G-force

Throughout the history of Hot Rodding, every generation or two has had a favorite vehicle brand and model to wage their war against the common car. But, these common cars were always affordable and seldom brand new when purchased. Of course since the 1950s were half gone the favorite was Chevrolet, starting in 1955, with the then powerful 265ci and next the 283ci V-8s. From that date until today Chevrolet has been the top selling American engineered and built brand. When those early V8 cars were less than 5 years old they were on used car lots in quantity, so hot rodders could not just buy engines to put in their old cars, they could actually afford the entire car. (In the '50s and early '60s the average trade in period was three years.)

What is the product by Chevrolet that hot rodders will be building for the next 20 years? I thoroughly believe it will be the Chevrolet G-body: Malibu, Monte Carlo, or El Camino. It is rear wheel drive - an important thing to hot rodders. There are still many left in the marketplace and it is the last mid-size Chevrolet with a perimeter frame under the body. To many, these frames might be considered a large weighty lump of metal that really isn’t needed as proven by the unibody cars built since the early 1960s. But the frame is actually lighter than most unibody cars and rigid is best for any kind of automotive competition.

It is already a quite rigid car that can be made to handle as well as anything on the streets and there are plenty of parts in junkyards and the aftermarket. To me their weakest part is the differential and the only V8 offered was the “mighty 305ci” smog engine that couldn’t even come close to busting it. It wasn’t anything worthy of being called a V-8 compared to even the weakest 350ci made. The good part is that any SBC you choose will bolt right in and you can, of course, you can stick an LS engine of any cubic inch size with the right adaptor motor mounts.

I have used a “G-body” for the last hot rod build I do, an El Camino that left the Saltillo, Mexico, assembly plant in 1985. By the way, the last full year El Caminos were built was 1987, but in 1988 there were still 446 bodies sitting in Saltillo so they were built in 1988 too. If you find one, it is a very rare El Camino to be sure. Bottom line? Take a good look at any G-body (Chevy, Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac) as the only thing differentiating them is the outside trim, a bit of sheetmetal and engines. The famous Turbo-Buick from that time period is a G-body. If you find a very good Oldsmobile from the 1977 to 1987 period you can always convert it to a Chevy including the engine with just a bit of sheet metal and trim.

If you want to get ahead of the curve, now would be the time to buy your own G-body, as they are still cheap. I bought my El Camino 4 years ago for $2,500. It's a Texas car that was never in snow and had no rust except for the rear foot-wells. I drove it home and stripped it of everything but the frame and body before I started rebuilding it. The rust in the rear footwells was from our Texas friends throwing their not-quite empty cans of brew right behind the bench seats. That caused rust in the footwells; from the inside out. Have fun regardless of what model and year Chevrolet you own, drive it and enjoy.

Max Chevy covers all automotive things Chevy. A new issue of MaxChevy.com is published every other month and is updated weekly.

 

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