As Jim dragged the two-door home and began a more thorough inspection, he hoped the seller was better in construction than in car building. The newbie appeared to make all the mistakes a 16-year-old would make. “It had so many accessories from the electric fuel pump and the fan and all that, that it overloaded the ignition circuit. The guy who I got it from really didn’t know what he was doing so you had to literally start the car by crossing a screwdriver on the starter terminal.” Coupled with a tank of bad gas, it wasn’t exactly the best runner when Jim bought the project. By the next afternoon though, he had replaced the burnt-out ignition switch, swapped out the bad gas and faulty transbrake switch, and threw in some new spark bolts, and it was on the road again.

Jim isn’t one of those guys who sits around on his thumbs all weekend, so by week two, he had put all of the accessories on relays as they should be and properly reconnected the factory wiring harness. Unfortunately the car drove with all the sportiness and reliability of a WWI tank. It was time to drop this thing to DEFCON 1 and work on the engine.

A small-block with old-school ported fuelie heads had all the right internals but it just wouldn’t get out of its own way. The Weiand 177 huffer was doing its job, but it was never designed to run with a stock vacuum secondary carb. A call to the Carb Shop supplied Jim with one of their Stage 4 840-cfm blower carbs. The Holley double-pumper released the power within but that came with the side effect of generating more heat than being on the wrong side of a napalm barbecue. Being a wheeler-dealer, Jim traded the old Convo-Pros that came on the car for a new aluminum radiator, slapped on an electric water pump, and while scrounging the local Volvo dealership’s dumpster, he came up with an incredible power electric fan from an ’05 Volvo S80. The engine was now hot and cool at the same time.

Mechanically sound, he felt it was the perfect time to test the mettle of the car, mano a mano, at the dragstrip. He borrowed a set of slicks, adjusted the tire pressure, ran through his burnout procedure, and with the two-step now fully functional, ripped off a killer 11.70 at 114 mph! He felt the tide of the war turning in his favor. Now it was time to move onto the more aesthetic side of the build.

As Jim progressed in his budget build, he took his skills toward dressing up the engine compartment. He found it was tough finding someone who could do a decent job of cleaning up and restoring (or resto-modding) an engine bay for a reasonable price, so he took to doing it as a side job. “It’s a neat little niche that, so far, I haven’t found anybody who just does engine compartments,” he says. “It gives me a little competitive edge, and I’m sure somebody will copy me but that’s OK.” He gave his engine bay what he calls his “driver” package with cleaned up but functional details.

As one of the least common styles, the 300 has become a rarity but one with a definite fan base. One might think that just due to the fact that it is a ’64 Chevelle, parts would be a cinch to pick up. Not so much. There were only a quarter as many 300s made as other models, and they have small unique traits such as distinctive badging, taillights, headlight bezels, door trim, and enough subtle interior differences to make restoration a real pain. Jim’s ’64 interior was in decent enough shape that on the surface he could skate by. It did look a bit like something out of an ’80s ZZ Top video with tweed seats, and a third-eye brake light, so he scrounged up a pair of tan leather seats, once again from his vast network, and gave it a mild freshening up.