For this TREMEC Customer Spotlight, we talked with Tony Grzelakowski about his 1970 Pro Touring Chevelle. Tony is the founder of ABC Performance, located in Imlay City, Michigan, and makes suspension systems, kits for engine swaps and accessory upgrades for classic GM cars and trucks. Tony’s Chevelle is a regular on the national autocross scene, especially at Goodguys and Optima Batteries/OUSCI track events. Equipped with a TREMEC Magnum 6-speed, Tony’s car is a perennial top finisher against guys like Danny Popp and Kyle Tucker. The Magnum’s gear ratios allow it to handle a full track day just as easily as an autocross course.
1. Why did you choose a TREMEC transmission for this car?
We chose our TREMEC Magnum 6-speed because of its quality, performance and durability. The higher torque capacity meant more power could be added to the car later on and the Magnum would be able to handle it.
2. What do you like most about your TREMEC Magnum 6-speed?
Shifting performance and smooth operation, power handling capability and durability. In a span of 5-6 years, we’ve refreshed it only a couple of times. As our program matures, the Magnum continues to be a rock-solid, reliable transmission.
3. What does the TREMEC transmission allow you to do that you couldn’t before?
We converted from a 3-speed automatic to the 6-speed, which really raised the bar across the board.
4. What other mods have you made to the vehicle?
The car is a rolling test bed for our various GM A-body parts. It has our ABC Performance Mini Tub Kit, ABC Performance Frame Box-In Kit, ABC Performance front and rear suspension, cambered floater rear axle and big brakes on all four corners.
5. Tell us about the engine your TREMEC transmission is bolted to.
The engine is a Gen I small-block Chevy, designed around a pair of Edelbrock Victor Jr. 23-degree aluminum heads. The block is a Dart SHP Pro Block, and the heads are port-matched to a Dart-Wilson intake manifold. We’ve got a 4.125-inch bore and 3.55-inch stroke for 380 cubic inches of displacement. We wanted something that would rev really high. The engine has seen 8,500 rpm with no issues. During our most recent dyno run – back in 2015 – the engine pumped out 505 horsepower at the tires. Currently, it has a Holley 750-cfm carb, but we’re getting ready to install a BigStuff3 multi-port EFI system.
6. Tell us the story about this car…single-owner, basket case, what have you done to it, etc.?
Our Chevelle had been sitting in a barn for 18 years when we got it. It came there from Arizona, where it was bought new by a little old lady and driven by her until she couldn’t drive anymore. It was Champagne Gold with a white top from the factory, with a bench seat and six-cylinder/TH350 powertrain. It had power steering and aftermarket A/C, and only 63,000 miles on the odometer. It had been partially repainted on one side where she’d had a minor accident. To build our Pro Touring project, we wanted as little rust as possible and no hidden issues, and this car fit the bill perfectly.
7. Is this the only TREMEC-equipped vehicle you own/have owned?
Yes, but we’ve got a 1984 Monte Carlo in the works that will be TREMEC equipped as well. We also have a 1970 GTO, 1971 Chevelle, 1967 Chevelle ragtop and a variety of other customer cars being built right now, all with TREMEC Magnum 6-speeds.
8. What kind of driving do you enjoy with the vehicle, such as autocross, cross-country, drag racing, track, etc.?
We enjoy autocross, cross-country drives, road racing, Pro Touring and Goodguys AutoCross. This July, we’ll be representing TREMEC for the fourth time at the Goodguys PPG Nationals in Columbus in the AutoCross Sponsor Shootout.
9. What kind of modifications did you make to install your TREMEC transmission?
We modified the trans tunnel to fit the Magnum and everything necessary to convert the car to a hydraulic clutch.
10. What mods/upgrades do you have planned for your vehicle?
Our future and in-progress upgrades: multi-port fuel injection, dry-sump oiling system, AP Racing brakes and Strange cambered floater rear end.
11. If you could give anyone who is considering a TREMEC transmission advice on making their choice, what would it be?
Do it! TREMEC transmissions are the best manual transmissions available.