May 2002 Feature Cars of the Month

Vrankin’s ‘Velles


This 1971 Malibu 350 was my 1st car. I purchased it in the summer of 1978 from a lady in Parkville MD. It was completely original except for the blocks attached to the gas and brake pedals so she could reach them. I was 16 at the time and going into my senior year at Eastern Vocational. I did the normal things a teenager did back then by installing HiJackers and Keystone Classics. I did a backyard exhaust job with headers, flex pipe, and Thrush mufflers. In 1982 I had a buddy help me put a 396 that I bought for $325.00 in it along with a turbo 400. Then later came the 12 bolt with 4.11's. Numerous upgrades were made including the exhaust. I made numerous visit's back then to Cecil County Drag Way on Street Racer nights and got a best of 12.2 with nitrous.

In 1985 I purchased this 71 El Camino SS to be my daily driver.

I figured this would be a good time to try a mild restoration and repaint my coupe. I stripped it and repainted it in red lacquer. Once it was sanded and buffed the car looked pretty darn good. As a few years passed, mother nature started taking it's toll on the body and it started rusting again. In 1989 I decided to do a complete restoration and took the Chevelle off the road. I always wondered if I would be able to tub the car. With encouragement from friends I decided to go for it. I started the disassembly and purchased a rear half frame kit, 4 link and Koni coilovers from Alston. I paused for a while but eventually got the torch out and started cutting to make room for the 15x33x19.5 Mickey Thompsons mounted on Weld Draglite's. The factory sheet metal floors were retained and the big tubs were welded in place. After the frame work and suspension were permanently welded in, I took the frame out to sandblast it. The frame was primed and sanded numerous times to obtain a smooth black finish.

A '69 427 Corvette motor was obtained and taken to Racing Parts & Machine were it was bored .030 over and fitted with TRW 11.2 pistons. I found a set of square port heads that were lightly worked and had a Crane Roller cam with .708 lift and roller lifters put in. All the normal tricks were done to it . The Desk Top Dyno estimates max horsepower of 617 @ 6000 rpm & 600 ft.lbs. of torque at 4500 rpm.

One detail that is easy to go unnoticed is the hidden wiring. I replaced the wiring with products from Painless Wiring and routed it in a custom fabricated sheetmetal panel in order to keep it hidden as much as possible.

The trans is an ATI unit with a reverse manual valve body and a Treemaster 4200 stall converter. A Hurst Quarter Stick works great controlling the shifts. The rear is a narrowed 12 bolt with 4.88's with Strange Axles with C-clip eliminators.

Once the majority of the mechanical side of it was done and I had a rolling chassis I began the long painstaking detail of the body. The body was suspended from the ceiling where it hung for a few years. I removed the roof drip rails, smoothed the firewall and replaced both quarters . I only had to spread the rear wheel opening 1 1/2 inches to make enough room for the fat Mickey's. The body and floors were primed and sanded numerous times. I then moved to the doors which were blocked smooth and eliminated the locks, handles and shaved the trunk lock cylinder. All the panels were prepped and detailed inside and out. The entire body was then fitted and blocked many times prior to painting. I painted it from top to bottom with Flame Red Dupont Chroma 1 single stage urethane. You can crawl anywhere underneath and all you will find is a shine.

The final part of this 10 year project was a custom interior which is the only part I was not capable of tackling. I had Barry Schuster of Perry Hall MD stitch the custom gray leather and tweed interior including the trunk. I could not be happier with the outcome.

This project that started in late 1989 was finally completed in June of 2000 just in time to make it to the MCC show in Northeast. I was proud to take home a 1st place trophy in the Modified Class that year as well as Best Interior. I take it on occasional cruises in and around Harford County shows and have received numerous awards. The car is an awesome looking tire-burner which I will never part with.

The more distant events like the Ocean City cruise this Prostreeter hitches a ride pulled by my El Camino. The El Camino was retired as a daily driver in 1991 with 223,000 miles on it at which time I replaced a lot of rusty sheetmetal and painted it white with black SS stripes. The 396 that I bought back in 1982 for $325.00 was ready for a new home and found it's way in the El Camino in 1995. The motor only needed to be resealed, and lifters replaced. It still runs good to this day. That must be the best $325.00 I ever spent! It makes for a good tow vehicle and will fry the tires off the Camino with little effort.

A sincere THANKS is due to my wife Debbie for the support, patience and understanding of my motor related obsessions.

I wonder how this Chevelle would look and run with a blower sticking through the hood? Humm?? To be continued!


Dave Vrankin (#152)


Click Here to view Previous Features of the Month