When it comes to a classic Chevy that gets driven on a regular basis, it doesn’t make sense to go all-out on engine bay detailing. You can, however, make a huge difference with a few parts and some serious cleaning. Our 1964 Chevelle has a tired 283ci small-block underhood, and it isn’t exactly “oil tight.” It leaks a drop or two on the garage floor, but the main annoyance is the oil film that you have to wipe off every few thousand miles. Regardless of the fact that this engine is a little loose in the gasket department, we wanted to freshen up its appearance, so that we wouldn’t be too embarrassed to open the hood at our local cruise night.
The general idea is to do this type of engine bay detailing while you’re working on other projects. For us, we had part of the engine disassembled for cooling upgrades and an EFI install, so it was the perfect time to make it clean. We used basic tools and materials—simple stuff that you can get at the local parts store. We used semigloss black spray paint for accessory brackets, Chevrolet Orange engine paint for the block and heads, satin black for the inner fenders and firewall, and we rubbed some Calyx manifold dressing to bring the rusty exhaust manifolds back to life. Eastwood and Speedway Motors also sell manifold coatings and other types of high-temp paint that work well for this application.
Let’s be clear: This isn’t a show car, so we didn’t do a show-car-quality engine bay. However, our rattle-can restoration and the addition of some nice, new components from Holley, Vintage Air, and U.S. Radiator really helped this engine bay look great. Even though the old engine isn’t perfect, we’re happy with the end result of our engine bay makeover
Follow along with us as we take a crusty, bone-stock small-block and turn it into a presentable engine with just a few evenings in the shop.