1970 Chevrolet Chevelle - Dream Machine Photo Gallery
With 500 hp and 35 mpg, this Chevelle Is Much More than Just a Classic
Jason Sands –
Apr 27, 2015
Photo 1/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Passenger Side Front View
Photo 2/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Duramax Engine | The 6.6L Duramax engine fits in the Chevelle’s engine bay like it belongs there. Fortunately for Rick, it doesn’t get 11 mpg like an original big-block Chevrolet engine. Instead, the diesel puts 490 hp at the rear wheels, while achieving 32 mpg combined (city/highway driving).
Photo 3/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Steering Shaft | There are quite a few spots where the engine fits pretty tightly. At first glance, the Duramax is so close to the steering setup that it looks like it’s hitting the shaft. Some careful grinding of the driver-side exhaust manifold created just enough clearance for Rick to make it work without relocating the steering box.
Photo 4/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Oil Pan | One really difficult part of the swap was getting the oil pan to clear the chassis. The Duramax engine’s pan has a two-piece design, and both the upper and lower sections needed to be modified. Joe’s Custom Metal Works took a total of 6 inches out of the pan’s depth, giving Rick the clearance he wanted.
Photo 5/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Wiring Harness | Rick says the hardest part of the swap was completing the wiring that was necessary for getting the Duramax to run. An ECU, an FICM, and a number of sensors from Rick’s ‘04 donor truck were tied into the Chevelle’s electrical circuitry, and after a couple of months, the engine ran like a champ. Rick states that if he had to do it all over again, he’d probably be much faster the second time around.
Photo 6/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Custom Intake Tubing | We’re surprised at how large the intake tubing is, and that the filter is also mounted below the car in a homemade, cold-air arrangement. When asked where he bought the cool blue and black silicone boots, Rick says he “honestly doesn’t remember,” because it was so long ago.
Photo 7/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Garrett Turbocharger | The factory Garrett turbocharger has been reliable over tens of thousands of miles, while still providing enough air to push the car to achieve 11-second time slips. With the current tune, Rick says he sees about 28 to 32 psi of boost when his foot is planted on the floor.
Photo 8/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Radiator Hoses And Intercooler Piping | With space at a premium under the engine, both the radiator hoses and intercooler piping (which were fabricated by Galt Machine & Welding) snake in front of the engine and behind the front bumper. They hang just low enough for onlookers to notice and start wondering.
Photo 9/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle External Cooler | With the tight torque converter and torquey diesel engine, a lot of heat is generated. To keep the transmission alive, an external cooler with its own small fan was mounted in front of the radiator and behind the grille.
Photo 10/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Downpipe | A factory-sized downpipe (from MBRP) was used to send exhaust gases rearward, and it clears the firewall without any issue. Underneath the car, the exhaust splits into two 3-inch pipes, which exit back behind the rear axle.
Photo 11/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Lokar Dipstick | Another neat swap trick involved this flexible Lokar dipstick, which weaves its way around the engine and even locks to prevent transmission-fluid mishaps.
Photo 12/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Interior | While the interior looks mostly stock, it does hide a few tricks. For example, the factory column shifter has been modified into a reverse pattern, and a Third gear lockout is in place to prevent accidentally over-shifting.
Photo 13/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Gauges | There are three gauges hidden under the cowl, which were used to monitor total boost, interstage boost, and drive pressure when the Chevelle had triple turbos on it (see sidebar on page 86). The only one that’s hooked up now is the “blower”gauge, which monitors boost.
Photo 14/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Duramax Emblems | If you’re wondering where Rick got these cool Duramax emblems, the answer is simple: eBay. “You can find anything on there,” he says.
Photo 15/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Passenger Side View | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle - Dream Machine
Photo 16/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Summit Racing Aluminum Radiator | Notice anything odd about the front of the engine? Yep, there’s no fan! Rick reports that with the help of an aluminum radiator from Summit Racing, the diesel engine runs so cool he can drive the car around without a fan, even in the summer.
Photo 17/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Headlights | We asked Rick what his secret is for keeping the car’s chrome looking so good, and he says they’re just the factory pieces, and they’ve never been re-chromed. Not too bad for a 45-year-old car!
Photo 18/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Godspeed Intercooler | A small Godspeed intercooler was mounted in front of the radiator and helps keep intake temperatures down. With the mellow boost pressures the stock engine runs, there’s virtually no chance of the ’cooler splitting or having other reliability issues, even though it was designed for a gas application.
Photo 19/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Unlimited Performance Products Cowl Hood | An Unlimited Performance Products 3.5-inch cowl hood helps clear the turbo and intake system. After quite a bit of massaging, the entire car was sprayed Titanium Silver Metallic by A&A All Pro Auto Repair in Los Baños, California.
Photo 20/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Modified Fuel Tank | The Chevelle retains its original fuel tank, which was modified with a sump before it received its first diesel fill-up. Rick ran the lines himself, and a simple Holley 110-gph Blue fuel pump is used as a lift pump.
Photo 21/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle American Racing Torq Thrust Ii Wheels | Rick went with a traditional classic look for his Chevelle. Rather than huge oversize wheels and tires, 15-inch American Racing Torq Thrust IIs (right) give the car a timeless appearance. For track duty, Rick has another set of Torq Thrusts, with 29.5x10.5-15 Mickey Thompson slicks on them. For the street, 255/70R15 Falken S/TZ-04s are good mostly for smoky burnouts and applying rubber to the rear quarter panels.
Photo 22/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Kill Switch | Diesels need a lot of cranking amperage to start, and underhood space was getting kind of tight. So Rick mounted two 800 cold-cranking-amps batteries in the trunk, complete with a kill switch in case he ever gets in trouble at the track.
Photo 23/23 | 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Rollcage | Since the Chevelle runs deep 11s, this trick rollcage was built by Joe’s Custom Metal Works to allow backseat access, yet its still certified as being legal for running 8.50 seconds in the quarter-mile.