540 Big Block 81 Camaro build

Discussion in 'Project Progress' started by Mike Busutil, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. Mike Busutil

    Mike Busutil Veteran Member

    Oct 16, 2010
    Yuma Arizona
    Hello Nasty Z28,

    I have a 1981 Berlinetta Camaro with T-Tops and a 267ci small block automatic that I bought in 04. When I got it, it had a new paint job, new interior and a rebuilt engine. It was a very clean looking Camaro and drove great. I drove this car for a while with the intentions of rebuilding her as a Pro Touring Camaro and too much power. About a month after I got it my oil pickup fell off in the pan while on the freeway... I found this out later on after I heard my engine making angry noises and losing power leaving me on the side of the road.

    It did enough damage to my engine that I had to rebuild it. After the rebuild I drove her everywhere and enjoyed my Camaro again. About a year later she got a slight oil leak which made me mad because I just rebuilt that engine and hated the thought of getting back into the engine to replace a rear main seal. (Which I thought was the cause of my leak but did not confirm) Because it was light, I ignored it and just added oil here and there.

    Then in 2006 I was deploying to Iraq so I parked my Camaro in a storage lot in Las Vegas. There she sat for 3 years... After I got back and settled in a new home I picked her up and found someone had removed my car cover. Her new paint and interior were badly faded, she started right up BUT ran like crap, my carb was dried up, fuel was old and she smoked like crazy from the floats being stuck. So I trailered her to my new house in Arizona. I decided to sell her but I could not find anyone that wanted her or the headache of fixing her up.

    I then decided I was going to tow her to the desert a few miles from my home where there is a shooting range that needed a new target for us to shoot at. I got busy here and there and never got around to taking her on her last trip to the desert. After all this I was in my garage just looking at the sad state of my Camaro and thought of all the years she has been driving since 1981 and how much I liked driving her.

    I thought about how she died on me, was brought back to life, sat in storage for three years, then still had enough in her to still run. I could not sell her or give her away, my attempts at taking her to the shooting range were always interrupted and still she sat in my garage. The time felt right to rebuild her the way I wanted to. I started two weeks ago with the tear down. I grew up working on cars and engines but never fully rebuilt one on my own so this is my 1st attempt at it but I am confident I can do it right and will have my dad's help along the way. I am sure I will have lots of questions for you guys along the way.

    As of now I have the car completely stripped down to a bare shell. She has an extremely clean body with nearly no rust as all. I am ending her original life with just over 82,000 original miles on her. When she comes back to life, she will be completely new. I just had the sub frame sandblasted and powder coated.

    As far as my plan for the car, I decided if I am going to do this I want to do it right. I want to install the best parts possible so I will be getting most of my parts from Detroit Speed Engineering (DSE) I plan to get the DSE Deep Tubs so I can fit a 335 rear tire, a DSE Quadra link, DSE 4 point roll cage, DSE frame connectors, Complete DSE front and rear suspension including a custom built 9" rear end. I don't want to do another LS build... I love a old school Big Block engine with a big carburetor and long tube headers so I am going with a 9.0L 540ci Big Block with rectangle port heads and big long headers. I am planning on a Tremec TKO 600 5 speed transmission to put behind it. She will have BAER Pro racing brakes with 6 piston calipers on 14" drilled, slotted and vented rotors for both the front and rear. I will be replacing everything brand new except the sub frame and body shell.

    I want to have one of the most cleanest, nicest & most Bad Ass 1981 Camaro's around!

    I know there is a lot of work ahead of me, but I will not give up...

    My first question is can I expect to run into problems with the fit of the 540ci Big Block and my A/C near the firewall?

    Thanks and great site!

    Completed Progress: (Will be updated throughout the build)

    Tear down completed
    Removed all original paint & primer
    Body work completed
    New Detroit Speed Deep tubs installed
    Underbody stripped, primer sealed and undercoated.
    Sub Frame sandblasted & Powder coated, installed with new Detroit Speed's solid body mounts
    New Detroit Speed Subframe connectors installed
    Body shell etch primed
    New Detroit Speed firewall fill plate installed (Firewall smoothed out and painted)
    New Detroit Speed 4-point roll cage fitted, Powder coated & installed
    New Detroit Speed upper and lower tubular control arms installed
    New Detroit Speed 2" Big Block drop springs and Koni adjustable front shocks installed
    New Detroit Speed inner & outer tie rods installed with adjusters.
    New Detroit Speed Idler arm installed
    New Detroit Speed front anti roll bar installed
    New Detroit Speed 600 steering gear installed
    New Detroit Speed Aluminum Power Steering Remote Reservoir installed w/ new Detroit Speed steel braided power steering hoses
    New Detroit Speed quadralink installed (4-link)
    New Custom 9" rear end built by Detroit Speed installed with 3:70 gears & JRi 'Detroit Tuned' valving Coilover Springs
    New Detroit Speed adjustable rear anti roll bar installed
    New Baer Pro 14" brake system with 6 piston calipers installed on front and rear suspension
    New Tremec TKO 600 5-Speed transmission installed w/ Hurst shifter
    New QuickTime bellhousing installed
    New Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch installed
    New Moroso solid engine mounts installed
    New 9.0L 540ci Big Block full roller engine with rectangle port heads installed.
    New Moroso Gold 8qt oil pan installed.
    New March polished serpentine system installed
    New MSD ignition installed
    New MSD Pro Billet distributor installed
    New Holley Ultra HP 950 cfm aluminum race carb installed
    New Doug's full length ceramic coated headers installed (2 1/8" tubes w3.5" collector)
    New clutch & brake pedal assembly installed
    New clutch "Z-bar", spring and linkage installed
    New 20 gallon fuel tank installed
    New 130 GPH fuel pump installed
    New stainless fuel filter installed
    New fuel pressure regulator installed
    New Stainless steel braided fuel lines installed
    New fuel pressure gauge installed
    New MSD DynaForce ultra torque starter installed
    New Stainless Steel brake lines installed
    New Entropy dual fan aluminum radiator rated at 1,000 HP installed
    First engine start up completed
    New Dynotech engineering 3.5" 6061-T6 Aluminum racing driveshaft installed.
    New Pypes 3.5" X-pipe exhaust installed
    New trunk lid installed with rear spoiler
    New rear window to trunk panel installed
    New inner fenders installed
    New fenders installed
    New door hinges,pins & springs installed
    New chrome door strikers installed
    New Eddie Motorsports Billet Door Jamb Vents installed (Black Fusioncoat)
    Doors mounted with new custom billet door handles
    New door locks installed
    New custom three piece forged KWC wheels installed with BFG Rival tires (245x40x18 front w4.875 BS / 335x30x18 rear w5.5BS)
    New Vintage Air climate control system installed
    New hood hinges installed
    New hood hinge springs installed (Low tension springs for fiberglass hood)
    New Harwood fiberglass 3"cowl induction Hood installed
    New L.E.D tail lights & running lights installed
    New fuel cap door installed
    New Stinger fiberglass rear bumper cover installed
    New intermediate steering shaft installed
    New Optima high performance battery installed
    New American Autowire wiring harness installed
    New turn signal switch installed
    New door locks installed
    New ignition installed
    New ignition switch installed
    New upper and lower steering column bearings installed
    New B&B Classics billet aluminum steering wheel adapter installed
    New lightweight DSE/Driven steering wheel installed
    New Stinger fiberglass front bumper cover installed
    New Paint (High gloss Vivid black)
    New 6061-T6 Aluminum Billet grill installed
    New weatherstripping installed
    New glass installed including all new rubber stops and new window felts.
    New Dynamat installed
    New carpet installed
    New "Body by Fisher" Scuff Plate / Door Sills installed
    New headliner installed
    New rear package tray install
    New Sail Pillar trim panels installed
    New Quarter Trim Lower Plastic panels installed. (Cut and stretched to fit the new Tubbs)
    New complete upper dash installed
    New complete lower dash installed
    New AC ducting & vents installed
    New Classic Dash Panel w/ Autometer Phantom Gauges installed
    New door panels installed
    New door panel armrest installed
    New T-top clips installed
    New rear window trim molding installed
    New Speedometer cable installed
    New trunk divider installed
    New trunk Divider Board Insulation
    New rear seats installed
    New front seats installed
    New kick panels installed
    New rear seat Chevy logo lap belts installed
    New 5-point Schroth Latch-link II Harnesses installed
    New center console installed
    New sun visors installed
    New "Camaro" emblem installed on fuel door
    New Billet brushed aluminum rear view mirror installed
    New side mirrors installed
    New Spectre Profab 4" dual cold air intake installed
    New Anvil Black powdercoated locking hood pins installed
    New Spectre chrome radiator overflow tank installed
    New headlight bezels installed
    New headlights installed
    New parking light bezels & lenses installed
    New windshield trim installed
    New Dual Thrush Glasspack mufflers installed
    New dome light installed
    New Detroit Speed Billet aluminum Horn Button installed
    New AEM Digital Wideband Air/Fuel Ratio kit installed
    Washed, buffed, polished and waxed.
    First drive complete!

    Plastic oil pressure line replaced with Copper line
    First 1,000 miles complete.
    New Weiand 8-71 Supercharger with twin 950 blower carbs installed
    (Including new Hardened "Hellfire" piston rings from JE Pistons & SCE ICS Titan HD Copper head gaskets)
    New AutoMeter Boost/Vacuum gauge installed
    MSD Boost Timing Master installed

    Video updates.

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  2. GOLF72

    GOLF72 Veteran Member

    Jan 11, 2010
    Welcome to the site.

    I do not have an answer for you but I know you will find it here. These guys are all pretty knowledgeable.

    Post some pics
  3. JaredMcQueer

    JaredMcQueer Veteran Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    Englewood, Colorado
    Not quite sure but that will be one bad ass car! for sure post pics
  4. 71RS/SS396

    71RS/SS396 Veteran Member

    Aug 26, 2008
    Wake Forest NC
    This pic will give you an idea of how much clearance you will have. This is a factory big block a/c car, but keep in mind the factory BB cars used a shorter motor mount.


    JONESYFXR Veteran Member

    Oct 10, 2009
    Is this engine a ZZ502 crate motor or a locally built unit? The ZZ502 comes with the shorter valve covers and should be able to clear your factory A/C. If it was built by a race shop and they used the BBC tall valve covers you might have some issues.

    Otherwise post some pics and have a blast building that rocket!!!!!
  6. Mike Busutil

    Mike Busutil Veteran Member

    Oct 16, 2010
    Yuma Arizona
    Perfect picture, Thanks for posting. I read somewere that there is a difference between the small block motor mounts and big block motor mounts that shifts the engine forward or backwards a few inches. Good point on the shorter mounts. I will look into this. Thanks again.

  7. Mike Busutil

    Mike Busutil Veteran Member

    Oct 16, 2010
    Yuma Arizona
    I can post some pictures in a few but keep in mind it does not look like much right now.... Just a completley stripped Camaro in the begining of a full rebuild :bowtie:

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  8. Twisted_Metal

    Twisted_Metal Administrator Staff Member Lifetime Gold Member

    Feb 26, 2004
    Bloomington, MN
    You will need different accessory brackets for the big block.
    If you're keeping the A/C system intact, you'll need different brackets for the compressor too.

    Beyond the accessory issue, header fitment will be the other challenge.
    I've seen the A/C "case" on the firewall modified (cut and patched) to clear BBC headers.
    It's much easier to do BEFORE the engine is installed.

    JONESYFXR Veteran Member

    Oct 10, 2009

    I think with those valve covers you'll be fine. I can't wait to see it!! Sounds like a perfect street/ strip machine!!!!
  10. Mike Busutil

    Mike Busutil Veteran Member

    Oct 16, 2010
    Yuma Arizona







    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012

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