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1970 El Camino 350 Daily Driver Project - Lots of modern Modz

47187 Views 492 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  sdcerreta
I am new to this forum. I am hoping to share some of my modz and project work while gaining some insight from others as well.

I have been building a new 2019 Subaru Forester Sport for the past year or so since buying it. I am glad to learn that the El Camino Central forum uses the same forum engine. Should be easy transition.

I am known for posting detailed build projects with lots of photos and hope to do the same for this project. I will share a little about this car and then I will move forward with some projects.

This car belonged to my father-in-law. He bought it in about 1990. It was his pride to work on. He did a restoration himself including the paint. There is nothing original about this car. It does not have matching numbers. He built it the way he wanted to drive it and he was proud of that.

Before his passing, the car had sat untouched for about 3 years. We fired it up and in his last year of life we spent some time working on the car together. Since he has passed, I slowly began moddifying this car in about 2015 to become a daily driver. Like him, I wanted this car to be what I wanted to drive and enjoy. I also want this to be a car to remmeber him by and one that my wife will drive and enjoy as well, especially since it was her father.

Since 2015, my wife feels scared to drive this car. My pursuit has been long but continues with the premise that I want to convert this car into something with a modern and reliable feel. I have no interest in keeping this car original at all. Therefore, this project build is all about performance, comfort, and reliability.

And away we go . . .
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Edelbrock and Throttle Setup

32- Edelbrock Setup-1 My original plan was to get the suspension in place, lower the car then work on the motor. However, I really loved being able to step inside the fender and work on the motor. Easier on the back and I could reach everywhere I needed to be. Therefore, I decided to take advantage of the extra space and do all the motor work before the suspension. Plus, I really enjoy the wiring projects more than working on suspension.

34- Edelbrock Setup-3 Everything passed the dry fitting. Valve covers fit over the rockers, intake matches the block. All looks good. Now it is time to prep the Edelbrock Pro Flo 4 XT multiport injection system for installation.

35- Edelbrock Setup-4 One of the complaints some people made about this system is that it lacked vacuum ports. So, I was prepared to run some T valves so I could connect the tranny line, PCV and Brake booster. I only needed 3 ports and from what I could read and see online there was two ports as shown in this photo. I also expected all the ports to be included, but this was not the case. So, I was off to the parts store to get several pieces I needed for installation. First up was a 3/8” vacuum port.

36- Edelbrock Setup-5 Next up was the addition of a 5/8” heater hose adapter.

37- Edelbrock Setup-6 In the front there are two open ports that I needed to cap. I bought one set plug and had a brass plug from the other intake that I reused. I should also mention that I using plumbers dope instead of tape on all these fittings.

38- Edelbrock Setup-7 After playing around with the throttle body I looked inside the system to see where the vacuum line fittings were sitting and I noticed a third hole in the far right corner. Wow, I was surprised. I could not find anything online that described this port hole, but it was capped. I removed it to install a 3/8” vacuum port and now I had the perfect port for the brake booster without running a T adapter. The other bonus is that this port is really built for the brake booster in mind. It baffles me why this is not described anywhere in the manual or online at Edelbrock.

39- Edelbrock Setup-8 On both sides of the intake there are these open holes designed for a throttle bracket or something like that. So, I just used some short bolts to plug the holes. These holes line up with a flat spot on the cylinder heads.

40- Edelbrock Setup-9 Bolts in place

41- Edelbrock Setup-10 The last step was to pull off the throttle body and install the thermostat and housing.

42- Edelbrock Setup-11 The thermostat housing was rubbed and painted black. Everything is setup now and ready for install.
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Pedals, Throttle Cable and Wiring Setup

43- Throttle Setup-1 The lokar Brake pedal requires drilling into the stock metal pedal and inserting some bolts. The rubber pads are glued in place on top of the screw holes. You can see the gas pedal installed as well. This requires removal of the stock pedal and a simple bolt on with the new. The factory cable hole was in the right position. So, no mods required here other than some washers to fit the Lokar firewall mount.

44- Throttle Setup-2 During cable routing I found it helpful to use a 4 lb hammer to depress the gas pedal so I could set the tension of the cable to WOT on the throttle body.

45- Throttle Setup-3 Cable housing was trimmed. A zip tie kept WOT in place and the cable was cut and inserted into the set in.

46- Throttle Setup-4 Here you can see the high pressure fuel line in place. There is very little clearance under the throttle pulley. So, I found that a 45deg bend AN6 fitting worked best.

47-Wiring-1 47-Wiring-1 As I went to install the spark plug wire holders, I discovered that the wing bolts are too short. So, off to the hardware store and I found a stainless steel set screw with flathead slot that was ¼” longer. This was a perfect match.

48-Wiring-2 A lot of work has been done here. The coil was installed. The EFI processor was installed on the delete box and the spark plug wires were routed and installed. I like the red pop of color, but some of the wires are a little short and I was eyeing a new wire holder that will match the black theme. If I go this direction, I would buy the black MSD universal plug wire set so I can cut to length and get it all perfect. Thoughts?

49-Wiring-3 Here is the final photo in the series for now. A lot of work got done here that is hard to appreciate in a single photo. I installed and routed the wiring harness. Another complaint many people make regarding the Edelbrock system is the complicated wiring harness. Many believe it is just too much and difficult to route and hide the wires. Well, I found the opposite to be true, at least for the XT system. The benefit of this system is that there is a large well under the throttle body tube to hide all the wires. If you look close you can see that the bulk of the sensor wires and injector wires are all underneath. After I get everything done I will go back with some wire ties and try to bundle things up off of the base to prevent heat radiating into the harness wires as much as possible. The main harness connected to the processor features a couple relays and fuse block. This runs across the top towards the passenger side tire well. This is a great location and the power cables can reach the battery without extensions. I plan to mount the fuel pump relay in this area too. This keeps all relays and fuses in the same location. Then a single power wire will run to the Aeromotive Stealth in-tank fuel pump. I used woven wire loom in several areas. I also had to tap the water temp sensor so I can connect the EFI processor and the Dakota Digital gauge cluster. Vacuum lines are all connected. Form this view point, you really can’t see that monster harness. It is buried under the throttle body tube.

All in all, I am in a good place after 5 days of work. The garage is a mess and I am full of bruises. But, my decision to assemble the motor before the suspension is paying off.

I am having good success on painting chrome metal by roughening the surface with scotch brite before painting. I may try to tackle the bumpers and headlight bezels. But I keep debating on the color here. I like the satin black finish, but I am not sure it will have a finished appearance. A gloss black make work better on the exterior trim, grille and bumpers. Any thoughts???
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Well, I fired it up tonight. I did not think I would get it all assembled this weekend. No time for a ride, just got everything back together and it started. Ideled high, but stayed running. I have a lot of little things to do and fix. Also need some replacement parts.

More details in the next few days when I am back at work and have more time in the evenings.

I'm so excited that it fired up right away!!! as it should. I hate the FiTech.

Couple quick photos.


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I need some quick help. After installing the suspension, the front en d sits 2" lower. The 235/65/17 tires rub on the inner fenders.

Any recommendation on tire size and brand? I am looking for a performance tire. Something with aggressive thread and cornering ability. I am also thinking about a staggered setup. Any thoughts on that?

Not much time either as I am hoping to install tires on Thursday am and then get an alignment on Thursday afternoon, then out for a weekend trip to visit my parents if all is running right.

For reference, no rubbing on the rear tires. Original was 215/70R15, 27.7" diameter. Current tires are 225/65R17, 28.5". I think if I get a tire around 26.5" diameter that will correct the 2" drop, but not positive.
Scott, What happens if you install your rears on the front?
Can that help you estimate possibilities?
Hey old bear, nothing would happen. The wheels and tires are all the same.

I did some searching and reading Hot Rod mag and it seems like getting the right stance is important. I read an article on what not to do, so I think that helped a lot. I also read the Nitto tires are built for Muscle cars in mind and I like that idea. It seems like the Nitto 555 G2 is a great muscle car street tire. I am leaning in this direction. Hard to find the staggered sizes that I want and get them delivered in a day. I may have to make some compromises, but then that will often lead to regret. Still thinking on this one.
The Nitto 555 are nice. They exceed my budget, so I run affordable soft Riken (by Michelin) Raptor tires. 225 x 55x 17 and 255 x 50 x 17 ZR rear.

One thing is that some performance tire sizes are getting harder to find. Not much available in performance tires below 17 inch rims.
Other than Hoosier and GoodYear slicks.
Possibly Mickey Thompsons in 15 inch are available, not just their slicks.
Here is a link to a tire comparison calculator showing two tire sizes together.

This output example shows the tires:
1: I use on front on my tired 50 year old stock suspension (drop by age and lower diameter tire size)
2: The tires you have on front
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thanks Old Bear. I have been using that website for many years. It is still my go to over many others. Thanks for sharing your tires back.
I did place an order at 1 AM last night. I'm hoping tires arrive today. I am going with the Nitto 235/45/17 in front and 275/40/17.

I am hoping to nail this stance. Time will tell. The tires have very similar overall diameter's. All the suspension is new and I recall the front dropping more than the rear. Therefore I am hoping for a slightly taller rear stance compared to front when viewing under the doors and no difference in the upper wheel wells.
Watch the speed bumps. This will lower you more than before.
How much clearance between your header and the ground?


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My best answer is: 2/3 of a steep speed bump.
3 inches
4 fingers
That is some low hanging headers! You couldn't even tell that I had headers on my small block '68 EC unless you opened the hood. I think they were Hooker long tube.
I need to lift the front about an inch I think.


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That is some low hanging headers! You couldn't even tell that I had headers on my small block '68 EC unless you opened the hood. I think they were Hooker long tube.

That is also with camera on ground looking up, frame is pretty darn low too. I cant get my low profile jack under the cross member with out driving on some 1" x 6" boards.
Meyer, how many inches off the ground is that? I think I am about the same now.

I am such a bone-head. Those tires are definately too small. I actually bought the tires based on some internet researching. I was too lazy to get off my buyt and take measurements. Also, my go to auto repair shop could not perform an alignment, because the heads on thier equipment could not grip the tire in the correct locations because too much tire was up and under the fender well.

I also called Mark SC&C and his recommendation on this suspension package was 235/50 and 275/50. That is about an inch taller on the fronts and 2" taller on the rears. So, I went back to DT today and asked if I had any options of getting a replacement set and they said, no problem we will take care of you. I own 5 cars and drop a lot of coin at DT. I also know the manager becuae I have brought them so many project builds, but I don't think that really had anything to do with me. I think it is just in their practice to take care of customers. This makes me happy and yet another reason why I love to use DT for all my tire purchases.

So, after the suspension upgrade here are some numbers on my stance (I should have done my measurements before buying tires): I took three measurements for front and three for the rear. I measured from the ground to the panel IN FRONT OF WHEEL, IN BACK OF WHEEL and from GROUND TO BOTTOM OF WHEEL WELL TRIM. I also took three additional measurements from GROUND TO BOTTOM OF RIGHT HEADER COLLECTOR, GROUND TO BOTTOM OF MUFFLER and GROUND TO BOTTOM OF OIL PAN FRAME CROSS BEAM.

Goodyear Assurance 225/65R17 x 4. These were too tall and I could not turn my wheels without serious rubbing.
Front of Tire =12"
Behind Tire = 8.5"
Wheel Well = 25"

Front of Tire =9.5"
Behind Tire = 13.5"
Wheel Well = 24"

I would like to add here that I have always made measurements in front and behind tires to look for clearance. I have never taken measurements at teh wheel well. In discussion with Mark, only the wheel well measurements really mean anything to him and other enthusiasts when discussing stance. My old logic applies more to off road machines when you try to get rock clearance. So, if you study the details, it looks like the rear sits higher than the front. But this is not true. If I woudl have paid attention to the distance to teh wheel well I woudl have seen that the rear stance is 1" shorter than the front and I woudl have tried to get a larger rear tire, rather than trying to match the tire diamters front and rear.

I also grabbed:
Headers: 2.5"
Muffler: 11.25"
Corss Beam: Did not measure but about 4"

After mounting the Nitto 555 G2 Tires in a staggered format (Front 235/45R17 Rear 275/40/R17)
Front of Tire =10.25"
Behind Tire = 7"
Wheel Well = 23.5"

Front of Tire =8.25"
Behind Tire = 11.5"
Wheel Well = 22.5"

Headers: 2"
Muffler: 9"
Corss Beam: 3"

All this work was done yesterday. I really do not like the car this low. As I drove around to get tires and alignment I scrapped the headers about 6 times. So, today I went back to DT to order new tires in a larger size and I stopped by the muffler shop that did my original header install with custom pipes. I was asking them for any quick fixes or cutting the long tube headders. They recommended that I not play around at all and just buy shorty headers. After thinking about it a tiny bit, I realized this is really the right way to go. The rest of my pipes are up close to the frame around 5-6" and that is about where my headers sat before I added the suspension upgrade.

So this is the new plan for a proper stance and header clearance:
Nitto 555 G2 Front 225/50R17 (they don't make the 235). Rear 275/50/17 (they don't make the 45, but I also need to gain 2" diameter for the proper stance at the wheel well. Mark says you can get a tire up to 29" in the rear and the Goodyears were 28.3 with no rubing at all, but they were skinny too compared to the 275 Nittos)

For Headers, I need to do some searching. Does anyone have a preference for shorty headers? I have basic long tube Hedman Hedders now and I like them. I do want something that has a similar or even improved clearance around the spark plugs.

I really hope this is the right combination. For stance, the car looks pretty flat, but when measuring you can clearly see that the rear wheel well is 1" lower than the front. I want that well to be 1" higher. So a rear tire 2" taller than the front shoudl put me there. 1" to get even and another " to lift me to a 1" stance increase in the rear.

I also think the shorty headers will put the collector in the engine comparment where I have plenty of room and the tubes can be remade for this short section to stay up high and tight giving me that much needed road clearance. I want no bottoming out at all, and I want to clear the speed bumps where I work. One is super tall, so that may be a challenge, but before the suspension modz I could clear it in the Elky with no problem at all.

Here are a couple photos.
With Goodyear Tires, the tall ones that hit the fenders.



With Nitto tires that are too small.


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A lot of the cheaper headers are made to fit a lot of different vehicles. I suspect that is why you are having clearance problems.
For what is worth I really like the stance of your car. Two thumbs up!
Radiator Hose, Mass Air Flow Sensor and Other Sensors Install​

As I am winding down a little with the heavy lifting I should be able to focus more on detailing some of these smaller projects.

So here are two installs that came with some challenges.

First is the upper radiator hose. I bought the Summit Racing corrugated steel tubing flex kit. It is universal and uses rubber adapters to fit multiple applications. The Elky upper hose ends are 1.5” on both sides. The lower hose is 1.5” at the radiator and 1.75” at the water pump.

I trimmed the hose and had a nice bend to it. It looked great, but after the very first startup the upper hose blew off of the thermostat housing and sprayed coolant all over the garage. I was lucky not to be in front of the explosion. So, after reading mixed opinions on this kit, I decided to return it and buy hoses that are more reliable. I will likely go back and add a hosing dress kit, but for now I am trying to get function.

Here are some photo descriptions:

51-Radiator Hose install-1 With the air intake tube in place the upper radiator hose has to pass over the top and then angle down to the thermostat housing.

52-Radiator Hose install-2 This is the original hose. It fits better than I thought, but was never built for this car and was modified to fit. It features rubber hose reducers to work as well. So, I wanted to replace it and I wanted a hose that did not rest on the air intake tube, which would transfer more heat to the cold air intake system.

53-Radiator Hose install-3 Dry fitting the upper hose. This is very lightweight and fully bendable. It looks great, it just did not function well.

54-Radiator Hose install-4 Here is the hose fitting into the thermostat housing. It takes on a nice shape and did the trick. I also bought the 48” version. This comes with 4 hose ends with clamps and enough tubing to do both the upper and lower hoses. But again, mine exploded and the lower did not have the right adapters to fit properly. So, I will be returning the kit.

55-Air Mass Flow Sensor-1 The mass air flow sensor is part of the ProFlo 4 XT package. It needs to be installed into the intake tube at least 8” away from the throttle body. It was pretty straight forward. Requires a ¾” hole, cleaning the burs and installing the grommet.

56-Air Mass Flow Sensor-2 Here you can see the mass air flow sensor installed. I also went with a traditional rubber flex hose that is 1.5” x 1.5” x 25”. It has a nice shape and curves up and over the air intake tube nicely.

57-Air Mass Flow Sensor-3 Here is the finished look. Everything in place.

The ProFlo 4 XT system comes with its own sensors. In fact, the FiTech also came with a sensor kit and so did the Dakota Digital (DD) dash system. In the past I used one sensor and but the wires to splice in so one sensor can feed two units. It never seemed to work quite right, but I never discovered the problem until now. While the plugs are interchangeable I noticed that the wires are different colors. No big deal. Most have a black and some other color. It seems logical that the colored wires should be together and the blacks go together too. I think the differences are actually bigger than that. Each sensor, while they look alike and fit the same threaded holes in the intake system, I think the internal resistance in ohms is different. The pins can also be different.

The problem I was having is that the DD always read around 140 degrees. I could hear the fans run. I knew the thermostat was a 180 deg and it just never made sense. So, when I did the splicing for this system, I used the original Edelbrock coolant sensor and spliced in the DD wires. The DD ran 140 deg and the Edelbrock amp showed the temp at 25 deg F. In fact I was not able to complete the setup tuning because the temp would not go above the required 165. After this discovery I split the wires apart. The Edlebrock now shows the proper temp. I installed a separate sensor for the DD. But, the one I installed was the FiTech sensor. I had a new one and it was in the garage. So, I did not think twice about it. Well, after installing it I noticed that the Edelbrock sensor was reading properly and the DD was still only reading 140 deg. So, this is when I put it all together and recognized that you must use the sensor designed for that device. Also, you cannot splice wires. This creates a problem with maybe not having enough ports. So, I still need to go back and remove the FiTech sensor and find that original DD sensor and get it fitted.

So, if anyone is piecing together sensors from multiple systems, it is important that each sensor be wired separately and the sensor must be matched to that kit. No swaps should be done.
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Engine Run On with One-Wire Alternator, Edelbrock ProFlo 4 XT and MSD 6AL Box​

Another major problem I ran into after the initial setup was a bad case of engine run-on. The alternator instructions were very basic. They did not really explain what to do with the original wires on the alternator or what to do with the external regulator. I poured through the forum, some videos and online instructions. I tried every combination I could find and nothing was working. The main issue was the MSD box. It is very sensitive to voltage that creeps into the system through the lamp indicator wire. I even had the diode installed which is designed to prevent this problem when using an original alternator with external regulator.

After hours of failing, to resolve the problem, I decided to rest for the night and give it another go the next day. After hours of more failed attempts including MSDs recommendation of installing a Chrystler dual ballast resistor inline with the MSD red ignition switched wire, I still could not stop the motor with the turn of the key. I thought I needed to take a fresh look at the entire wiring scheme. During this trial period my way of stopping the motor was to pull the red battery lead wire for the ProFlo XT ECU. So, this made me think that the solution may be to connect that battery lead to the ignition switch rather than battery. This actually worked. I was able to run the alternator as one-wire direct to battery plus a ground strap. Then I connected one wire from the battery to the horn relay terminal and that was it. The external regulator was removed and all the connector was left open. No jumper wires used like all the online tutorials said to do. I have not tested the charging system or amperage yet, but the key now turns the motor on and off. I also have constant power to the DD and it does not power cycle the clock like before.

So, this was a good learning experience if anyone out there tries to use this combination of one-wore alternator, MSD 6AL box and ProFlo XT system.
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