In the realm of automotive enthusiasts, Thomas Short’s three-door, hatchback Chevy Chevette stands as a testament to his passion and dedication to building something so cool and different. Acquired in 2000, this remarkable V6 Chevette’s journey began with an 18,000-mile, rust-free body. Completed just a year and a half later, the result is nothing short of exhilarating.
Under the hood lies one of GM’s most reliable powerhouses – a 4.3-liter V6, that has been stroked and bored to 292 cubic inches. The brain of this “three-quarter 350” is a COMP Cams’ roller camshaft driving a set of roller rockers situated on top of aluminum GM Bowtie race heads. But the real kicker? A Vortech V-1 supercharger ensures unmatched V6 performance. Thomas reports that the combination is good for over 400 horsepower, plenty of punch for this tiny econobox cruiser.
Thomas backed his boosted powerhouse with a TH350, three-speed automatic transmission. Thomas contemplated using a 200-4R transmission for improved drivability and fuel mileage and said if he were to do it over again, the overdrive would be the way to go.
It gets a bit scary over 100 mph.- Thomas Short, Owner
The transformation extends beyond just the engine and transmission. The front suspension modifications began with a pair of Corvair hubs, redrilled to a five-lug pattern. This swap was simplified since the Corvair hubs use the same bearings and races as the Chevette. A custom caliper bracket on the front allows for the addition of 1985 Corvette disc brakes.
The rear suspension now boasts a 10-bolt, 8.5-inch rear from a ZR-2, off-road S-10. The housing has been narrowed and fitted with Moser axles and a 3.08 ratio ring gear. A ladder bar rear suspension and aluminum driveshaft complete the ensemble.
Finding Room In The V-6 Chevette
A 13-pound dry-cell battery and MSD ignition power this beast fitted snugly into the available under-hood space. Thomas needed to forego power brakes, opting for manual stoppers to allow enough room for the supercharger assembly.
The interior of Thomas’ V6 Chevette is basically stock, save for a 1966 SS396 Chevelle rosewood steering wheel, which adds a touch of classic elegance to the interior. The factory speedometer has been modified to match the car’s performance, and now boldly reads up to 140 mph. The recalibrated inner workings are now in agreement with the gauge’s new, silk-screened readout.
Thomas faced a challenge with engine cooling, leading to the addition of an electric pusher fan in front of the radiator. Despite the extensive modifications throughout, the unaltered hood still closes, showcasing his meticulous ingenuity while making room for the V6 in this Chevette.
Driving The V6 Chevette
Thomas confirms that it is an exhilarating experience driving the V6 Chevette, “It gets a bit scary over 100 mph,” he says. “The front end begins to lift and it feels like it may lift off the ground and fly!” He concludes that a factory Chevette weighs right around a ton, and even with the modifications to his V6 Chevette, his car only weighs 2,300 pounds.
As exhilarating as this V6 Chevette may be to drive, it also created quite a stir when Thomas posted these pictures and information on the Steelies And Hubcaps Facebook group a while back. Steelies and Hubcaps is a private group, but if you love the look of pressed steel wheels and chrome covers, feel free to sign up to join the group.
As for Thomas and his dare-to-be-different Chevy Chevette, it appears he has built quite the driver with plenty of power in an unexpected classic body style. The Chevette’s light weight and short wheelbase made it a favorite of drag racers. Thomas’ car shows they can make great street-driven hot rods as well if you’re willing to think outside the box a little bit.