Although the fat rear tires stand out the most, they're just one of a multitude of subtle visual tricks that reflect the painstaking measures taken to achieve the brilliant overall execution of this machine. From the rear profile, you won't see the clutter of a fuel system hanging down, and that's not just a convenient coincidence. Chris had Rock Valley build him a custom fuel tank with bungs positioned higher up than normal. This enabled tucking the pump and filter above the gas tank. Along with a custom panel he built into the trunk, Chris now has easy access to the fuel pump just in case anything goes wrong. "When you have a big pump and filter hanging underneath the car, I just think it looks like crap," he opines. The near-perfect stance, which tucks the tires just a smidgen inside the wheel openings, transpired as a combination of dumb luck and some adaptive engineering. "After a few years of racing and street driving, the Moroso drag springs I installed started sagging, and now they sit about 1.5 inches lower in the front than they're supposed to. This really messed up the front suspension geometry, so I built some custom extensions into the control arms to give them some more travel. I will soon be installing some new Detroit Speed & Engineering drop spindles, which are 1.5 inches taller, so hopefully that will take care of the issue."
With the lengths Chris has gone through to fine-tune every aspect of his Chevelle to his exacting standards, he's obviously spent more than a few hours working on it. He attributes his dedication to the nature of his day job and the Midwest car culture. Chris and his dad own a construction company, and says that their weekdays are quite stressful. "We have a shop with a couple of lifts on our facility, and we go over there on the weekends, have fun, and forget about all of the stuff we had to deal with during the week," he explains. "It's like therapy. Since we can't drive our cars when it's cold outside, we're forced to work on them indoors all winter, and that really helps keep us on schedule. We spend way too much money on these cars during the winter, so they have to be done by spring if we're going to get our money's worth out of them."
Considering the brief number of temperate months during the year Chris has at his disposal, the 3,000 miles he logs each summer is indicative of a muscle car that's driven quite often. As such, the Chevelle has all the earmarks of a true street machine. Chris refuses to put a rollbar in it, and the car still maintains power brakes thanks to an electric vacuum assist pump installed underhood. Not an ounce of weight has been removed, and future plans include upgrading the front brakes and installing a new DSE front suspension system in an effort to improve ride quality. "I've always wanted a car that's not only fast, but one that handles and stops well also," he says. "The ride is a little stiff right now, and I hope to tame that down with the new DSE components."
By now, we've established that there's much more to this Chevelle than fat rear rubber. It's fast, clean, well-sorted, damn good looking, and an original big-block four-speed car to boot. However, we still can't get the sight of that seductive rear end out of our silly heads. Maybe that's because whatever car we imagine we're driving in our fantasies, the only view we're going to catch of a bottom-10-second car is the rear end. And in this instance, that certainly isn't a bad thing.
How To Fit Monster Meats
Not only do the massive rear tires on Chris Borg's Chevelle look ultra aggressive, they maximize every last millimeter of real estate available in the wheelwells. Like most readers, we were very intrigued about how he pulled it off. Fortunately, Chris is willing to divulge what he learned for the rest of us to strive to emulate. Here's how he did it in his own words:
"At first, I didn't think I could fit tires this big in my Chevelle without mini-tubbing it, but I sure am glad that I gave it a try. It all started when one of my friends got a set of 295/65-15 Mickey Thompson ET Street radials for his car. I really liked the way they looked, so I asked him to give them to me after they were worn out. I put my car on the lift to test fit the tires, and much to my surprise, they fit in the wheelwells very nicely. I took a few measurements, and realized that they would fit just fine as long as I moved a few things around and got the wheel offset just right. I've always liked the look of the American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs, so I ordered up a set of 15x8-inch wheels on a custom 4 -inch backspacing. I decided to go with an 8-inch-wide wheel instead of a 10-inch-wide wheel for two reasons. First off, it allowed me to pull the tire in closer to the center of the car. Secondly, the smaller wheel narrowed the section width of the tire a bit. Pulling the tire in so far meant that I had to beat the snot out of the inner fenderwells with a two-pound sledge hammer. I then folded in any metal that was in or around the wheelwell to prevent it from catching on the tires.
"The final challenge was getting the tailpipes to clear the tires. To accomplish this, I had Rock Valley custom modify my gas tank by cutting off the front corners of the tank and re-angling them inward. Next, I cut up the exhaust system and shoved the mufflers up as high in the car as I could. I then used some 180-degree U-bends to reposition the tailpipes inward, farther away from the tires and closer to the gas tank. After all that, the tires fit perfectly and don't rub at all even if I take a corner very hard. I've never cut a tire on the street or at the track. After all the mods, I sprayed the wheelwells with some fresh undercoating. Now, if the tires rub for any reason, I'll know exactly where and clearance it accordingly. There's really nothing special about the work required to get these tires to fit. It just takes time and patience. I wish I could fit 315s underneath there!"-Chris Borg
While doing a burnout at the...
While doing a burnout at the track one day, the front snout of the water pump broke, bounced off the fan, and poked a hole through the original steel hood. Chris used this as an excuse to swap in a tall single-plane intake, and a Glasstek cowl-induction hood.
The Brodix single-plane intake...
The Brodix single-plane intake manifold was cut in half by Self Racing, ported, then welded back together. It was originally designed for a Dominator carb, but Self welded on a 4150-series adapter pad. The attractive accessory drive setup is from March.
The only rust that needed...
The only rust that needed repair on the entire car was located below the rear windshield. On this car, the "SS396" badges denote the real thing, not a clone.
By relocating the bungs, Chris...
By relocating the bungs, Chris was able to move the fuel pump and filter above the gas tank. Not only does this de-clutter the area around the tank, it makes for easy access to the pump from the trunk. When the fuel pump seized up during a long weekend cruise, it allowed Chris to rebuild it on the side of the road and get rolling again within an hour.
Despite the big cam, the CPP...
Despite the big cam, the CPP master cylinder gets power assist from a SSBC electric vacuum pump. Chris plans on installing a Hydroboost system next winter.