Car video reviews:

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS with 1,200 Horsepower Duramax Diesel at SEMA

Classic American cars are in many ways at the heart of what SEMA is all about. Modifying them is an important part of the DNA too. Marry those facets, and you get something as wild as the PPE Chevelle.
PPE Chevelle 6 photos
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Chevrolet built a timeless and instant classic in the Chevelle. Even non-car people recognize that they're special when they roll by. Some of that comes down to the loud big block found under the hood of almost all examples.

The one found at SEMA this year at the Pacific Performance Engineering's booth is loud too. That's great because while we love builds like the HOT ROD Magazine's Project X, with its EV power plant, we're not sure we're ready for a future with a bunch of whisper-quiet classic cars.

Thankfully then, you'll be happy to hear that under the hood of this Chevelle is an engine that's so large we're a bit shocked that it fits at all. It's a 6.6-liter Duramax Diesel dressed in the brightest chrome possible. It's not all show and no go either.

PPE has been working with the Duramax drivetrain for more than 30 years. In fact, it's the motor they began the company focusing on.

"Founded in 1985, PPE (Pacific Performance Engineering) made engineering innovations the prime directive. Back then, our engineers significantly improved the horsepower and torque of the Duramax diesel platform with the PPE Duramaximizer." they say on their website.

The diesel found in the Chevelle features a pair of turbochargers as big as a full-grown, 10 lbs (4.5 kg) watermelon. Together, they produce up to 1,200 horsepower that's sent to the rear wheels only. That's exactly how it should be in our book.

Andrew Solus spoke on behalf of PPE and said, “This car is an absolute beast. We’ve done one other car like this and it was right at 1,000-horsepower, but this one is peaking out at just over 1,200... It has a lot of our products on it, including the oiling system, oil pan, and some other features we offer. It is a 1970 Super Sport, and it is quite a bit different than when it was original.”

Yea, we'd have to agree with that statement. The other car he refers to looks very similar to this one. It also featured a Duramax diesel, a manual transmission, and a custom tune to make sure the engine performed properly. PPE had to add stronger springs to the front of the vehicle to support the additional weight.

They also had to trim the oil pan by a couple of inches to ensure proper fitment. That explains why this SEMA build had such similar custom parts. It's amazing to see what experts can do with a little ingenuity. Today PPE makes performance products for multiple brands including Mopar, Ford, and others.


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