Gyrhead & Sons - Customers and Friends
Cars like this 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo cause a lot of friction between customers and parts store counter guys:
Customer: “I need an alternator for my 1971 Monte Carlo”
Counter Guy: “What engine you got in that?”
Customer: “350 small block”
Counter Guy: “2 barrel or 4 barrel?”
Customer: “Tuned port injection 350”
Counter Guy: (head now cocked sideways – puppy style): “…….uh…umm..”
Chris Roche must experience this often. He’s a chronic overachiever who can’t sit still and can't stop modifying, cutting, welding and fiddling with things that aren’t broken. He’s the guy that decided to swap a 5 speed into his son’s Subaru Impreza RS (a positively HUGE task impacting transmission, wiring, ECU, etc.) simply because he had nothing better to do. After the 2012 Mayan Armageddon, I’m moving to Chris’ house because he can build a nuclear power station with an avocado, bar of soap and a clothes pin.
So, it was inevitable that Chris would one day ask about the NOS Tune Port Injected 350 engine we hauled back from Detroit - a leftover “tumble” (a new production line engine lightly damaged during handling) from the F-body assembly line.
Apparently Chris had a few hours free before supper – and what better way to spend it then swap a late model injected small-block into a classic GM A-body?
Chris’s 1971 Monte Carlo has lived a lot of lives. Delivered in 1971 from Potamkin Chevrolet to Hertz Leasing Miami, the Monte lived in the Sunshine state until 1980 when Chris brought the solid-but-ratty Monte to New Hampshire.
Originally a base 2 barrel 350 with TH350, Chris restored the Monte (twice) to very high cosmetic standards, and then built a stout small block with an L-79 cam and other go fast goodies.
Several years later he converted it to an M-20 4 speed and then swapped in a set of 3.36 gears. Most guys would have been content to stop there. Then along came that NOS tune port crate engine and the creative gears again started turning. The result is the creation you see today. Admittedly a work-in-progress, but it will soon morph into a beautiful runner indeed.
The main objective with the engine transplant was to make the installation appear as a factory effort. This sounds easy, but there are a lot of challenges to doing the TPI swap properly.
Wiring, fuel, emissions, AC, and accessories are impacted, and selecting the right combination of GM parts to pull it off was a real effort for Chris (and the Gyrhead AC-Delco order desk.) For example;
Then there are dozens of small parts like relays, sensors and the engine feed harness. To eliminate the need for the GM air pump, Chris and his Dad (a retired product designer) developed a mold and had a local foundry sand cast a custom aluminum idler pulley bracket (see below)
As we said before, the Monte is now a real parts counter nightmare – and we sure hope Chris kept good records to assist the next owner in buying the correct replacement parts.
As if the engine swap wasn't hard enough, Chris is also doing another frame-off on the Monte - including installation of an NOS RH quarter panel, new trunk filler, outer wheel house and a strip to bare metal. The entire frame was detailed, front end rebuilt and the steering box was replaced with the Monte SS quick steer unit (salvaged from the Gyrhead "low buck" Malibu wagon project.)
The performance of the 3,800 pound Monte will likely be somewhat mild. The TPI 350 is fairly low revving and makes a modest 245 SAE net horsepower – but the long runner intake excels at turning dinosaur juice into monumental amounts of bottom-end torque. With the Muncie M-20 transmission and 3.36 rear gear – the Monte should be a stylish, snappy and responsive street cruiser with turn-key reliability and decent fuel economy.
It will most certainly turn heads when he pops the miles long Monte hood – into which Chris seamlessly grafted an original, functional steel GM cowl induction set-up (the vacuum door actuator motor was junk, so Chris sorted through dozens of Delco AC actuator motors in our inventory – and eventually found a near perfect substitute, ask us)
In going through the CD album of photos Chris provided to Gyrhead for this article, we noticed a few pictures of early Montes that other owners had converted to convertibles. Given what we know of Chris, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him break out the Sawzall one day….This fellow just can’t sit still.
We’ll update you when Chris completes this imaginative machine and we finally get to take it for a drive. Stay tuned (port.)
Tod Smith from Tracy, California shares these pictures of his concours restored 1971 Z/28 with 330 Horsepower LT-1 and Muncie 4 speed. Tod's car is white with an unusual dark blue interior and shows a fantastic attention to detail throughout. Tod was very pleased to purchase a rare NOS transverse muffler (GM P/N 3983066) and a handful of NOS Harrison thermostats. They should prove a worthy addition to this fine ponycar.
While the early 302 Z/28's get most of the attention, the LT-1 cars were in many ways a superior machine with ample torque and a very well developed chassis package. And of course, the timeless and well proportioned GM styling doesn't hurt either..
Back in the early days, this was the most common view we got of these Z/28s. When you square off with one of these bad boys, you'd better come prepared! We enjoyed working with Tod and we hope you enjoy these pictures of his ride
How often do we get to re-live the carefree days of our youth? For Fred Hall of Orland Park, Illinois - he's doing exactly that! In 1966 Fred walked into his local Olds dealer and drove off in a gorgeous red 1966 Oldsmobile 442 with factory tri-power.
Fred enjoyed this rare supecar until 1975 when competing family obligations led him to sell it. He regretted this decision, and in later years tried in vain to locate the car and repurchase it. However, by then the ownership trail had gone cold and Fred could never find the car. Actually, this story struck a chord with us. We had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to purchase a 66 tripower 442 for $500 in 1979 and passed. Talk about hindsight being 20/20!
Well, sometimes we get to relive the dreams of our youth - and Fred was eventually able to locate another 1966 tripower car. Not a red car mind you, but this gorgeous white specimen.
Fred's restoration is nearly complete, and the list of parts he needs for concours status is enviably short. Fred was thrilled to find 3 NOS AC GF-124 fuel filters here at Gyrhead & Sons, the correct filter for these rare tri-power cars. We are very proud to have helped Fred move closer to his goal of a perfect 442. We are also heartened by stories of people who are willing to put their dreams into action. This is one of our favorite customer stories of all time - way to go Fred and thanks for sharing it with us!
Michael Kellogg from Los Angeles was kind enough to send a photo of his breathtaking 1969 Camaro Z/28. Michael recently completed his restoration, and Gyrhead & Sons was able to provide the correct (and hard to find!) NOS radio antenna that proved the perfect finishing touch. FoMoCo loyalists love to complain about excess magazine coverage of the `69 Camaro - but these cars get attention for a good reason. Quite frankly its hard to imagine a finer balance of exceptional styling, 7,000 RPM solid lifter performance and race heritage. Watching the Z/28 dice it out with the Boss 302 in the SCCA Trans-Am series was one of the highlights of the sixties!
Peter Bruun from Sweden is the proud owner of this 1970 455 GTO. He bought the car in November of 1989 from the original owner who bought it new and drag raced extensively in F/SA class . Peter also drag raced it in Sweden from 1990-94 and then the car sat dormant for almost 10 years. Peter's brother talked him into ressurecting it and last year it was alive again, inspected and with 33,000 original miles. As a carburetor specialist, Peter has tuned to car to nearly 19 MPG at 65 MPH. Power rules, but in the land of $8.00 per gallon fuel economy matters a lot too! Peter purchased an NOS 1970 dated alternator for his `Goat from Gyrhead & Sons and we're proud to play a role in Peter's restoration. We at Gyrhead & Sons ship nearly 30% of our orders overseas, and a huge percentage of these go to Sweden. There are a staggering number of American car enthusiasts in the Scandinavian countries and these guys really know their stuff!
This is Bobby Spedale's amazing 1969 Mustang GT 428 Cobrajet R-Code Convertible. Bobby found this incredibly rare ragtop languishing in a field, missing the entire CJ drivetrain, and practically all of the exterior panels.
Recognizing the significance of the find (one of just six Mustangs so built) Bobby rescued the Mustang and subjected it to an all out restoration. As you can see, the results speak for themselves.
This car shines like a jewel, and Bobby's craftsmanship is evident throughout. While Gyrhead's contribution to this fine pony was minimal (a few NOS ignition repair harnesses) we feel honored to count Bobby among our customers!
This is Joe Valenti's 1969 Cougar with a 428SCJ and fabled Drag Pak. The original buyer of this car clearly had their priorities right with the mighty Super Cobra Jet, C-6 auto, 4:30 gears and the plain jane hubcaps. If you needed further proof of this car's intent, the original buyer even ordered it with manual steering! We love the car Joe, thanks for sharing the pictures and specs with us!
Thanks to Chris Aho of Oregon for sharing this picture and details on his lime frost metallic 1967 Cougar GT. Factory equipped with the S-code 390 4 barrel, Chris upped the ante with headers, Cobra-Jet head work, an original 735 CFM Holley 4150 (also CJ issue), vintage Edelbrock Streetmaster intake, 2500 stall converter and a 3.89 9" locker. It's all good for a mid 13 second quarter (and likely enough torque to boil the tires at will) He also had custom styled steel wheels built to his own width and offset specs. The net result is a subtle custom with a decided "how we rolled in the 1970's" groove. These 390 Cougars were a ball to drive, and Chris's car evokes fond memories of a friend's 1968 390 Cougar in the early 1980s. Well done Chris!