A Project Car with a real budget

We will put a 10-second car on the strip for under $12,500.00
(At the very least we will give it a heck of a try).

By Jok Nicholson

e are on the track (finally!) and checking things out...

We have had a lot of e-mails about the "Back-2-Basics" project car and most of them ask how it is running and how did we do on the budget. I think I can get those questions answered and provide a little insight on the things we did right and the things that need to be fixed over the winter.

First I will go over the expenses. We were shooting for a total expense of $12,500.00 and were right on target until we made a few decisions that would increase durability and save us money in the long run. I think that is something everyone has to consider when building a car from scratch. I had zero small block Chevy parts and almost nothing sitting around the shop we could use on the Vega.

I think the best way to go over the budget is to list the main components and explain why we chose them. My suggestion here is do your homework and make a lot of lists so you have a good overview of what you need.

Fittings and Hoses: Fuel lines, trans cooler lines and all the AN fittings. We chose Aeroquip Push-Loc hose and a mix of aluminum and steel fittings. Cost: $265.00.

Fuel system: Race Demon alcohol carburetor, BG mechanical bypass, BG fuel filter. This is one of decisions that cost more than our first budget. We thought about getting a carb at a swap meet or buy a used one. Then I thought, "why is it for sale if it works good?". We bolted on the new Race Demon 750 and it has performed perfectly since the first time it was fired. The mechanical by-pass is pretty cool too. It hooks to the carb linkage and all you do is adjust it so the valve is open at idle and closes when the throttle is opened. That way the pressure is about 5 lbs at idle and 11 lbs at the finish line, perfect. And the fuel pump bolts on like a stock pump and only cost $99.00. Cost: $975.00.

Transmission / Converter: We got everything from J-W Performance and then I had good friend and transmission guru Steve Oldani assemble everything. The feature on this transmission was featured a few months ago. We got an 8" converter (about 5600 stall
with this motor), Ultra-Bell, BTE deep aluminum pan, trans-shield from BTE, J-W overhaul it, J-W hardened low gear set, dual ring servo and J-W Pro- trans-brake. Total parts cost: $1410.00.

Rear End and Drive shaft: Since a cheap drive shaft could break and destroy a lot of other parts, I stepped here and had Strange Engineering build me one of their mild steel drive shafts with 1350 U-Joints. I also got the Strange yokes for the Dana and the power glide. The Dana 60 came with a good spool and 35 spline Strange axles, all I added was a new (swap meet) 5.38 gear. This was my biggest mistake. It is the wrong gear and has really messed up my initial test runs as the car floats the valves before the finish line; more on this later. Basically, I did NOT do my homework when I bought that gear ratio. Cost: $415.00.

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