Best of BS 2017: We Wake Up The Big Block Chevy In A 1971 C10 With A Plethora Of Off The Shelf Parts

Best of BS 2017: We Wake Up The Big Block Chevy In A 1971 C10 With A Plethora Of Off The Shelf Parts

(By Kaleb Kelley) –  As we’re building our 1971 C10 for the Win A Classic Sweepstakes, I had to figure out what to do to freshen up the old motor. First off, it’s a NAPA 454 Big Block replacement motor, so no hoss in the performance department how it was. It had an old factory-style intake with a quadrajet and ran like a stock small-block. We put it on a chassis dyno and it only made 230 horsepower and 320 lb-ft to the tire. It was a little more than we expected, but it wasn’t enough for us.

The first step was to call our friends at COMP Cams to figure out what kind of camshaft would wake this beast up. From their recommendations, we went with their Xtreme Energy Hydraulic Roller Camshaft #11-423-8 with .510/.520 lift and 230/236 duration @.050.  Since we wanted to do a roller cam, a set of Pro Magnum rull roller trunnion rockers was necessary.

The nice thing about the COMP kit is what it includes. Not only do you get a camshaft, but you get lifters, timing set, springs, retainers, locks, seals, push rods and cam button. It’s pretty much everything you need to put a new camshaft and valvetrain in your car. Here’s a quick breakdown of the installation.

Step 1. Remove the factory keepers with a magnet while compressing the springs.

Step 2. Remove the old springs and umbrella oil seals.

Step 3. Remove the rotator with a magnet.  No need to replace since the new springs are longer.

Step 4. Install new umbrella oil seals.

Step 5. Install the new valve springs and retainers.

Step 6. Install new keepers carefully while compressing the springs.

Step 7. Lubricate the camshaft and install into motor carefully.

Step 8. Install the new timing chain, cam button and cam bolt locking plate.

Step 9. Install new 3/8 pushrods, lifters, guide plates and roller rockers.

Now that the valve train has been refreshed and our motor has a roller camshaft and roller rockers, it’s time to assemble it and focus on the next step, getting the air and fuel down the motors throat. For this, we ordered a Weiand Stealth dual-plane 4-barrel intake. I’m a big fan of these intakes because of their nostalgic look. They’re made I the U.S. and look like a proper sand cast intake. I’ve had good luck with their intakes on small-block Mopars, so we stuck with what we knew.

To top off the modern performance and nostalgic look, I called Holley and ordered their brand-new Terminator Stealth EFI system. The Terminator Stealth is essentially the same Terminator EFI many have come to love, but with covers to resemble a traditional Holley double-pumper. They offer a classic gold finish which looks identical to the classic Dichromate finish. This is an awesome option if you’re trying to keep your car looking like it’s supposed to, but give it fuel-injected performance.

The install was incredibly easy. Simple as following the wiring harnesses instructions, mounting the ECU under the dash, and bolting the throttle body on. The included handheld display puts you throw the startup wizard and you enter the parameters of your engine to get a base tuning map set.

After this, you perform a TPS autoset by following the instructions in the book, and BAM, she fired. Now you have to go out and drive the car so it will learn how it needs to behave in different situations under varying loads, etc. It’s an incredibly easy process and does not need any laptop tuning. Just drive it and the ECU learns and adjusts for it.

One of the things we wanted to upgrade on this engine was the FEAD. Multiple companies make aftermarket brackets and components to convert it to a modern serpentine belt system, but many of them are extremely flashy and lean on the side of form instead of function. Vintage Air, Inc. recently released their new FrontRunner system for small-block Chevy’s, big-block Chevys, Fords Windsor engine family, and LS engines. Their FrontRunner system balances function and form in a tight, effective layout of all your accessory drives. Their kit even includes a new power steering pump, aluminum water pump, Sanden compressor and a 170-amp Mechman alternator.


Since this was just a factory-replacement engine, we had factory exhaust manifolds on it. That wasn’t going to cut it for the kind of truck we were building. Hooker offers a Titanium Ceramic Coated option for their big block long tube headers that we think looks killer. While not actual titanium, it gives it a dull, but consistent finish that makes you look twice. These headers should be good for a nice chunk of power considering how much better they’ll flow than the old manifolds.

One of the final pieces of the puzzle was an ignition system upgrade. We went with MSD’s Ready-to-Run distributor, plug wires and Blaster 2 coil. Normally, we’d use a 6AL box, but one of our main goals was to have a clean, clutter-free engine bay. MSD’s Multiple Spark Discharge ignition system helps increase your cars drivability, especially when cold, and make sure you’re efficiently using power. It’s simply a good upgrade to make to your old car if you plan on driving it a lot or possibly making a stab at the Hot Rod Power Tour.

Lastly, now that we’ve hopped this big block up, we needed to make sure to have a proper cooling system. Holley recently released their Frostbite Aluminum Radiators made to fit in various classic vehicles. We ordered the 4-row unit for a C10 with the optional dual-fan setup and a metal shroud. As I was writing this, the fans and shroud showed up. In these photos, we have a single fan and no shroud, but we’re installing that this week before the Sweepstakes ends.

The next step to any engine refresh is to make it look good. The centerpiece of this motor is undoubtedly the awesome Comp Cams #281 valve covers. Valve covers can make or break an engine bay and this set really makes everything pop. Since we already had the vintage theme going on, we tried out Holley’s new Vintage Series air cleaner. They also sell a valve covers to match for small blocks.

We’re happy with the transformation overall and plan to take it back to the chassis dyno to see what the real difference is after we installed all of these parts. Make sure you enter to win this truck while you can! The Sweepstakes ends on FRIDAY! Then our next one starts; a 1970 Mustang fastback.



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2 thoughts on “Best of BS 2017: We Wake Up The Big Block Chevy In A 1971 C10 With A Plethora Of Off The Shelf Parts

  1. Randy H

    Absolute scam on the shot to enter to win this truck. ZERO mention of once they collect your name address and phone number it brings you to a page where you give your credit card info so they can charge you MONTHLY! Total Click bait.

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