You can't really say that the rest of this Chevelle's posterior proportions are anything out of the ordinary, but hot damn, check out those rear meats. They're 295/65-15 Mickey Thompsons, to be exact, or 30x12.5x15 for those who are metrically challenged. Unlike the big-buttocks fetish, which only infects a small percentage of the misguided male population, just about every hot rodder digs copious rear tread width. And Chris Borg's big-block beast makes the most of it, too, running 10.24 at 128 mph at the track. Dig a little deeper, and the persistence and attention to detail necessary to stuff those epic rollers back there surface throughout the entire car. So clean, so simple, so functional, so fast, and oh so pretty, it's the quintessential street machine. For anyone who's ever wanted to build a Chevelle, the car that stars in your fantasies probably looks a lot like this one.
Having owned both a '70 Cutlass and a '72 GS in the past, Chris has always been big into A-bodies. Looking for a productive way to stay amused during long Illinois winters, he picked up a '69 Chevelle in 1992. Not a big fan of performing tedious bodywork, his plan called for spending more up front for a solid foundation. He found exactly what he was looking for at, of all places, a local car museum. "The body and interior as you see them today are exactly like they were when I first bought the car 17 years ago," he says. "It still had the original 396 big-block and four-speed in it with only 60,000 miles on the clock. The more I dug into the car, the cleaner I realized it was. It sounds crazy now, but the $12,000 I paid for it was actually a lot of money back then."
Without any monotonous metalwork to deal with, Chris jumped right into the good stuff. He pulled the 396 and four-speed in favor of a mild 468 and a Richmond five-speed. Although Chris ripped the yoke off of the rearend on his very first run at the dragstrip, he eventually sorted out the combo and got it running in the high 11s. As is often the case, his drag racing buddies proved to be a bad influence. He bought a 502 from a friend, and took his Chevelle to the next level. The combination is essentially a GMPP 502 crate motor that has been bored 0.030-over and fitted with Eagle steel rods and 11.0:1 SRP pistons. The bottom end is topped with GM oval-port aluminum cylinder heads that have been heavily ported by Self Racing (www.selfracing.com), along with a Brodix single-plane intake manifold. Valve actuation is handled by a Comp 251/257-at-.050 solid roller cam that bumps Jesel shaft-mount rockers. An exact hp figure is not known, but weighing in at 3,755 pounds and running 128 mph in the quarter, it's safe to presume that the Chevelle packs a rather stout package.
Big power is just part of the drag formula, however, and Chris's knowledgeable pack of quarter-mile junkies helped reinforce the point. The first order of business in sorting out the driveline and suspension was ditching the stick. "Richmond five-speeds don't like speed-shifting very much, and manuals in general are just very hard on the driveline, so I switched over to a TH400 auto with a Gear Vendors overdrive," he explains. Moreover, working on the pit crew of his buddy John Cunningham--who campaigned an NHRA Comp Eliminator car--helped Chris understand the basics of suspension setup. "People think a drag car is supposed to squat off the line, but it's not. You want the tires and suspension to separate from the rest of the car, which drives the tires into the ground and gives you more bite."
To attain impressive 1.42-second 60-foot times, Chris makes the most of the factory four-link design. "On my 9-inch rearend, there are five adjustment holes on the ears where the upper control arms attach," he explains. "Along with the adjustable upper control arms, this allows me to set the preload exactly how I want, and tune the suspension almost like an aftermarket four-link. I made a Heim joint for the control arms on the axle side to reduce slop, and Del-a-lum-style bushings on the frame side. The car also has drag springs and double-adjustable shocks all around, which makes dialing in the suspension much easier." Of course, any mention of traction regarding this Chevelle isn't complete without giving due props to those monster rear meats. Surprisingly, although it took plenty of beating and banging with a hammer, they fit without the need of any cutting or welding. Chris says it was mostly just a matter of taking lots of measurements and sorting out the right wheel offset.