Greg Zyla: To clone or not to clone
Q: Greg, please give your opinion on cloning a car versus keeping it a numbers matching vehicle. I have a ’67 Chevelle two-door that has a 283 with a two-barrel carb and a powerglide transmission. I would like to do an engine upgrade to a new muscle car crate motor and put some SS badges on it, but some of my friends say it is worth more as a number-matching original. What do you think? Steve P., email from Massachusetts.
A: Steve, I would go ahead with the crate motor, as your’67 Chevelle 283 isn’t one of the top collector cars out there. If you put in a new GM Performance big- or small-block crate motor, and there are many to choose from, you will find that your car will instantly be worth way more than if you kept it 100-percent original.
Remember, too, that you’ll need a better transmission or rebuild to handle the new crate motor power. GM Performance has units available for your choosing, along with numerous aftermarket companies like ATI, Hughes, B&M, Coan, TCI and Transmission Specialties. The choice is yours.
If it were me and you want a big block, I’d look at a GM crate motor like the hydraulic lifter 454 ($5,600), or go all the way up to a 572 if money is no object. In the small-block category, you can start with a 350/330 horse three-quarter motor for $2,100, or move up to the LS line (LS1, LS6, LS3, LS7) with carb or fuel injection. Many muscle car rebuilders are choosing the LS line with either the 4L65E or new 4L80E automatic transmissions.
Your differential will also have to be addressed to handle the new horses. A good street/strip gear would be in the 3.73 range, or perhaps even a 3.55 ratio. If you replace the entire rear, Currie, Moser and Strange offer great products and I’d recommend either the 9-inch Ford style or the GM 12-bolt.
In summary, had your Chevelle come with the high-performance L79 code 327 with 325 horses, 12-bolt rear and four-speed tranny, I might tell you to look at keeping it original as they are rare. But the 283/327 two-barrel with a powerglide Chevelle will never bring any substantial bucks.
You have a great car to work with as your Chevelle is the desirable two-door. However, if the doors have a post and it’s not a hardtop, I’d opt not to put the SS badges on it and let the car live on its own merits.
Either way, you’ll have a Chevelle worth the investment and having fun with.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse Media and welcomes reader questions on classic cars, auto nostalgia or old-time motorsports at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.