Detroit Muscle Featured Projects

Detroit Muscle Builds

Parts Used In This Episode

Summit Racing
Summit Racing Exhaust Headers
Summit Racing
SUmmit Racing Dieletric Grease

Episode Transcript

(Tommy)>> You're watching Powernation!

(Joel)>> Today on Detroit Muscle we take a slight detour in an iconic '64 and show you a few fast fixes that you can knock out this weekend. [ Music ] [ engines revving ] [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> We have a new project in the shop and she's quite a peach. Whenever it comes to these old rides we all want the good stuff. Stunning good looks, that cool feeling you get sitting behind the wheel, and all the performance you can get.

(Joel)>> With the classics they can have a look and personality all their own. That's not always a good thing. What we have up our sleeve for this one is to address some of its character flaws as well as improve on the charm using some upgrades that won't break the bank and you can do over the weekend.

(Tommy)>> But first let's tell you about what we're working with. It's a 1964 Chevy Malibu. The first model of one of the most popular muscle cars GM ever built. Some might call it a 20-footer, but we think it's nicer than that. Up under the hood is not a powerhouse. It's a lot more like Mighty Mouse. This 283 coupled with its overdrive trans allows you to glide down the highway as smooth as butter. A little bit of paint, a couple of pieces of engine jewelry, and some modern technology would make this looker have beauty far more than skin deep.

(Joel)>> Walking around this ride up close you can see that it's showing some of its age. With a few choice pieces of bright work we could roll back the clock and give this bowtie a nice facelift. Once we get this beauty up on the lift, we've got a simple break and suspension upgrade that's gonna give you a great return on your investment of time and money spent. But first we're gonna address some of the bright work right here in the front. Now we called up the folks over at OPGI and they sent us a brand new grille kit that came complete with a top molding, center piece, headlight bezels, fender eyebrows, hood molding, those iconic Chevrolet letter emblems, the works. This may seem like a not so significant aesthetic upgrade but once we get the new pieces on I think you guys are gonna notice one heck of a difference. [ Music ] Upgrading the grille is possibly the easiest way to increase the curb appeal on this Chevy. [ Music ] Shiny new chrome always gets the onlookers to dip their glasses and wolf whistle at your whip. Now during disassembly you guys want to pay attention to how this stuff comes apart. For example, our fender eyebrow comes down and lays on top of our bottom valence molding. So, when you go to put the new pieces on if you don't do it in the correct order that bottom valence is not gonna sit right and then you're just gonna have to start all over. So take some pictures, take some mental knots, whatever you've got to do to save yourself that headache. [ Music ]

[ ratchet clicking ] [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Perfect! Also included in our kit are these little spring loaded clips that some of you may be familiar with. Now what you may not know though is there is a right way and a wrong way to install these. What you want to do is take a trim piece and set your clip in there so it's nice and flush, and then rotate the spring until it locks in just like that. Then take a set of needle nose pliers and just gently pull that spring over and lock it in. What you don't want to do though is overload that spring and let it kick back and snap back onto your piece because you can actually dent the bottom side of your chrome. Also, you can use a set of smooth jaw pliers to move your clip anywhere you need it to. The main focus is to keep your fingers away from the sharp edges. [ Music ] One thing I noticed about these pieces was how close the fitment was to the originals. [ Music ] Everything slid in pretty easy, and the new hardware was a welcome replacement to the old set that had seen way better days. [ Music ] Now from our initial inspection it almost seemed like these parts almost didn't even need swapped out, but if you look at the side by side comparison there is a significant difference. So, if you're in need of some restoration components for your project give the folks over at Original Parts Group a call and they'll hook you up.

(Tommy)>> Coming up, it's time for a little shake, rattle, and roll.

(Tommy)>> You know when it comes to these old cars there's one thing or two things that everybody wants, modern conveniences and performance. We have several upgrades that we're wanting to accomplish, and a few of them are as basic as they come. An intake, set of valve covers, and some headers will more than likely wake up this little 283. We know that this stuff isn't gonna get us some crazy number of horsepower at the rear wheel, but it will technically do a couple of things. One, give us some more pep, and improve the appearance, and we're not just stopping there.

(Joel)>> The popularity of swapping out an old school carburetor for modern fuel injection has grown exponentially over the past few years. When you consider the benefits of better fuel economy, more horsepower, and maintaining that classic o-g look I can kinda see why. With these fast and easy upgrades we'll transform this Chevelle from a grocery getter to a tire shredder. [ Music ] [ ratchet clicking ]

(Tommy)>> This choke cable is gonna be a pain in the butt to get off here, but got it! Finesse it! You ever met old Finessa? [ Music ] I swear I've done this before. [ Music ] Pretty clean! Those old valve covers would be pretty cool to hang up on the wall. [ saw buzzing ]

(Joel)>> First step on our engine dress up was a quick rattle can overhaul. These engine enamels can generate a lot of overspray. So mask off as much as you can. We debated on a few colors, but in the end decided if orange is good enough for Chevy it's good enough for us.

(Tommy)>> With that non-Hemi orange paint dry the first piece of jewelry we're gonna bolting on is this aluminum intake that we found at Summit Racing. Now this is the dual plane design. It has increased runner size for better flow, which equals more power. Now to do this modification is pretty much straightforward, and it's extremely popular for a couple of reasons. It's lighter, looks good, and easy on your wallet. [ Music ] We got the bolts on our intake ran down hand tight and it's time to move on to the next step, securing it properly. Now with this there's a sequence you need to follow. Basically in a circular pattern you start from the inside and work out toward the ends of the intake.

(Joel)>> Another thing you're gonna need to know is the torque specs of the hardware that you're working with, and based on the manufacturer or material those numbers could vary. Luckily all that information and more is included in the manual that came with our Summit Intake.

(Tommy)>> Give you this bolt and you can start it. [ Music ] [ drill humming ] [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> Can't feel my knuckles. [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Now you guys have seen us use ARP in the past, and there's multiple reasons why. For one, when it comes to performance these things can handle a whole lot of abuse. And for two, when it comes to aesthetics, they can really brighten up an engine bay. This old Chevy small block isn't going to be pushing 1,000 horsepower any time soon... [ Music ] ...but using these solid steel bolts leaves that door open if you want to go that route.

(Tommy)>> When it comes to the meat and potatoes of this underhood rejuvenation I would have to say it's gonna be the fuel injection unit. You've seen us use Holley Sniper in the past, and that's what we're gonna be running on this car. This is their Quadrajet, or spread bore, design. You can tell that by the two smaller holes here in the front and the two much larger holes here in the rear. This setup performs really well with those smaller cubic inch engines and the drivability is spectacular. It will support up to 500 horsepower. Another cool feature that this design offers, that is it replicates the iconic Quadrajet roar. And for those of you who are in the know that know what I'm talking, that's pretty cool. When it comes to fuel injection conversions people are extremely intimidated by the electronic side of things. This unit really only has a handful of connections that have to be made for it to operate. Looks so much better! So, with things being that simple that makes installation relatively a breeze. Another added cool thing about this unit is it's the spread bore design. So, if you have a factory Quadrajet engine running that factory intake you don't have to buy an aftermarket unit or try to run some of those big, thick spacers. That usually leads to hood clearance problems. This setup is a direct bolt-on. Can't wait to see what this thing sounds like on that little engine.

(Joel)>> Up next, we pop the hood and spark up a converation about better air flow.

(Joel)>> Hey guys, we're still turning some wrenches on our '64 Chevelle project. We've already done a few cool upgrades by adding in a new intake, some fuel injection, and all that stuff, which is gonna optimize air flow going in. Now it's time to address the air flow going out. Now these are the stock exhaust manifolds that we pulled off of our old 283. The boys at GM engineered these things to last a long time and to be serviceable, but we've come a long way since 1964. With exhaust manifolds you have a lot of restriction. Basically, you've got all this pressure trying to go through this elongated port, and then it intersects into these two Y-sections, eventually all this back pressure bottles up resulting in a loss of power. And with headers you have almost a completely different blueprint all together. Basically, they're designed to have smooth optimal air flow coming off the combustion chamber all the way out to a larger size collector, giving you more horsepower when you stand on the throttle. Some of you may have heard this old saying. "She's got a bad doughnut gasket". That is referring to a real component. All it is is a round, flared metal piece that sits between your exhaust manifold and your exhaust pipe, and this little contraption is what is known as a heat riser. Its sole purpose in life is to seal off exhaust vapors into the combustion chamber to heat the engine up faster. The issue with these is over time eventually they'll rust out, and then they're sealed shut for good, and that's gonna limit your car's ability to breathe. There are multiple benefits to bolting on a good set of headers, like these we found at Summit Racing. Not only are they gonna reignite some life back into that old small block, it's gonna look pretty sharp when we pop that hood as well. [ Music ] It's not that these are difficult to put in. It's just more awkward than anything. Trying to get your hand placement in the perfect position, getting the header in position. Multiple things gotta come into place at the same time. Got our Summit headers set in with a couple of hand tight bolts. Go ahead and lower the car and cinch them the rest of the way up.

(Tommy)>> Well we got the headers installed, and Joel's gonna be slapping in some plugs, and I'm gonna get busy making our plug wires. We snagged a universal set from Summit Racing along with their dielectric grease, and I've got a tip I'm wanting to show you a little later on. Now these come in multiple lengths, and you need to make sure that you choose the right one for the cylinder you're trying to connect it to. To get your exact measurement, or the length, you've got to take a field trip over to the car. Now with the thought process on here there's a couple of different routes you can take. One is function over form. The other one is a combination of the two. What I like to do is actually try to make them look like something and hide them at the same time. To have the ability to tuck these in and out of the way really can improve the looks of an engine bay. Another thing that you need to consider is where you're gonna put your little end you're crimping on too. If you clock that thing backwards what that'll cause that wire to do is twist up and knot up on you. Making a little mark on that plug wire can sure make these things lay out a lot smoother. Now we need to shorten this thing up, strip off the insulation, and not damage the conductive core. Now there's a couple of ways you can strip this back. One is with a razor blade. That's a little bit more scary, or you can use a set of strippers. [ stripper tool clicking ]

(Tommy)>> What you're wanting to see is that little black conductive wire sandwich between your insulator and your crimp on end. What you're trying to see is those little upside down ends, if you will, and curl that connector. That looks really nice. Now I mentioned to you guys the dielectric grease. This stuff works really well for cutting down on corrosion and keeping moisture out of your contacts, but it helps tremendously when installing these little boots. A lot of people take and dab this electric grease here on the side that goes onto your plug wire, and then some cram it in here. My tip for you is where to put the grease. A common place for everyone is to put some into the hole where the spark plug plugs in at, and then they'll come in and squirt some inside of there where the wires push through. What I tell people to do is put it on the side of the wire, and then over the opening right outside of there. If you'll notice whenever you go to insert that wire that that grease will be pulled in through it slicking everything up. That's one down and I've got eight more to go. No, it's not a nine cylinder. There's a coil wire in there. Coming up, think you can handle these upgrades?

(Joel)>> With several performance upgrades already addressed underneath the hood of our Chevelle project it's now time to focus our attention towards the braking and handling. One of the easiest upgrades you could do to your brakes is simply swapping out your pads for a new set like the ones we got from the guys at EBC. [ drill humming ] [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Now some of you historians are probably aware that you couldn't get disc brakes on a Chevelle in '64. What we were able to figure out is that this is an aftermarket setup that someone has put on here at one time, probably for a '69 to '72 Chevelle with a slightly modified '64 spindle. So we sent all that information over to the guys at EBC and they sent us over the right components to get this job done. [ Music ] [ aerosol can hissing ] [ compressed air hissing ]

(Joel)>> Now at this point you could go ahead and swap out your rotors for a new set or take them to your local auto parts store and get them turned, but it's not necessarily required. The guys at EBC have actually designed their pads to give you the option of installing them on used rotors. And when we were last driving this thing it didn't have any weird vibrations or sounds coming from the rotors. So we don't have any reason to think that there's trouble ahead. So we'll be get these put on and call it a win. [ Music ] EBC brake pads have a wide spread of applications ranging from ultra high performance race cars, to toy haulers, to Saturday cruisers, and this is a super easy upgrade that won't break the bank.

(Tommy)>> When we drove our Chevelle in off the street we noticed that it had a few issues and we're working through them. One of them would be the steering wasn't 100 percent, and that's usually one of two problems. Either alignment or worn components, and after some diagnostic work we realized we need several parts. We ordered a Duralast center link, inner and outer tie rods, idler arm, and adjustor sleeves from the Autozone Pro website. These parts are considered wear items and need to be inspected. So if your tires are wearing funny or possibly the car's driving a little odd, you might want to check them out. You want to take a look at all of the joints where parts intersect right here at the end of the tie rods. Now what you're looking for is to see if there's any kind of movement inside of there, like slop if you will. You can also take that and push up and pull back just to see if any kind of movement happens. If not just move on to the next one. On our idler arm it has a combination of two styles of joints. The one that connects to the center link is a ball socket, where the one that has a bracket that connects to the frame only has rotational movement to it. If you rotate the spindle you can see how this joint is bad. If you notice that up and down movement that's not what you want. If you have that type of up and down movement over here on your pitman arm make sure that nut is tight or the gearbox needs to be replaced. To check these other joints what I like to do is put my thumb on top of it and wiggle back and forth. If you feel that one is moving in the opposite direction that means they have excessive wear. If they feel like they're moving in unison they're good to go. [ Music ]

You ain't lived until you're fishing a socket or a bolt out of the frame rail. [ Music ] [ ratchet clicking ]

(Tommy)>> Now I just need to finish up putting in all these cotter pins for safety of course, and then I can get the car on the ground with the wheels on the front and I can use a tape measure to set the toe. [ Music ]

Well, I have to say we've added quite a few refinements to this old Chevrolet.

(Joel)>> And it all started with a brand new face lift right here in the front.

(Tommy)>> What's great about these upgrades is they only take a couple of hours to maybe a weekend to accomplish, and they all add style, performance, and reliability.

(Joel)>> For me personally I've been looking forward to hearing that iconic Q-jet sound. What do you say we hop in this thing, go for a test ride, enjoy the last of our weekend?
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