BqUICK

Electra GSX Road Racer

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I am building a 1969 Buick Electra GSX. It is luxury grand touring car designed to cruise at 150mph. It has a Pee Gee Performance, Guadagno built 462 INTIMIDATOR, 535 Ft-LBS on the dynomometer. The chassis was built by New York Motorsports Hall of Famer, Gary Shaw. Gary died of a heart attack while racing his "Modified" at TIOGA Motorsports Park, Tioga, NY back in September of this year before the car could be finished. Fellow racer and Chassis Works owner, Dave Machuga, took the car last weekend and will complete the work Gary started and add the cage in 2003. The car uses a 4 link with a watts linkage. Versalles 9" Ford from Gary Tyler Performance, Gear Vendors Overdrive and a competition TH 375 long tail. 4 Wheel Disks. 7" ground clearance. She currently sits on Pirelli P-ZERO 335/35/17 and 235/45/17 with a 189MPH "Y" rating. The rims were custom made by PS engineering and are the Kidney Bean variety. They are polished and similar in design to the Riviera Road Wheels. They will have the inserts painted as well. The car should be completed in 2004 with testing completed for 2005 assault on the Silver State race she was designed for. The paint scheme honors the Tuskegee Airmen and the P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Plane they flew for a short time in 1944 before they received the P-51. Her name is "Faithful Pursuit"

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Wow........quite a handful. Be sure to post a pic of the vehicle and all the goodies (suspension and underhood....) once you get it finished !

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Now that is awsome. Great to see someone doing something creative with a full size. Looking forward to hearing more.

Questions , I'm not up on

It that a Buick engine?

What kind of suspension is that. Are there any links to learn more about that type of suspension?

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I bought this car in 1978, the same year I met my wife and its been in the family ever since. I started saving for a car in 1968 and in 1974 settled on the 1969 Electra as my choice. The Electra was the fastest nicest sounding luxury car back in the 1970s. They were legendary street sleepers with nitrous oxide injected BUICK big blocks and quiet exhausts. Back in those days 12 seconds was faster than most rods would go. By the late 70s there was a buzz on the street about a 10 second wheel standing green 1970 Electra. I have seen many such racers and was always impressed by seeing massive metal moving fast. The Electra did it with more class than any other.

My engine is a Pee Gee Performance built Buick 455 from a 1970 Wildcat. Scotty Guadagno used STAGE 1 valves and performed all the necessary oiling modifications on the motor. She displaces 462 cubes and puts out just under 500 HP. It has 11:1 Flat top Forged Pistons. the rods are original but the beams have been cut. Most of the parts come from TA Performance. As you know BUICK puts out a fatter torque band than any other big block of the period. Now people will tell you that Cadillac had 550 compared to BUICK's 510. Well have you ever seen or heard of a Caddy outrunning a 440 GTX? Or any muscle car for that matter? Rarely, only the Electra has the reputation for taking out muscle cars. They are documented at running between 15.8 stock down to a legit 10.90 in racing trim. (Ask Roberta V.) This gives you some indication as to why the 430 and 455 are so potent in a GS or other lighter cars.

The suspension used for my Electra GSX is a tubular 4 link suspension with a Panhard rod to locate the rear and coil over shocks. It uses 4130 Chromoly tubes with spherical "Heim" joints. IT IS CUSTOM FABRICATED$$$. Simply backhalfing the car and putting a "street or race" clip would just result in a fatality, perhaps several. A full bodied Electra needs a lot more rugged setup than what is commonly available for your garden variety muscle car, especially when you are running at 160+MPH and turning at 60+mph. Road racing is a vastly different animal because now the big sedan has to handle like a Ferrari F-50. The compromise is comfort. She will have a cage, be noisy, but will be an incredible sight to see at Watkins Glen or at the Silver State Race. This car will have a ride height of 6" front and 7" rear.

Right now she is off the chassis machine and sitting on her wheels with most of the back end welding completed. The body will go back on in the next few weeks after the front suspension is completed and the driveline is installed. Everything about this car is massive because of the weight and speed. The tires have the highest weight and speed rating available, the 4 wheel disk brakes are huge 12+ inch vented units, the Gear Vendors overdrive unit is rated to 1,200 HP and is mated to the TH 375 "Long Tail" version of the TH400. Allison,truck transmission builder, made the six bolt "anti-balooning" torque converter. JW made the flywheel. There is still a lot to do but I have the best people helping me. Its been 10 years of $, mistakes$$, blood (literally), sweat, and tears. We race in 2005! Stay tuned.

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Oh, now that's spiffy!

I'd eventually like to do what you're doing to a 70 Wildcat...first I have to get one, but whatever...minor details. I'm very interested in what you're doing with the suspension. I have a 70 LeSabre 455 that handles ok (for a boat <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />) but I'd like it to handle more like a...what was it you refered to?...ah yes, a Ferrari F-50. That would be so cool. Please keep informing us all of your progress, as it's very cool that someone is doing this to a full sized car. If you have any more pics of the progress, feel free to post them or email them to me <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />...my email is gobuickgo@msn.com

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This is quite interesting. What classification would that be raced under? Will you be lightening up the sheet metal somehow ? You go to Watkins Glen I want to be there.

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Hi,

There is no web site yet. I am taking some photos that I will develop in the next month or so. The old set taken over the years are not valid as so much has changed. We are in a rapid state of change right now as the set up has been together and torn apart 4 times in 14 months! We wont really know what the best setup is until we have run it around Watkins Glen, which is about 20 minutes away. The Electra GSX will not be ready to run there until more local road trials are completed. I expect that we will have a complete shake down at Watkins in 2004, go back to the chassis shop and work on a few things or fix what broke then run again. Once we are confident that we have a winner, the serious action will be in 2005.

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Be advised that this is very expensive as I have more than $6K in the back end alone and I'm not done spending yet. This includes the rear suspension, 9" FORD rear end, chassis, rims and tires. This does not include spares or the fact that we may have to move to Carrera coil overs.

There are other ways to get this done for a street BUICK and still get very good handling. If I were building this for the streeti I'd look at the rear suspension in a 1969 Riviera GS. The rebuilt Electra GSX suspension is similar, only hand fabricated by a pro-racer and race car chassis shop owner, Dave Machuga.

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Attached is a recently de-classified chassis photo. Fired Pee Gee Intimidator a few weeks ago, open headers on race gas. Positively thrashing pounding ear splitting sound. Rock solid, little engine movement, surprised the Chevy people around. They wondered how a "stock looking" engine could sound so pro-stock. Easy, the Quadrajet and Distributor "were" stock until Scotty Guadagno and Mike T. worked them. Also, Installed TA's timing cover with oil pressure adjust and electric water pump. Stainless 3" exhaust is being installed as I type. 32 Gal fuel cell mounted to new boxed rear rails. Replaced skinny competition engineering coil overs with SERIOUS Carreras. 250lbs/inch springs with adjustable rebound. Iron fist in a velvet glove.

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Hello again,

Been a while since I posted (I'm in Kuwait right now *sigh*) but I just had to post something once I saw this thread again. Hows the car coming along? Any new changes or pictures? Out of curiosity, what made you chose a solid rear end instead of a independent rear? Wouldn't an independent rear end give you better handling? Just curious. Well, back to hot weather, and crappy tent city!

Romy

err...Spc Frederick <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

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Romy,

Post #10 has an attached photo. I have attached a photo showing the GV Overdrive, TH 400 and the PeeGee Intimidator STAGE I. I really did not think we would have this many hits or interested parties so there really is no web page or lots of photos out there.

As for your questions, yes we have been busy on the exhaust system. The Electra has a few challenges to putting in headers. We used the TA Performance GS 455 headers which were good to start with. #1 cylinder and #3 cylinder headers contact the frame. #7 & #8 Cylinder headers interfere with the power steering box. You see the Electra has the box behind the axle where the GS, Impala, Chevelle, etc. have it in front. Dave Machuga always says "Our motto is 'Adapt & Overcome!' but we seem to be doing more overcoming than usual!" He used a Sawsall and cut the headers and pipes into about 12 pieces. He then rerouted them past the box. We had to heat the frame cherry red and form wells for #1 and #3 to clear.

Next, the transmission crossmember exhaust pass-thru humps were too close together. We took another unit from a donor car and welded extensions into it. We fabbed a 3.5" H section with a 3' balance tube and welded flanges into it. We ordered Rebuildable Stainless Steel Edelbrock mufflers 3.5"/3.5". transitioned to 3" and went 4' or so to the axle.

Here is where it started to get challenging! We were going to have to order (12) 3" elbos to fab the run of pipe up over the axle down, around the gigantic 32gal Fuel cell and straight out. We went to about 8 different pipe benders to see who could mandrel bend, but none in the county or for more than 100 miles in any direction could do it.

I mentioned my dilemma to a buddy of mine who drives a late model Z.I brought him to Dave Machugas to see the racecar and he told me that he knows a guy who works at a shop who bends pipe part time. He bent him some 3" SS for the back end of his Z. Well we drove out to the shop and the kid had quit. We got the forwarding number but there was just a message. I called for days and finally the kid calls me. We borrowed my friends 13sec. 440 Dodge Ram and hauled the chassis out 30 miles on 390. The 440 made one heck of a niiiice raunchy noise as we effortlessley pulled that Electra GSX chassis.

The really rough looking garage was behind a small plain slightly rough looking home. I meet the skinny kid and he is really excited about the car sitting there. We angle the trailer back down his dirt drive and he swings open the doors. Wow...the kids got this pipe bending machine that must be 20 feet long and has got to weigh as much as an Electra! CNC Milling Machine, Pattern Cutter, Plasma Torch, etc. He said that he always liked Porsches and wanted to make SS exhaust for them. There was a flat 6 on an engine stand and a 1968 or so vintage 911 Porsche out back. There was a really wild scratch built Vector type kit car in the back too, half done. Real creative kid.

How did you get all this stuff!?! I asked. "Well I just started asking around and one thing let to another..." Hmmm..Okay! Works for me. Come to find out he actually a sharp businessman and negotiated at company equipment sales for the stuff. He owns the property next door which is zoned commercial and he is building into another commercial outlet for his wife's business. You never know...

We left the car on a Thursday Nite and it was done on Tuesday. Those big stainless pipes were a work of art. The bends were so gentle and skillfully made that he saved 2' over my original calculations on pipe length. 8' on each side, 2 4' sections 1 weld joining them on each pipe. Here is the kicker...it only cost about $50 more than what all those aluminized elbos would have because of the pipe savings and the efficiency of his programmable pipe bender! 3' is good to past 700HP so we have room to grow! I am a happy camper! Now it was not cheap but it was worth it!!!

Trailered it back to Machuga Chassis and we weld on the flanges and fire the STAGE 1. Dave turns to me and says "Corning PD wont let you on the street with this!" It was still pretty loud because the Edelbrock mufflers are straight through. It sounds like a couple of Harleys with open pipes. Sounded great! I ran straight Thrush mufflers 22 years ago on the street. She had a 430 then. and two pair of balony cut 3" pipes exiting horizontally, at an angle behind the rear wheel wells. Remember, the 71 Buick Gran Sport and GSX ? Well you are just 20 so maybe you've seen them in shows or pictures. It had a nice option of chromed square tips through the bumper called the n-22. Doing this with an Electra will be "challenging" so Dave and i will again adapt and overcome!

Now, the independent rear! I'll keep this brief! IRS has a few benefits like lower unsprung mass and better control over uneven surfaces. The down sides are weight, complexity, and limited power handling. The original specifcation for this car called for a blower motor. The driveline, suspension, exhaust sytem are sized for equivalent horsepower. Gary Shaw and Dave Machuga both agreed that the solid axle was the best set up but both would have gone for a "quick change" rear. (I opted Gear Vendors overdrive with "sufficient" horsepower handling capability.)

Good luck out there! If you are serving our country out there you certainly have earned my respect. We honor those who served in a past war with this car's paint scheme, currently classified secret. We play the Ballad for Green Berets and Garret Trooper song at the shop. We respect the working man and the fighting man! (And women!)

God bless you and stay in touch!

Michael Joseph, II

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Fellow Buick Lovers,

Here is a December 02 photo of the Electra GSX chassis on the chassis machine when Roberta Vasilow, BCA officer, and more importantly GS Racer, came to visit over Christmas at Machuga Chassis in Campbell, NY.

Roberta has helped me to interesting Electra findings and connections for the better part of 10 years. When the BCA toured through Buffalo a couple of years ago I finally met her and her mom. They were driving Roberta's Red '68? GS ragtop. Many niice Buicks on hand and a serious party the next night at the Lodge on The Green, around the Corning/Gang Mills, NY area! That was fun!

Roberta, thanks again for your support over the years and your visit.

BqUICK

1969 Electra 225 Custom Coupe, Crystal Blue, Code D (now GSX)

1969 Electra 225 Custom Coupe, Lime Green, Code H

1969 Electra 225 Custom Coupe, Antique Gold, Code Z

1969 Electra 225 Custom Coupe, Burnished Brown, Code B (Discs)

1969 Electra 225 Custom Convertible, burnished Brown, Code B (Low 15s stock)

1969 Electra Limited, Coupe, Regal Black, Code A (Posi)

1970 Electra 225 Custom Coupe, Antique Gold, Code Z

1970 Electra 225 Custom Coupe, Bamboo Cream, Code (19K original)

1968 Electra 225 Custom Sedan, Burnished Brown Code B (Posi)

"...chromium plated brass knuckles!"

The Dead End Kids aka The Bowery Boys

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Yes I remember BqUICK, when he was a kid, nine yrs. old. And I saw in him his mechanical ability. Well the next time I met him a joung man he was deep into his true avocation, an affair with his deuce and a quarter,Now it is his lifelong pursuit. Amen....randolf.

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Hi BQuick Heres a (ORG 69 MY #1) <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> From day one she;s a Real Ride an Will be my Coffin when then/time comes, <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />I plan on arriven at the pearly gates in style or if the other <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />,well still in style HAHAHAHAHA <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Hope t o see ur finished ride some day <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />Good Luck TEC (Nevada)

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Hey,

That is a clean '69 Sedan! Thanks for your interest in the Electra GSX project. I cetainly keep people up to date with what is going on.

I talked to Dave MAchuga at Machuga chassis last night. He said that the exhaust rubber hangers are going on this week. We have been working to finish the design for the rear anti-sway bar before figuring out all of the final body penetrations. There always seems to be some snag but we will "adapt and over come"

BqUICK

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This is a photo taken yesterday at Machuga Chassis.

Its shows the latest progress, some of which was discussed previously.

32 Gallon Fuel Cell mounted

3" SS Exhaust

Carerra Coil Overs

The coil overs were re-mounted in new towers last night. Dave felt the old "L" brackets would not allow the adjustability we needed to attain proper ride height with the body on.

The bumper is mocked up as we cannot locate it properly until the body comes on.

Body to be moved into the shop tonite!

BqUICK

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My 15 year old son and I drove over to Machuga Chassis last night to find the 1969 Electra 225 body on the flatbed trailer backed into the garage by Dave's farm tractor. We hoisted the body up by the front and rear chains. It was an awsome sight to see that massive and heavy body just rocking gently as it was raised above the flatbed and the tractor rolled out.

We then had to use tall jack stands and a 2X4 steel tube accross them in order to brace the front of the body while we rolled the chassis back under it. We took the P-Zero Pirellis off and rolled the chassis with a floor jack under it.

Once it was in placed under the body we then lowered the body carefully to find the several interference points. The Gear Vendors OD, rear suspension towers, tubular 4 link brackets all interfered, not to mention the 32 gal. fuel cell which was removed for this activity.

Dave lowered the car in the front and we attached the forward ENERGY SUSPENSION poly body bushings. Naturally, they did not make ones for the Electra but they did for the 1970 Riviera, just a smaller number of them. I think we need 2 more for the Electra. They fit well and have that special metal rimmed portion that drops into the Buick frame.

As the body was closer to all the interference points we could now begin using the drill to locate sections to cut. I drilled a few locator holes for the OD after we peeled away carpet and sound deadening materials. There was some drivers' side floor rot through, typical, but everything else was ok. We cut out a panel for the OD, upper drive shaft loop, forward suspension brackets.

We had the whole crew helping out as we jockied the body into position. Tim, real big guy & Dave's son, Bruce, skinny but wiry, Dave's roll cage and chassis fab man, My son the carpet collector and me. Mr. Sparling of Sparling Auto, in Corning, NY, came as well. He advised us on how we could handle removal of the trunk and wheel wells for the narrowed frame and 14" tall JAZ fuel cell. That was the cleanest '69 trunk I had ever seen. They love to rot out under the power antennae but this one's seal must have held for a change. All of that virgin metal would have to be cut. I had my son collect all the sound deadening material, cardboard, and carpet sections and store them in our van.

While we cut the steel, local animals that had made the body their summer home, scurried and slid out onto the garage floor. I stepped on a foot long garden snake and Dave sic'd "Rebock" his dog on it. Rebe grabbed at it as I pulled jackstands away in a corner it was trying to hide in. He shook it a few times and wore the snake out. We all took a break from the car a watched Rebe do a job on that snake while Dave encouraged him. Several people have told me, including an ex Fedex guy, how mean that dog was. I have witnessed where Rebe would let you pet him and be real nice to you while Dave is around but when he isn't LOOK OUT. Count your fingers, he's not your friend! (That is a GOOD dog and protector of the home and business!)

Well, that was a big night finally after nearly a year of thought and fabrication. I have spent many nights a week after dinner till midnight at the shop. Today Dave and I are taking a day off our regular activities to focus on getting the rear panels cut and fitting the body on properly. It will be an all day non-stop party until that body is sitting as it should and all the openings are made. The big Pirellis will go on as well. I will have a camera this time and share photos in a few days too. Of course it will all come apart again for fine finishing, but I look forward to today.

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Just returned from Machuga Chassis. Dave and I put in a full day having worked since 10:30am. It is a little after midnight now. We cut the trunk floor out and set the body down on a few of the poly mounts. Most of the day was spent fabbing the tubs and enclosure around the fuel cell's perimeter.

I was very impressed with Machuga's mastery of forming metal, welding, and cutting. He has an english wheel, benders, bead rollers, who knows how many hammers with custom handles he also made.

I went home for a while and got the skirts and attached them. We looked it over and all you saw was tire that went on so far back and disappeared under the car. You never saw the end of the tire they were so huge. It was neat effect. Since this car was built to race, it may not look as pretty as some "made for photo op cars", this baby was born to run first and photos second! Our approach to suspension and tubbing is not traditional but it is effective.

The last entry had the wrong photo. I'll try again to attach the one with the fuel cell in place and the bumper mocked up. Oh and Rebe took a bite out of my leg. He was asleep and I walked past him going to the house to return some dish soap. He must have forgotten Dave was around and he nipped me above my Wellington boot. @#$*&$dog! Well, we made up when he got his marbles back and i guess I'll try not to get in his way when he's asleep.

Also, last Sunday one of Dave's racer friends was burned really badly while racing. We got the call this morning. She was driving a "modified" which hit the wall and flipped over. In doing so the fuel pump hose broke and sprayed 100+ octane all over her. The emergency team had to get the car in the right position to get her out and the extra time was more than her saftey equipment could handle. She was sent to a special burn unit, in Rochester I think. Dave's wife said its probably bad if they had to do that. I don't know the racer's name but lets keep her in mind and in our prayers. It could be any one of us someday.

God Speed,

BqUICK

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Click on "Attachements" above for photo of body on chassis. Note JAZ fuel cell and new suspension arrangement Carerra Chrome coil over.

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The main challenge is achieving maximum suspension functionality while trying to keep a functional rear seating area. Remember the "luxury" component of trying to build a functional road racer that can still seat 4 people. Since the new 4 link ties into the frame just below each rear seat, we lose about 3 inches of usable floor height. The frame clearance is 7" rear 6" front.

Dave was stressing over keeping seat functionality and I told him, remember the main goal of road capability. "Ground Superiority" if you will. Dave adjusted the link position to achieve "anti-squat" and we fabricated our enclosure from the optimum link position plus a little clearance for the swing of the arms.

Achieving anti squat means that under power the rear end will not react in such a way that the back end comes down or squats. You want the back end to rise, indicating that the rear end is being forced down to achieve maximum contact with the road. (To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction...remember?)

You see there is a theoretical optimal point of convergence forward of the suspension arms that if were extended, they would touch somewhere near the front seat. Its like imagining your arms are your links up to your elbos. You extend them in front of you straight and then make your fingers touch. It's that point of "virtual" contact you have to determine and set your links' angles to achieve that. Your torso becomes the "axle". If you twist from the waist your fingers rub. This is where the spherical ends at your "elbos" come in. they help to mainatin a constant axle geometry. You dont want it to twist, you must maintain Pinion Angle, in our case 4.5 degrees, so the rear end does not "steer" the car at high speeds! (Motorsports Hall of Famer Gary Shaw lectured me again and again about the importance of geometry and alignment being critical at high speeds. In a max G turn, the last thing you need is the "back end steering the car!")

The sheet metal fabrication continues...After the trunk floor, the back seat floor and bulkhead, and transmission tunnel for GV Overdrive were cut out; we set to fabricating enclosures for the areas over the past two weeks. The chassis and body need to be rigid so we are using .050" sheet steel to weld back into the affected areas. Remember that we are using Energy Suspension poly bushings for a much stiffer interface between chassis and body. (1970 Riviera bushings do the trick as there are no "Electra" poly bushings)

The wheel tubs are really neat looking because we simply split the original tubs and placed a gap between the halves. This will help to retain a certain "factory" look although they are now much wider than stock.

You would be surprised how much engineering has to go into rear seating. (Pull out the old MIL 1472 Human Engineering Specs.)It will be challenging to add the cage as well but Dave and I believe we have it figured out. Can you imagine four race buckets with 5 point harnesses? True Electra style!

Also, one of our technical contributors suffered a fall and required brain surgery. John's daughter informed me yesterday about the situation. He should recover but it will take several months of therapy. He was to helping us with some other neat high-technology stuff you dont know about yet. John is a great guy and invented lots of neat technology. I pray he gets better soon.

God Speed,

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WOW!!! This is amazing. I had a '69 Electra I used to street race in Milwaukee back in the 80's and early '90s and boy do I miss it. This was my 1st car and had been used to drive me to school from kindergarten all the way to college. At 100,000 miles I took it to Union Grove dragstrip where it went 15.78 @ 94mph in the 1/4. that was with 2 cracked pistons, single exhaust, 2.78 open rear, and 4200rpm shift points. Later I put dual 2 1/2" exhaust, shift kit, ported the intake, and made an open element aircleaner. I unfortunately didn't get it back to the track after doing the mods but I did beat almost every Grand National and T-Type I came across, even some with aftermarket chips and I know these cars were in the low 14's to high 13's. I know my wife would kill me if I brought one of these old land yachts home as I haven't finished my 68 Skylark yet so I will have to live vicariously through your project for now.

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Otter you have my respect. Racing an Electra requires strong character. Also, as far as I can surmise the performance range for the Factory 1969 Electra was somewhere between high 15s for the standard Big-E with single exhaust. High 14s were theoretically possible for a Special Order PX Code 3.91 Gear A/C Delete Option. Who knows how many, if any, were made.

In theory my Electra should do a quarter mile in the very low 12s or high 11s with the Detroit Locker 4.11 gear set I have. We will run a 2.56 gear for the Silver State Classic.

The Electra GSX "Faithful Pursuit" was designed for road racing so it requires lots of set up set up for the 1/4 including a change from the low stall 6 bolt ALLISON torque converter, 90/10 shocks, and other things that may not make the change over practical. (I still cant wait to take it to New York international Speedway to try a few passes!!!)

The new wheel tubs were designed for low profile tires. This allows us to save the rear seat. Tall slicks would be not practical in this application but BF Goodrich Drag Radials 315mm x 17" may do the trick.

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