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Installing a DeWitt's Radiator - 1967 Chevelle

12/1/2020
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Cool it.

I’m the first to admit, I’ve never been a big spender when it comes to radiators. Over the years, I’ve been able to make do with a doctored up factory or parts house OE type replacement. For the most part, that thrifty method has worked out for me. Except the time it didn’t anymore. Over the years of fighting with a borderline inadequate cooling system in our Sedan Delivery, I’ve come to better appreciate a well-designed and over-built cooling system.

Shortly after learning that the world-class DeWitt’s radiator had become part of the Speedway Motors family of companies, I began to learn about their line of products. To say I was impressed is an understatement. The deep draw, stamped tanks replicate the factory look that I like, with the thermal and weight advantages of an all-aluminum radiator. The Black-Ice coating is just the icing on the cake.

Normally, it’s ill-advised to coat an aluminum radiator. Paint inhibits the ability to dissipate heat. That’s where Black-Ice comes in. Not just for air fresheners anymore. This coating allows heat transfer and is tough as nails. During my introduction to the line at the PRI show, I was encouraged to try to scratch the display model with my keys. I couldn’t do it.

That being said, I didn’t take any chances with my new shiny diamond of a radiator. The first thing I did after I took it out of the box was cut that box into pieces and tape them over the core. I also taped over the tanks. No sense in taking any chances with an $800 radiator. It still makes me cringe to write that.

Like a glove

One of the first things I had to do before hanging this work of art was to install the radiator saddle. That was when my fears about clearance were first confirmed.

Normally, on a big block in an A-body GM, you’d use a short water pump and associated accessories. The Vintage Air Front Runner system, employs a long pump with all accessories fully in front of the engine, which was part of what I liked about it. Nothing hanging out to the sides or over the valve covers. However, the clearance for fans is TIGHT. More on that later.

Back to the radiator. The unit itself fit very well, it’s got pre-drilled holes for mounting and fans. I opted not to include the DeWitt’s supplied fans when I bought the radiator. I knew that there may be clearance issues as they are rather thick at the motors. Something to note, the fan packs are not available from DeWitt’s separately. I can’t even buy just the fans. They must be purchased at the same time as the radiator. So plan accordingly.

The above photo is a little deceiving, the radiator saddle actually lays back a bit with the fenders installed. Leaving about 2.5” total for fan clearance. Which, with this serpentine drive, must be electric puller fans. It brings to mind one of the things Speedy Bill used to say all the time. “If was easy, everybody’d be doing it.”

A little sneak preview without tape.

That last photo doesn’t let too many cats out of the bag, but I think it’s finally coming together. Which reminds me of another favorite quote. This one from Dolly Parton. “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”

Glitz, shine, and color in strategic places, mixed finishes with the engine as the focal point. Like a diamond ring in a black velvet box when you open the hood.

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