How long did it take to put this engine together?
A- This was a winter project, it took the better part of a winter to debur the block, check clearances, increase the size of the intake ports in the heads, wait for parts, wait to have money...yes it took all winter.
Q- Sounds like a labour of love, and passion.
A- Precisely, one is young, you trade money for ingenuity, elbow grease, finding an extra job to make more money.
Q- The engine went in the 1963 Chevrolet Biscayne 2 door post.
A- Yes...in the 63 Chev, with the 3 speed Hurst floor shift, a 4 speed was "unobtanium" back in the day.
Q- The performance level increased?
A- What do you think? Adjust here, and there, correct a few mistakes, take the engine out again for a bigger oil pan, and yes it had a good level of performance with totally under performing brakes.
Q- Mechanical lifters, aggressive camshaft, how street able was it?
A- Reasonably street able, 327's with a Duntov cam were incredible when they got on the cam above 3,000 RPM, to slightly over 6,000 RPM. Over carbureted, big car, not much torque at low RPM, but keep that engine above 3,000 and it was a compelling experience back in the day.
Q- Over 6,000 RPM that must have been excessive for a budget built engine.
A- On good runs always shifted above 6,000 keep in mind that from 3,000 to 6,000 occured in the blink of an eye, the instant it got on the cam it was gone sort of thing.
Q- Fuel economy?
A- What is that...around 10 miles to a gallon back then, gas, some oil, spark plugs, adjust the valves, change points, no choke.
Q- No choke...how did it start in winter?
A- Simple, a fine balance of pumping the accelerator, and turning the engine over till it started, then I was the fast idle with the accelerator.
We need to continue...yes tomorrow
Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, make yourself comfortable we have cappuccino and biscotti join the conversation. The season starts with the Detroit Auto Show, or #NAIAS as its also known, if you have never been to Detroit for the press days, the excitement, buzz is palpable. A great overview of the Detroit Show by our friend The Autoextremist.
The long awaited 2014 Corvette finally broke cover last Sunday night, in case you missed it, how could you?
Here it is 2014 Corvette Stingray or simply scrool down to last Sunday. Yes design features are cool, spot on, others are a not as cool. Styling is personal preference!
This week we published our thoughts on Canadian Sales 2012. Yes it was a good year, yes we expected the Japanese (Honda & Toyota) to return with vigor. Yes we were impressed by the Hyundai/Kia juggernaut, and yes we were stunned by GM creating such a sustained vacuum for others to fill.
What used to be "white papers" are now "e-books" or we think they are called e-books. This week we published our first "e-book" of 2013 Money for the Deal, with hopefully more to follow.
We were not surprised that the cadillac ATS was nominated the "Car of the Year" at NAIS on Monday morning, as you know we experienced an ATS for a few days, its truly a world class car.
Yes...this week end is all the auction action in Arizona be it Phoenix, Scottsdale, and so on.
A fascinating photo gallery of old Corvettes for the 60th Anniversary.