West Coast Customs Chevy HHR at the L.A. Auto Show
This was not the year for trucks at the Los Angeles Auto Show. About the only excitement truck-wise came from Chevy, with the world debut of the HHR. And just to show how cool the Heritage High Roof can be, Chevy enlisted the talent of West Coast Customs to create a custom concept for the show. Here, the guys from West Coast Customs stand with their customized concept of the all-new '06 Chevrolet HHR that was revealed alongside the new production version of the HHR at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday, January 5, 2005.

Book Review
In the genre of automotive-enthusiast technical books, Chevy LS1/LS6 V-8s is destined to be a classic. The book's subtitle, "Modifying and Tuning Gen III Engines for GM Cars and Pickups," says it all. That is exactly what this book covers in outstanding detail and with a high level of accuracy. This is not the first book written about hot-rodding the General Motors Gen III small-block V-8s, but it is, clearly, the best one so far.

One reason for this is the author, Will Handzel, is a former automotive-magazine technical writer and currently the manager for General Motors' Performance Parts Program. Not only is he very experienced at writing the type of material in this book, as a GM employee, Mr. Handzel had unprecedented access to the people and information necessary for him to cover the subject with the depth you'll find in Chevy LS1/LS6 V-8s. Finally, Handzel's accessible, easy-going style makes the book as enjoyable as it is interesting and informative.

Another reason this book is a bang-up success is publisher CarTech's decision to use more pictures than it has in the past with books like this and to upgrade its printing processes such that those pictures are printed with higher resolution. As a result, this title is as good to look at as it is to read.

A technique Handzel used to illustrate the points he makes elsewhere in the book about various Gen III performance modifications is a series of four "demo" engine buildups. The first one, "100 Horsepower Anybody Can Install," by itself, is worth the price of the book. The other three include a 500+ horsepower street engine, a 600hp supercharged truck engine, and an exotic 1,200hp twin-turbo. Each buildup is a successive step in performance, complexity, and cost, and is explained in detail.

A really useful part of this book is the chapter devoted to tips and tricks experienced techs use to get Gen III engines in and out of Corvettes, Camaros, and light trucks. This isn't just a condensed version of factory service manual procedures. Rather, it is a collection of techniques professionals use to reduce the time and frustration of getting engines in and out of those vehicles.

In 1976, Bill Fisher wrote How to Hot Rod Small-Block Chevys. By standards of the automotive book trade, it was a runaway best-seller. A generation of Chevrolet enthusiasts became DIY engine builders because of that book. Today, nearly 30 years later, Fisher's book is still in print and continues provides Chevy DIYs with useful, practical knowledge on the Gen I SBV-8s. Will Handzel's Chevy LS1/LS6 V-8s will do the same thing for the new crop of Gen III small-block DIY engine builders and will do it with a similar level of success.

If you are intent on modifying an LS1, LS6, or any of the Gen IIIs used in fullsize GM trucks and SUVs or midsize SUVs, add this book to your reference shelf.- Hib Halverson