While big horsepower numbers are always impressive, getting it to stick is much more difficult. Likewise, enhancing grip without ruining ride quality is even more challenging, especially when plans call for an extremely aggressive stance. The only logical solution to satisfying these contradicting design goals is building a new chassis from scratch, which is exactly what Ironworks Speed and Kustom (Bakersfield, California) did. The company offers turnkey frames for Chevelles, Tri-Fives, and '58-64 Impalas that boast revised suspension pickup points and optimized geometry. When matched with all-aluminum C6 Corvette front control arms and spindles, the result is vastly improved handling and a mean stance that doesn't sacrifice ride quality. In the rear is a custom Ironworks four-link that's fully adjustable to help put the power down. "Our frames are laser-cut from flat-plate steel and fully TIG-welded for strength. The frame has been designed to accommodate the lowest ride height possible with the optimum suspension geometry at that ride height," explains Roger Lee of Ironworks.
Cutting-edge chassis hardware aside, A-bodies are still heavy cars that require big patches of rubber to keep them planted to the pavement. Thanks to framerails that have been kicked inward, the Ironworks chassis swallows up fat meats with ease. At 295 mm, the Chevelle's front tires are wider than the rear tires on many Po Touring machines, and the car's 335mm-wide rear tires put down quite a large footprint as well. They wrap around Grip Equipped Laguna wheels measuring 19x10 up front and 20x12.5 out back. Stopping duties come courtesy of Wilwood 14-inch rotors clamped by six-piston calipers. Although disappointment was the original inspiration behind the Chevelle's Pro Touring transformation, Greg is now a very happy camper. "I wanted a car I could take a 500-mile road trip in and still be comfortable, and Ironworks has delivered just that. The Chevelle has a ton of power, it hooks up very well, and it idles nicely, too," Greg says.
Needless to say, it doesn't sound like Greg has any regrets over giving his car a full modern makeover. "If this car still had the original LS6 motor when I bought it, then I wouldn't have built it the way that I did. Since it didn't have the original engine anymore, I wanted to build a car that was actually enjoyable to drive," he explains. "Muscle cars were phenomenal for their day considering the technology that was available back in the '60s and '70s, however, we've come a long way since then. A 454 big-block only made 450 hp back then, but now we have small-blocks that make just as much power. As cool as muscle cars were for their time, they're even cooler when you combine them with today's technology."
Whether Greg's reasoning is enough to keep the lynch mob at bay remains to be seen. Purists are a passionate bunch, and many will insist that the proper course of action would have been building a 454 with a bunch of original date-coded parts for the sake of keeping Greg's SS 454 Chevelle as period-correct as possible. Nevertheless, it's hard to fault a hot rodder who put pragmatism ahead of sentimentality. Any purist who has a problem with that will have an awfully tough time keeping up with Greg's LSA-powered Chevelle in any muscle car built to period-correct specifications.
By The Numbers
1970 Chevelle SS
Greg Heinrich, 61 • Henderson, NV
Type: GM LSA small-block
Block: factory 4.065-inch bore aluminum
Oiling: stock pump and pan
Rotating assembly: GM 3.622-inch forged steel crank, powdered metal rods, and 9.1:1 hypereutectic pistons
Cylinder Heads: stock rectangle-port castings with 2.16/1.59-inch stainless steel valves
Camshaft: GM 198/216-at-.050 hydraulic roller with .492/.480-inch lift
Valvetrain: stock lifters, timing set, and 1.7:1 rocker arms
Induction: factory 1.9L Eaton TVS supercharger, intake manifold, and throttle body
Ignition: stock LSA
Exhaust: custom 2-inch long-tube headers, custom X-pipe, dual 2.5-inch MagnaFlow mufflers
Cooling: stock water pump, AutoRad radiator
Output: 556 hp at 6,100 rpm; 551 lb-ft at 3,800 rpm
Transmission: Tremec T56 Magnum six-speed manual, GM dual-disc clutch, Twist Machine shifter
Rear axle: GMR 9-inch rearend, 35-spline axles, 4.11:1 gears, and limited-slip differential
Front suspension: Ironworks C6 Corvette control arms, custom splined sway bar, RideTech coilovers
Rear suspension: Ironworks four-link and splined sway bar; RideTech coilovers
Brakes: Wilwood 14-inch rotors and six-piston calipers, front and rear
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: Grip Equipped Laguna 19x10, front; 20x12.5, rear
Tires: Michelin PS2 295/30R19, front; 335/30R20, rear