86 Monte Carlo SS!

Original Owner:
Paul Carreiro
El Camino Village, CA

Webmaster of MonteCarloSS.com

Updated January 18th, 2004

Return to Main Page
Current Status | List of Modifications | Future Modifications | Exhaust Audio
Dyno Graphs | Technical Tips & Articles | Pictures | Web Rings | Contact Me

Welcome to the page that started it all: my personal Monte Carlo SS page. This is what spawned MonteCarloSS.com. Here you'll find details about my 86 SS. The most recent project being the swap of the L69 for a high performance 350, along with a complete detailing of the front end.

Current Status / Project

1-18-04: Serpentine Belt Setup
I've been spending a little time each day on the project, taking my time. At this point the Edelbrock TES headers have been installed. I'll use them for engine break-in, then swap them out in favor of the Hooker 2050's I have waiting. The mini-high-torque starter is installed from TurboBuicks.com. The Edelbrock high volume fuel pump is also installed. Carb is in place with all the linkages and hoses connected. Cruise control and EGR solenoid are also installed. The most recent project is preping and installing the serpentine belt accessory setup. It's off of a 1990 Caprice. I've been test fitting, and cleaning the setup the past few days. I still need to figure out where two braces go, and pick up the new pressure fitting for the power steering pump to match the XH steering box. I'll also be swapping out the A/C compressor for now with an A/C delete pulley.

Alternator Interference Concern
I purchased a brand new 105 amp CS style alternator for the serpentine setup. The new alternator's rear contact is about 1/8" away from the valve cover. I can round off the contact to give about 1/4" clearance. That will probably have to do for now. Anyone else with a serpentine setup run into this? Closeup, Wide Angle

1-04-04: Engine Installed!
Image The big day finally arrived! Got the engine installed today with the help of my brother and nephew! Installation was a snap because of the easy access all the way around. Start to finish.. less than an hour. Sure looks great in there.. and FEELS GREAT finally 3 pointing the engine! Now the build-up begins.. near term items: Starter, old Edelbrock Headers (for breakin) and the front accessories. Image 2, Image 3

1-03-04: XH Steering Box
Image Long ago I obtained an XH steering box out of an F-Body donor from Crazy Bill. Prior to installation I swapped the G-Body pitman arm from the SS steering box to the XH box. This XH box is a quick ratio 12:1 box with stops for 16" wheels and is a drop in replacement (G-Body pitman arm required). I performed both the thrust bearing preload and pitman shaft "over-center" sector adjustments on the bench as outlined by Jeff Davidson here and in the shop manual. Got the XH Steering box finally installed today as seen above and here.

Engine Mockup
Here are the obligatory engine mockup images: Mockup 1, Mockup 2.

1-01-04: POR Frame
Image This is a big update with a lot of work accomplished. With the frame clean (as shown below) it was ready for coating with POR-15. I used their 3 step process, starting with "Marine Clean" followed by "Metal Ready". Finally, 2 coats of black semi-gloss POR-15 paint were applied. Here are more images: Right Side, Left Side

Motor Mounts
Image I took the opportunity to replace the motor mounts. The new mounts are Energy Suspension polyurathaine inserts in the original clam shells. I was really worried about the difficulty of getting to the bolts before I started. I came up with a great technique using a magnetic wand. Using that technique, I had the new motor mounts installed in less than a half hour! The following images show the technique.. starting with the motor mount bolt locations for future reference.

Torque Converter
Image I swapped the B&M Holeshot 2000 12" torque converter for the new custom built Billet 9.5" Street/Strip Lock-up torque converter from Mike Kurtz of Century Transmissions in Texas. An average looking torque converter on the outside, the inside is where the beauty lies. The 9.5's torque multiplication should really make the SS jump off the line and result in some good 60 foot times. I can't wait for that first hard launch after break-in! Here's a shot of the transmission bell housing prior to install: Image

12-10-03: Frame Cleaning
Right View, Center View
The past week has been spent sporatically cleaning the frame up. This has turned out to be very easy. Looking at the images above, it almost looks like it did at the factory. The welds are so clear they look like they were done yesterday! A neighbor of mine actually asked me why I had to weld the frame. He was surprised to learn they were factory welds. Would you believe that all I've used is engine degreaser to get it to look like that? Spray on.. wipe off and everything, including the original black paint comes off the frame effortlessly. No scrubbing.. just a shop towel was used. What little surfact rust is present now has shown up since I cleaned the frame. At this moment, I'm 75% done with the cleaning. I need to remove the steering box (to be replaced with an F-Body XH steering box with 16" wheel stops) to complete the remaining 25% on the driver's side (this coming weekend's project). Once complete, I'll cover it all up with POR-15 semi-gloss black paint. With luck, I'll be ready to 3-point the crate engine in place in another week or so.

Custom 9.5" Street/Strip Lockup Converter
Image The custom-built billet 9.5" street/strip lock-up 2800 stall torque converter arrived from Mike Kurtz of Century Transmissions in Texas today. An average looking torque converter on the outside, the inside is where the beauty lies. This should really make the SS jump off the line. I can't wait for that first hard launch after break-in!

11-29-03: Engine Removed
The big day FINALLY arrived! Today, with help from my good buddy JohnT, I removed the ol L69 305 engine! All went per plan with absolutely no problems. Having the front clip off REALLY made things go smoothly. Next on the docket is to detail the frame, suspension and firewall in preparation for the crate engine install. Here are the views of today's activity:
Right side at the start | Left side at the start | JohnT at the ready | PaulC at the ready | The big moment | L69 in the cradle | Thanks for the memories | Center view afterward | Right view afterward | Left view afterward | The Old and the New

Also since our last update... I went off the deepend and splurged for the SS. I ordered up a custom made 9.5" Street/Strip lock-up high-stall (2800ish) torque converter from Mike Kurtz of Century Transmissions in Texas. It should arrive this coming week. Mike (makurtz on the message board) is a great guy to talk to and very helpful. I also ordered a high-torque mini starter from TurboBuicks.com. That too should arrive this coming week. I also got in a shipment of POR-15 products this week to finish up the detailing of the frame. Finally, yet to be ordered will be an SFI approved flex plate for the crate (this week's task).

11-10-03: Front Removed!
Right View, Left View
A lot has happened since the last update. The hood came off, the front clip has been removed, and I've continued to deconfigure the engine to absolute bare bones. I decided to remove the headers to help make the engine removal a lot easier. I'm also re-thinking the idea of pulling the tranny with the engine. At this point, it would be a lot easier to just leave the tranny in place and remove just the engine. Here are some close-ups of the engine at this point: Left Side, Right Side, Center

Also today has been a day of discovery. I think I finally found the source of the mystery oil leak on the front passenger side of the engine. Up until now, I had theorized that the leak was coming from one of the bolts that holds the smog pump to the block. The hole for one of these bolts is open to engine oil. Well, I now believe the source of the oil leak was one or two small holes on the fuel pump. After removing the pump, these holes leaked oil. IMAGE I'll be replacing the fuel pump based on this finding.

I also confirmed that the short across the battery was indeed coming from the fusable links. Here's an IMAGE of the fusable links with arrows pointing to two bare spots in the wires.

I also took the opportunity to clean out the dirty heater box drain. After cleaning, was clear to see how a clogged drain can lead to water leaks into the interior. Location of Drain, Dirty Drain, Clean Drain

10-26-03: Bare Engine
Image 1, Image 2
Over the past week I've made great progress in deconfiguring the engine bay. As you can see above, there isn't much left on the L69. The headers and fuel pump are about it. That's an engine lift plate where the carburetor normally sits. I'll be removing the engine with the headers still installed. Throughout all of the deconfiguration, only had one mishap, a broken bolt on the thermistat housing. Not really concerned as the engine is coming out anyway. Next step will be to remove the front clip (fenders, nose and hood as one piece) to facilitate swap of the engine. Stay tuned for more updates!

10-21-03: Balancer Installation on the Crate Engine
Image 1, Image 2
Another big and significant step today that may seem trivial. The new Summit SFI Approved Street/Strip balancer is installed and torqued in place. An ARP balancer bolt is in place, torqued to spec values. This after a disasterous situation last year where I broke off a grade-8 bolt in the crank. It took quite a while to recover, after a failed attempt at using an EZ-out, I had to slowly drill out the bolt until the threads showed, then meticulously removed each thread with a pick. Completed the repair by cleaning the threads with a tap. Here are images from the repair job last year:

So as you can see, it's quite a triumph for me to have a balancer installed, and torqued to spec values!

10-19-03: SS in Garage!
Big step today.. the SS is in the garage. This may seem like a trivial step to many but it's a big step for me. This project has been 3 years in the making.. and until now, the garage has been full to the brim with various clutter. So getting the car in the garage is a big step forward. I'm hoping things will start happening much more quickly now. First, the tear down of the existing engine compartment, removal of the hood and front clip. I'll take photos along the way and we can share the experience together!

The situation that kicked all this off is the SS developed a dead short across the battery, originating down by the starter.. most likely one of the fusable links has shorted to the block. Rather than try to fix it in place, I'm using this problem as an excuse to drive me to FINALLY swapping the crate engine into the car.

I've collected more parts for the engine swap. I will be converting the engine over to a serpentine belt setup from a 1990 Caprice, which means a new Edelbrock Victor water pump is in order. I also have a Summit SFI approved Street/Strip harmonic dampner ready to go on the crate. The Hooker Super Comp 2050 headers are waiting in the garage! So as you can see.. a lot will be happening in short order (I HOPE!). In my normal style, I'll be documenting everything (the good, the bad, the ugly) in photo and verse, and will archive it all here for your viewing pleasure. Stay tuned!

THE ENGINE: GMPP Special Performance 'SP' 300HP 350ci Crate
Early in 2000, I was excited to learn that GM had found 12 of the discontinued "SP" Special Performance 300HP 350ci crate engines that were discontinued in late 1997. They were selling at a first come, first serve basis. I picked up the 4th last one. Some may ask why not just go with the 'SP' engines replacement: the 330HP Vortec crate that GM now offers. The Vortec version intakes do not have the possibility of EGR, and is hopeless for California Emissions. The 'SP' crate had the old 'traditional' style intake. The 'SP' heads do have exhaust crossover ports, which means the EGR will be fully functional. I have already had the heads fully performance machined (Pocket Porting, Multiple Angle Valve Job, polished). I swapped the stock cam with a Crane CompuCam 2050, and have added Crane Gold Race Full-Roller Rockers. I've done a lot more to the engine in the past few years while it's been on the engine stand. I photoed everything and will be putting those photos up soon.

Cooling upgrades:
I replaced the water pump with a high flow aluminum model from Summit Performance back in 2000. Turns out this water pump does not have provisions for the coolant bypass, so I had to modify the thermistat (drilled 3 small 1/8th inch holes) to allow some coolant flow prior to reaching operating temprature. At the same time, the radiator was removed for repairs. I took the opportunity to upgrade the radiator and heater hoses to Blue Goodyear 'High Miller' type hoses. This turned out to be a mistake. The Goodyear hoses collapse at wide open throttle (WOT) because they don't have springs inside. So I'll be switching back to more traditional hoses with the engine swap. The Summit aluminum water pump will also be replaced with an Edelbrock Victor water pump specifically designed for the serpentine setup.

Top Engine Cleaner:
One item performed on the SS back in 2000, was to use some of GM's "Top Engine Cleaner". This is the stuff you pour slowly down the carburetor while the engine is running.. then dump the remaining 1/3 can down quickly to intentionally stall the engine. You let it heat soak in, then start the car and rev the engine to blow out all the carbon deposits from the intake manifold / heads / combustion chamber. While doing this, a good amount of black smoke will pour out the tailpipes.. so be ready for that... try not to smoke out your neighbors. It's a cheap and easy procedure. A can of the "Top Engine Cleaner" can be obtained from your local GM parts counter for just under $5. The part number, just in case your parts guy has no clue is 1050002. I did notice an increase in pep and throttle response after performing the cleaning. It's so cheap, I plan on repeating the procedure just to be sure I got every little bit of carbon out of the top end. I highly recommend performing it on your SS.

Ram Air Box:
The 14 x 3" @ 110 degree "Ram-Air Box" air cleaner by Air Inlet Systems was installed.

When I first received the Air Box a fit check showed that the distributor interfered with the Air Box in the rear. I should have read the catalog a little closer, as this is expected on all Chevy Short Block engines. Air Inlet Systems does offer a relief kit that allows access around obstructions. After talking with the Air Inlet Systems Technician, I've decided not to order the relief kit.. and just cut a hole around the distributor obstruction. According to the Tech, if cut correctly, the distributor will seal the hole enough, and not loose too much efficiency in the air cleaner. He reminded me that there is already a 1% leak around the top edge between the top of the open air cleaner and the Ram Air Box by design. They have found that performance is actually better with this "leakage".. as it regulates the Air Box air pressure during a deceleration. There won't be much of a performance difference between 99% and 100% cold air being available to the carb. The only other modification I had to perform was to cut the trailing bend off of the passenger side intake snorkel to allow a direct transition from the snorkel to the intake of the Ram Air Box (see photo #6 below).

Here are some photos of the installation:

As for performance.. it's hard to tell from just driving around town. I can say that it does feel different from the open air cleaner. There seems to be more umph there on the upper end. When I finally get to a 1/4 mile track, I'll do some comparisons between the different air cleaner configurations and post results. This set up is certainly quieter than the open air cleaner. The carburetor "hiss" at idle is no longer audible.. and the secondaries roaring open during WOT are not as audible. In all cases, I can say it's better than the stock air cleaner.. both in audio (a little louder.. but not like an open air cleaner) and power gains based on the SOTP scale. Best of all.. it certainly looks cool!

Here is a parts list for this modification along with prices:

Future Paint Scheme:
I've got the new paint scheme idea painted up on a 1/24th size die-cast of a Monte Carlo SS. I don't think there is anything like it out there.. if there is, I'd sure like to see it! This idea was spawned after looking at some pictures of Benny Parsons' 1985 #55 Copenhagen NASCAR Winston Cup Monte Carlo SS. I viewed the scheme in negative to reverse the light and dark areas of the paint. In this scenario, the sides will be stock silver color with the stock SS decals. The top will be black. This will allow me to keep the door jams the stock silver color, and not have to repaint them. The T-Tops will blend well with this scheme too.
Check out these pictures:
I'm on the fence right now with this paint scheme. I'm leaning more toward a sold silver scheme now.. but decided to leave these photos here for reference in the future.

SSPID Sticker:
Here is a copy of my Service Parts Identification (SPID) tag on the inside of the trunk showing all of the RPO codes depicting the options that came with the car. I special ordered the SS from the factory back in January of 1986 with just about every option available (except the Aero option, I passed on it, if I only knew then what I know now! d'oh!). This thing is loaded! Notice the rare "UL5" code... "Radio Delete Option". I had a high end stereo system ready for installation at the time. Compare with your own tag!

Dynamic Valve Lash Adjustment:
I performed a Dynamic Valve Lash Adjustment on the SS. The passenger side took a lot longer than expected due to the accident of dropping the oil clip down into the lifter valley. Thanks to Ray Buck's recommendation, I retrieved the oil clip with a magnetic pickup tool. Boy, what a pain it is to work on that passenger side of the engine.

The Driver's side Dynamic Valve Lash Adjustment went a lot smoother. This time, everything went well... Murphy didn't rear his ugly head.. didn't drop any oil clips down into the lifter valley. Sure wish the passenger side was as easy to access!

Here are a few pictures taken during the operation:

I picked up a few EGR spacers (GM P/N 14031368) at our local bone yard. One additional 1/4 inch spacer is required to allow the EGR to clear the Edelbrock Elite Series valve cover which is now in place.

120MPH Speedometer:
I've been getting a lot of inquiries about the 120MPH Speedometer faceplate that I have ready for installation. I acquired the faceplate from another Monte Carlo E-Mail List subscriber who was parting out an 87SS. The only way you'll find one of these is from a donor 87-88 speedometer. Lauren Engineering does make a 140 MPH speedo decal, but unfortunately, it's in the older (84-85) color scheme, and won't match the 86 gauges. When I get around to the speedo upgrade, I'll have to remove the instrument cluster / speedometer, install the faceplate, then take the speedo to a speedometer shop for calibration. I'll be replacing /upgrading all the dash bulbs at the same time.

ZZ Intake Manifold:
I have a GM Performance Parts ZZ series dual plane aluminum low rise intake manifold (GMPP P/N 10185016). This is the same manifold that is recommended for the "SP" Crate Engine (350ci/300HP) and comes standard on the "ZZ4" Crate Engine (350/355HP). Since I have the "SP" crate for the SS, this was a natural choice over the Edelbrock Performer Intake. The GMPP intake is a little more radical intake, somewhere between the Edelbrock Performer and Edelbrock RPM Intakes.

ZQ8 16x8 Rims:
My new 5 spoke GM rims (GMPP P/N 12371218) finally arrived! They are 16x8 rims that came on the '94-'97 S10-SS truck with ZQ8 sport suspension. They are also similar to the '91 IROC Z28 rims (which have an incompatible offset for the Monte; spacers would have been required in back, and Camaro specific center caps). The center caps are red bow tie. These are very expensive rims individually (in the range of $350 each). Fortunately, with a little research I found them in the GM Performance Products catalog in "kit" form. You get four 16x8 rims (with the proper 4" backspacing for the Monte), four center caps and twenty lug nuts for a grand total of $646.43 list. Part number for the kit is P/N 12371218 (for red bow tie center caps) and P/N 12371219 (for gold bow tie center caps). You can order this kit from any GM dealer parts counter. The SS is going to look very sharp with a new paint job and these rims.

Ups and Downs in 98:
Life in late 1998 was a whirl wind of ups and downs. First off, I got married on October 3rd. While some may say this was a "downer", it definitely wasn't. Tammy and I are both very happy. Second.. 2 week honeymoon in Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea and Huahine.. definitely an upper! What a fantastic time! Unfortunately the downer came on November 3rd (exactly one month after the wedding) with the unexpected death of my new wife's younger sister Kim. She was only 33 and we loved her very much. As you can imagine, it was tough month.

Edelbrock TES Interference:
While under the hood today I noticed that the Left side A-Arm is apparently hitting the left side TES during extreme upward wheel movement. With the car sitting stationary, there is about a 1/4 inch clearance. Here are two pictures of the situation:
Is anyone else out there with a TES having this problem?
Any suggestions on how to repair the damage to the coating?

Another project that has taken some of my time in the past year is a 1974 TriumphSSpitfire 1500 that my uncle gave us as a wedding present. The good news is that the Spitfire is now road worthy, and has passed the tough California emissions test. Here are Before and After photos of my Spitfire restoration.

The challenge: To keep it California Emissions Legal! So far so good.

Completed Modifications & Repairs

Crate Engine Modifications

Future Modifications / Repairs

Exhaust Audio

The stereo recordings below were taken with two microphones set 8 feet behind each tail pipe, 2 feet above ground. Each recording was converted to a WAV file first (using stereo, 16 bit, 44 KHz sampling), then converted to MP3 format for condensing. Recording conditions between sessions was kept as close to identical as possible to ensure good comparability.

The following sequence is depicted in each recording: Start-up, idle, 1K, 2K, 3K, 4K, 5K, idle.

I recommend you download these MP3 audio files to your hard disk. If you don't have an MP3 audio player, there is a link to a good shareware MP3 player below.

Dynojet Graphs

Modifications / Technical Tips / Stories / Articles


Pictures of my 86 Monte Carlo SS

Contacting PaulC:


©Copyright 1999-2012, MonteCarloSS.com, All Rights Reserved