It is said that, back in the 20s and 30s, you could tell the model of an approaching car long before you could see it, just by the distinctive sound of its engine: Ford, Chevy, Buick, Packard, Cadillac or Cord> it didn't matter. it didn't matter. Today, you can still tell a car by its engine, but probably not by the sound alone. The best way to tell a car from the 70s would probably be by cubic inches, though even then there could be some confusion. For instance, both Ford and Chevy made a 302 (and Ford does again) while Chevy and Studebaker (!) both had 283s. There's at least one string of numbers that would tell almost any gearhead that, "Something massive this way comes." These would be 396, 427, 454, and now, 502. Of course, the first three are the famous factory derivations of the Chevy Big Block, also known at the Porcupine or the Rat motor. Today, a new industry has become well-established, servicing the needs of Big Block fans with an even bigger version of this feared mill: A monster 502 cubic inch/502 horsepower set-up that you can have shipped straight to your shop, ready to go. Since it arrives needing only to be uncrated and installed, it has earned the nickname "Crate Motor." What a gift to Bow-tie hot rodders everywhere! Benchmark Classics, America's Hot Rod, Custom, Specialty and Muscle Car Playground, just off the Beltline on Highway 14, in Middleton, Wisconsin, has a car that lets you use two of that famous string of big numbers. It's an oh-so-cool 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 two-door coupe. This car, built as an original SS 454, now has one of those wicked ZZ502crate motors under the hood. This is a terrific three-owner SS, with shockingly low miles: just 19,457 since new. That's less than 500 miles a year since it came off the line! The 502 only has about 3500 miles on it. The car has silver paint, replacing the original light blue. When you see the car in photos or, better yet, in person, you'll know immediately someone made the right call with the color change. Plus it looks like a factory paint job and retains all the original sheet metal. The interior of the car is black, matching the black racing (or "Rallye") stripes running from hood to tail. There are both power steering and power brakes, but the original air was removed at some point. You might ask Benchmark to find and install an A/C unit. It has new shocks and a set of B.F. Goodrich Radial TA tires. That big crate motor sits in a good-looking engine bay, attached to a set of Hooker headers feeding a stock exhaust. The radiator has a slick set-up with twin electric fans, so there's no need for a radiator fan shroud. Covering it all is the SS specific "Power Dome" hood. When it came from the factory as a 454, it was an automatic transmissionequipped car. Today, all of that massive power runs through a Tremec T5 5-speed. Developed originally as the Borg-Warner T5, it's a great choice to mate to that big 502. This silver SS 454 is a classic muscle car, one that will appeal to those who want all the performance they can get in a vehicle that will be welcomed anywhere. It is sitting behind the big door at Benchmark Classics, just waiting for someone to light the wick and disappear down the road in a cloud of tire smoke. You might consider that joy of being that someone. Way BIG fun.

Year:  1980 or older
Miles:  15 000 - 19 999
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