Tag Archives: drag

  • West Coast Report 41st Edition by John Gilbert

    West Coast Report 41st Edition by John Gilbert

    Shake Rattle & Run — Gearhead Kid Builds Auto Restoration Empire

    WCE-41-01

    Torn from the pages of Street Rodder magazine, welcome to the West Coast Eastwood blog and consequently the 41st edition of the West Coast Report. For those that have been patiently waiting since last April 12 when the 40th edition of the West Coast Report last appeared, thank you for your patience. Mental patients, metal patience, artichoke smoothies, there’s a tech story title in there somewhere. Oh, and talk about cool the massive Eastwood blue tool cabinets behind the flames are located in Street Rodder magazine’s Irvine, California, air-conditioned tech center.
    —John Gilbert

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    Where were you in ’62? Eastwood founder and CEO Curt Strohacker knows exactly where he was. Curt was a 14-year old gearhead kid enjoying the ’62 Southside Winter Nationals and there’s a historic photograph to document the occasion. Wayne Bryant from Omega Photos snapped a shot of Curt and his buddy peering under the hood of a ’57 Chevy Bel-Air drag car known as “Shake Rattle & Run.”

    WCE-41-03

    The December 30, 1962 USAC sanctioned event happened once again in 1964, and has gone down in auto racing history as the indoor drags. According to Curt it was wilder than blimp bowling on blindfolded elephants in celebration of Oktoberfest. Okay those weren’t Curt’s exact words not even close, but when I spoke with Curt he said it was a wild event with cars crashing into the walls, and rubber smoke billowing through exhaust fumes so thick one could hardly see or breathe. The gargantuan building’s polished cement floors provided a slick surface that today’s drift racers can only dream about.

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    The Chicago International Amphitheater was the venue. Torn down in 1999, it was a massive structure built in 1934 to house the International Live Stock Exhibition. ¬¬In addition to hosting momentous bovine spectacles the arena was where Elvis first donned his Gold Lame suit in 1957, and the Beatles appeared on stage in 1964 and ’66. The reason cars were crashing into the walls was if a guy didn’t have his dragster pointing dead straight as he was going through the eyes he’d stuff it into the narrow doorway separating the Amphitheater’s cement walls. Incredibly the final stage of the shutdown area was an immediate exit out into the parking lot... lending a new significance to the expression, Holy Cow! To learn more Google “indoor drag racing” that will pull up a proverbial wealth of both visual and textual information regarding this most unique of all drag racing spectacles.

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    The grand spectacle of indoor drag racing is a testimonial to the hardcore passion Chicagoland gearheads have held for all things automotive since the automobile industry’s birth in the late 1800s. The first of its kind anywhere Eastwood opened a new store in Alsip, Illinois, that has become a destination point for anyone that loves automobilia.

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    Here’s a little something for the Shelby Mustang lovers out there a completely original unmolested example of a ’66 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350-H. It did have an engine change, but the original Shelby prepped hi-po 289 is still kept with the car in crate form.

    WCE-41-07

    In 1966 I was 14-years old when my mom and I flew from Los Angeles, to Detroit, Michigan to spend the summer at the family farm in Stockbridge. The first cars I spotted as our American Airlines 707 touched the ground was a Hertz parking lot full, and I mean full of black and gold, and white with blue ’66 Ford Shelby Mustangs.

    Source: May 1966 Car and Driver archived road test. “Shelby has contracted to supply Hertz with one thousand GT 350s, designated the GT 350H ("H" for Hertz). Most of these special GT 350s will have the new high-performance automatic transmission, although a limited number will be available with 4-speed manual transmissions for the do-or-die purists. Said puristi will have to join the Hertz Sports Car Club, the qualification for membership being a demonstration of your ability to operate a manual gearbox.”

    WCE-41-08

    “Finned, cast aluminum rocker covers and sump are bolted on, as is a high-riser intake manifold and a big 4-barrel carb with 1.7-inch venturis and center-pivot floats so it won't cut out in turns. This, along with fabricated steel headers and low-restriction mufflers, boosts the horsepower figure by 35, to 306 @ 6000 (vs. stock 271 @ 6000), and the torque from 312 lbs-ft. @ 3400 to 329 lbs-ft. @ 4200. Final touches include the rear brake scoops, a new hood with a big air scoop and NASCAR-style hood pins, plexiglass rear quarter windows in place of the regular Mustang fastback's vent panels, a cleaned-up grille with the Mustang emblem offset to the driver's side, and the stripes.”

    Have you ever called a Mustang GT350 that you spotted in public as a fake? It could have been you were looking at a ’65 as ‘65s didn’t have the plexiglass quarter windows, or brake scoops. Car and Driver in its May ’66 article spoke to the low quality of Shelby produced cosmetic components. “We also found fault with the rear seats and quarter windows. Construction of both was rough-and­ ready, and in poor condition after only 5000 miles. The upholstery was beginning to tear, the trim was starting to come loose, and rain leaked around the plexiglass window. The rear seats are none too comfortable, but, surprisingly, better than the last notchback Mustang we drove. But it's a sports car, not a bloody bus, and besides, few of our complaints would bother the man who only rented the car.”

    I prefer to gather restoration research from magazines of the day as I believe important details are lost to the memory of a current articles author... in particular recollections of an Internet wizard. “The hood and its scoop look the same as before, but last year it was molded fiberglass, this year stamped steel. Inside, the change is more pronounced. The '65 GT 350s had standard Mustang instrumentation plus a pod atop the dash housing a tach and oil pressure gauge. The steering wheel had a wood rim and considerably less "dish" than the standard wheels, and the horn was operated by a spring-return toggle switch on the fascia.”

    WCE-41-09

    Were the Hertz Shelby Mustangs the original rent-a-racer? “There isn't any significant difference between the GT 350 you can buy and the Hertz version. The standard GT 350H color scheme is black with two broad gold stripes—a sensational, crowd-stopping combination. Other color schemes are available, including the regular GT 350's white with two broad blue stripes. A trio of narrower stripes along the rocker panel are interrupted by a "G.T. 350H" nameplate behind each front wheel. All the Hertz cars have the "occasional" rear seats and "mag-type" wheels that are options on the GT 350. Incidentally, the "H" might well stand for "Homologated" if Shelby—or, for that matter, Hertz—wanted to race the car as a Group 2 sedan; the 1000 examples Shelby will produce for Hertz fulfill the FIA's minimum production requirement.”

    WCE-41-10

    “Standard high-performance, 271 horsepower Mustangs are delivered to the Shelby American factory near Los Angeles International Airport, where they are rebuilt to GT 350 specifications. Wide-base wheels and 130-mph 7.75 x 15 Goodyear Blue Streaks are fitted, as are trailing arms at the rear, a one-inch anti-sway bar at the front, and Konis all around.
    The front suspension geometry is altered, the steering speeded up, and a chassis brace is installed across the engine compartment between the upper shock mounts. The front brakes are 11-inch Kelsey-Hayes discs with heavy-duty pads; the rear brakes are 10 x 3-inch drums (3/4-inch wider than stock) with sintered metallic linings.
    Finned, cast aluminum rocker covers and sump are bolted on, as is a high-riser intake manifold and a big 4-barrel carb with 1.7-inch venturis and center-pivot floats so it won't cut out in turns. This, along with fabricated steel headers and low-restriction mufflers, boosts the horsepower figure by 35, to 306 @ 6000 (vs. stock 271 @ 6000), and the torque from 312 lbs-ft. @ 3400 to 329 lbs-ft. @ 4200. Final touches include the rear brake scoops, a new hood with a big air scoop and NASCAR-style hood pins, plexiglass rear quarter windows.” Don’t forget to watch “Turd Pickers” the History Channel’s new show based on a Beverly Hills family that makes a living mining gold from the sewers below the gold-paved streets of California.

    WCE-41-11

    Here’s the indoor drag’s run sheet from December 30, 1962. Pretty cool stuff, you can Google the car’s owner name and its make and come with some the participants that went on to become very famous drag racers. In particular Google “Shake Rattle & Run.”

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  • Texas Man Adds A Little Extra To His Restored 1939 Ford

    Hemi engine under the hood, jet engine in the trunk! (Photo courtesy KBTX.com)

    Like other car aficionados, Joe Wilkins brought his ’39 Ford to Doug Leopold at Classic Collision and Restoration in Bryan, Texas to rebuild the classic from the ground up.

    "Big project, no big deal, but this was a little bit of a bigger project," said Leopold.

    That's because Wilkins didn't ask for a "typical" restoration. Joe wanted something extra special. Besides the Hemi engine to be installed under the hood, he wanted an additional engine in the back...a jet engine.

    "Building this kept me young and it was a real break from reality in the laboratory," said Wilkins.

    Incredibly, Watkins sometimes uses his Hemi Jet Ford as his daily driver. "I've even got air conditioning in it, a stereo; I've taken it to the store to get milk and bread," said Wilkins.

    The tailpipe has an afterburner that develops thrust beyond what the car can produce through the wheels. No one's sure yet how fast this Ford can go, but Joe will tell you its cost was in the six figures. Joe plans on taking the Hemi Jet ’39 Ford to Utah next year to see if it can be first street legal car to hit 300 mph.

    Watch the video and read the rest of this story here.

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  • Hang up the Lawn Chairs and put on the Race Helmet- Dan and Amanda's '68 Mustang Fastback

    Dan Woods is a familiar face around Eastwood and he's actually made some appearances in powder coating posts here before. Dan runs his own powder coating business he calls D&W Motorsports. Dan's partner in crime is a long time Eastwood employee. Amanda and Dan are both really into classic cars and this is the story about their 1968 Mustang Fastback show car turned racer.

    Dan Powder Coating

    Dan tells us "This story actually started back in 1967 when my older brother came home from Vietnam. He bought a Highland Green 68 Mustang fastback. I loved that car so much that someday I was determined to have one of my own." In 1995 Dan was searching for his own 67 or 68 Mustang. He had his heart set on finding a Fastback, but so did everyone else, so he wasn't having much luck finding one. He broadened his scope and found a 1968 Mustang Coupe that had been sitting on a trailer for some time. He then did what any classic car fanatic would do and left a note asking to buy it. This method is always hit or miss and this time owner didn't want to sell the Mustang coupe and Dan's search went dry.

    Just when he thought the '68 coupe was a dead end, Dan got a call from a gentleman asking if he was still looking for a '68 Mustang. He went on to tell Dan he'd been at the bank chatting to the teller about selling his and she mentioned Dan had just asked to buy her sons coupe! Phone numbers were exchanged and Dan was now on the line with the seller of a '68 Fastback GT with a four speed.

    Once in the presence of the potential project car, it was apparent the car was in a bad state and the current owner obviously wasn't much of a mechanic. Dan agreed to buy it and drug the car home to disassemble. He decided to go through EVERYTHING the last guy had done to it. During this time Dan was going through a rough divorce and he used the Mustang for therapy. He spent his "therapy sessions" learning to weld as he finished replacing the floor pans.

    The plan from the beginning was to install a 500+ HP big block, so all of the the rust had to be addressed and additional bracing added for the power. He fabricated new patch panels for the spring towers, fabricated new torque boxes out of 3/16" steel, modified some Chevelle ladder bars and made custom frame connectors. The car at this point was 100% disassembled and he began tearing into the exterior of the car. Rust repair was needed on the quarter panels and other parts of the body, so Dan had to learn how to do body work with some coaching from a friend.

    After tackling the majority of the rust repair, bodywork, and suspension upgrades, he began customizing the car a little more to his tastes. Dan used a Shelby trunk lid and quarter extensions, but did away with the some of the chrome on the rear of the car. After all of this work the car was ready for paint and Dan had a local friend paint the car what he calls "Steve Mcqueen Highland Green". After reassembling the car he had the makings of a really nice custom '68 Mustang Fastback GT.

    Just like the car, the engine had an interesting story and involved Dan exchanging $100 for a 428 block, crank, and chicken lice... Luckily Dan solved the lice problem quickly and he was able to build the engine he had planned from day one. The engine got the full treatment and was decked, bored .020 over, ARP bolts and studs on the bottom end, Aries pistons for 11.5:1 compression, and everything fully balanced and blue printed. He mounted a set of Edelbrock aluminum heads, three Holley 2-barrel carbs, MSD ignition components and finally upgraded to a Tremic TKO 5 speed transmission.

    Dan debuted the car at his first cruise night (Chesterbrook) in May of 1998, three years after he started building it. The car turned a lot of heads and people flocked instantly. Dan and Amanda met and shared the love of classic cars and they showed the car together for some time, winning over fifty awards. During that time Dan was hooked on powder coating and in 2001 he opened his custom powder coating business. Dan's handiwork (and love for Eastwood products) shows all over the car including Eastwood under hood black in the engine bay and under the car, chrome w/ gloss clear powdered oil pan and coil springs, Ford light blue powdered strut rods, Ford dark blue powdered front sway bar, Mirror blue powdered trans case, bell housing, and timing chain cover, mirror red powdered front calipers and ladder bars, gloss black powdered front rotors and rear drums, and smoked chrome powdered rear housing and back plates.

    Eventually shows and cruise nights became mundane and Dan began thinking of racing the car after meeting some local guys racing in a nostalgic super stock series. Amanda helped him make the decision by saying "you've been talking about going drag racing again since I've known you why don't you do it!". So like that they quit the car show and cruise night scene and began prepping the car to race. Dan replaced the 406 Tri-power with an Edelbrock Victor 427 intake and a 750 cfm HP Holley carburetor and ditched the five speed with a C-4 auto transmission.

    Dan hadn't raced since 1975, but he was confident in his car. Dan and Amanda entered the car for an episode of the TV show Pinks!. After two days of racing Dan made it to one of the final tiers and got to race with host Rich Christianson dropping his arms to start the race. In the end Dan didn't make it onto the show, but he got very close! After that Dan and Amanda joined the 422 Allstars Super Stock racing class and were instantly hooked. Quickly the car began getting some "old school" touches to give it a 1960's drag car vibe. With some retro sponsor decals, pin striping, and a change in wheels and tires, the car really fits the "look" of a drag car from the 1960's now.

    Dan's first and second season he placed 16th overall in points. Each year they've refined the car more and more. Dan and Amanda are a true classic car couple and she has as much wrench time as some of the guys out there! She's helped pull the engine, bleed brakes, start the car initially after a tear down, load and unload the car from the trailer, etc. She's even working to eventually be a track specialist and data recorder for the 422 Allstars. Needless to say, it's obvious the couple that wrenches and races together, wins together!

    All the hard work paid off and in 2012 they placed 7th overall, boasting a best 1/4 mile time of 10.95 at Maple Grove Raceway.
    The car still makes appearances at some local shows and events (it attended the Eastwood Summer Classic this past year), but these days it usually turns heads first when it starts up. This is a perfect example of a love affair with a car and the ways you can still have fun in your classic car when things get boring. Dan and Amanda are getting some more engine work done this year and going through the transmission. They hope to break into the top 5 this year or maybe better!

    Check out Dan and Amanda's '68 Mustang Fastback in an upcoming issue of Modified Mustangs & Fords Magazine. Some of the photos throughout this article are actually teasers from the feature by John Machaqueiro!

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