The teacher droned on endlessly about a subject I had no interest in. I looked at the clock which I swear must be going backwards. Class is over at 3:10, it is Friday afternoon on this beautiful spring day. I hate being inside when the weather is so nice. Earlier today the school counselor told me that I need to take things more serious if I want to graduate next year. Wow, next year is going to be 1977, that had seemed like it was so far into the future. Come on clock, get to 3:10, I have things to do! FINALLY, the bell rings.
I am up out of my desk chair with book in hand heading for the door. Fortunately my locker is on my way out to the parking lot. Maybe I can make it without someone wanting to talk about something. If I make it to my VW Bug quickly, I can be one of the first out of the school parking lot. The machine shop called yesterday to let me know the work on the big block was finished and it ready to pick up. Hopefully, my brother will let me use his pickup truck to go get the block.
I almost made it to the parking lot when I heard, “Hey Joe”. I turned to see who called my name, it was my old friend Chris. “What’s up?” I asked as I continued walking towards my Bug. “Are you going to the boat dock this afternoon? Lots of guys are going” The boat dock was the favorite hangout place for teenagers. “No, too much to do” I said. Chris replied, “Still working on the Camaro?” “Yep, the block is ready to pick up. I have to go get it and start building. Maybe with some luck I can have it ready to drop in by Sunday afternoon.” Chris looked at me and as serious as he could, said, “You know, there is life outside of cars” I smiled and said, “That’s hard to believe” I was almost to the Bug when Chris said, “Hey, there is that new girl, Emily I think is her name.” I stopped to look and said, “Who transfers to another school this late in the year?” Chris said, “I heard her Dad is military, he just got transferred here”. I thought, she is cute, even drives a decent car, a ’69 Chevelle.
I pulled up into our driveway and saw that Jim’s truck was still here. He had not left for work. I went inside the house and saw Jim at the table eating a bowl of cereal. I asked, “Can I borrow your truck? The block is ready to pick up. You can take the Bug to work” Without looking up Jim relied, “Sure, but you owe me”.
After driving across town to the machine shop, I pulled into the parking lot and drove around to the back knowing that is where they will load up the block. I walked to the office and said, “I am here to pick up that Chevy block” The guy at the desk, said “Which Chevy block, we have three of them here.” I said, “The big block, the 427” “Oh yeah, that is a nice block, you don’t see that many 4 bolt mains here. What’s it going in? A truck?” “No, a ’68 Camaro”. “No way!” he replied. “That is going to be awesome!” “How much to I owe you” I asked. “$180” was the answer. “180? What all did you do?” “We bored it .030 over, turned the crank and installed new cam bearings and freeze plugs. We even magna-fluxed it to make sure there were no cracks”. “Ok” I said as I filled out the check.
I backed into our driveway and pulled up as close as I could to the garage door. The engine chain hoist was suspended from the T-Rail track in the ceiling would barely reach the back of the truck. I bolted a small chain to the head threads using old head bolts. I attached the hoist and pulled the chain to start lifting the block out of the truck bed. The block finally swung free of the truck and I walked the block over to the engine stand using the hoist trolley. Once I got the block bolted to the stand and the hoist stowed out of the way, I walked to the back of the garage to look over the Camaro.
Most people see their cars as a necessity to get from point A to point B, I am different. I see my cars as personal friends. I even name them and talk with them. The blue ’68 Camaro with white Z/28 stripes is named ‘Mule’. I call it Mule because sometimes it is stubborn, other times it can kicks like a mule when it leaves the starting line. It also earned the name Mule because it was my personal test mule for different engines I have put in it. “I have a big block for you now” I told Mule, “I know you will love it; that is if it does not tear you apart.”
As I walked back to the engine stand to start working, I was glad I have that Muncie M22 four speed, maybe it will handle the torque the big block will produce. I had finished the heads a few days ago. I lapped the valves, replaced the valve guides with bronze guides. Installed new springs and ported and polished the intake runners. Man, are these iron rectangle heads are heavy! I wish I could find a set of aluminum heads but that is like finding a diamond out in a field. I looked through the parts I have been collecting for this engine build and found that I have everything I need.
As I worked through the night building the engine, I thought about cars that I would like to try this one in. My dream car has always been a mid-year Corvette. Any year model, 1963 – 1967, as long as it was a coupe. The radio played in the background, the constant hiss of air escaping the air hose at the coupler and the compressor kicking on every once in a while kept me company. I finally finished the assembly around 3:00 AM.
After sleeping most of the day I decided that I would take the Bug over to Freeport to check out the muscle that cruised Main Street that evening. There were the usual cars that I have seen most every weekend. One time I was behind a ’69 Charger when a ’70 Boss 302 Mustang pulled up next to it. I knew there was going to be a race when the light turned green. When the lights facing the cross street turned yellow, I heard the RPMs in both cars go up high. Both cars launched with tires screaming which could barely be heard over the open headers. In an instant, all I saw was two sets of tail lights going away from me rapidly. From my vantage point I was not sure who won the race, I think it was the Mustang. It was close.
Later that night I was about to head on home when I saw the most gorgeous red ’66 Corvette coupe with side pipes and big block hood. I could tell there was nothing in the pipes by the sound of them. I had never seen this car before and I tried to see who was driving but was not able to see inside. The large cam was really noticeable as the Corvette went loping past in the opposite direction. I could also hear the whine of the rock crusher 4 speed. That car was built for one thing and it was out looking for it. I had to get back to my garage to finish Mule so I could take on the Vette.
As the weekend drew to a close I had the engine and trans installed in the Camaro but had not started it yet. It was late Sunday night when I was ready but for the neighbor’s sake I did not fire it up since it was open headers.
I wrote this as a fictitious story. I thought back to my high school days about real experiences but with a dream twist. This is my first attempt at writing fiction. The Camaro build is based on some of the things I did in High School. The Vette and Girl part of the story is stuff I dreamed about back then. Anyway, I had fun writing this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it.
Here is the "The Mystery Vette":