back in the day



back in the day

Postby grumpyvette » September 26th, 2013, 7:02 pm

back in about 1968-74 most of my friends were seriously into building fast street/strip cars, most of us were either in college or holding down jobs or both,and we knew enough to be dangerous, if not overly skilled or knowledgeable and were for the most part willing to learn from the older guys , we had acquired a few tools , and minimal skills, most of us had found decent jobs and made some decent connections at salvage yards and local car dealerships or had friends with the mechanics and parts counter guys and had by this time found out about scam auto machine shops , and found the rare shops and the guys who actually knew how to build a decent engine!
THE POINT OF THIS STORY IS MORE ABOUT USING YOUR HEAD TO PLAN A COMBO, AND DOING QUALITY WORK, THAN THE RESULTS OF BUYING speed parts, AND EXPECTING TO BUILD A FAST CAR BY SIMPLY INSTALLING THEM, AND TO GIVE YOU A BIT OF BACK GROUND IN MY PAST.
at that time I had a couple older guys I hung out with, picking up skills and contacts.
One friend I had at the time was LARRY,M and he had a 1963 impala in which we had installed a string of different engines and transmissions, which we either built or purchased from salvage yards from wrecks (Larry was hard on engines,) and he seemed rather reluctant to learn from mistakes or from the older guys, and beyond belief actually believed the builds posted in magazine articles ,and it was obvious to me it was ludicrous to believe they were telling you the whole truth, even at that young age, I realized most of the builds were designed more to sell some manufacturers "PART DEAL OF THE WEEK" than tell you the whole truth, about what went on during the build.
anyway Larry M ,had installed a rather radical cam in his current 396 BBC engine (a 350hp version on which he had installed better valve springs and 12:1 compression pistons and an L88 solid lifter cam, and while he still had factory iron exhaust manifold he was convinced he had the killer combo.. with his muncie 4 speed transmission and had installed some 4.11:1 rear gears and slicks on his car, which in his mind made him the fastest car in town. HE WAS SURE HE HAD NOW BOOSTED HIS HORSE POWER TO WELL OVER 425 HP BECAUSE HE HAD CLOSELY FOLLOWED SOME MAGAZINES ENGINE BUILD.
my other friend LARRY B had purchased a 1965 buick special into which he had installed a 1970 caddy 500 engine from a recent wreck which he got very reasonably because his uncle owned a salvage yard.
LARRY B had his uncle help him with the engine swap as the salvage yard had a shop that did repair work,
(we were ALL rather JEALOUS)but he had used the original auto transmission as he could not find many speed parts or any reasonable way to easily convert the car to a manual transmission which at the time, most of us were convinced was required in any fast car!
what we did not know at the time was that LARRY B,s uncle was previously for several years a stock car racer and mechanic with a ton of experience. and that he had found and installed a different set of cylinder heads from a different year caddy V8 with smaller combustion chambers that boosted the compression to nearly 12:1 and forced LARRY B to run SUNOCO 260 gas which at that time cost about 60 cents a gallon while regular high test was about 47 cents a gallon.
the 500 caddy would easily smoke the tires but it ran out of breath and seemed to hit a wall , power wise at 4500rpm.
well eventually Larry M challenged LARRY B to a grudge nite race for $200 , that was at least a week too two weeks pay at the time for most of us, so word got around and most of us decided to help one or the other racer or at least watch the results closely.
At the time I was doing repairs on my 1965 lemans with a big block stroker and didn,t have a fast car, I was driving a HILLMAN MINX for daily transportation,and while I was very interested in the results I spend most of my time just watching and listening to the discussions, and was rather impressed with the work both guys had done, but in my mind I thought that the 500 caddy engine in the lighter weight car , although it didn,t sound nearly as radical was by far the faster car.
well the expected grudge nite race eventually came and the result was that Larry M did a 3500rpm launch off the line trying to get a big lead, with his slicks air pressure reduced to 12 psi and as a result he snapped a u-joint and had to be pushed off the track, and LARRY B,s car ran a respectable for the time 12.7second 1/4 mile time allowing him to claim victory, a feat that irked Larry M for as long as I KNEW HIM, WHICH WAS SEVERAL MORE YEARS UNTIL HE MOVED OUT TO TEXAS.
WE really wished Larry M would have had set up a rematch, because with-in several weeks time LARRY B had his uncle install a custom cam, port the heads and improve the exhaust, and lighten the car by several hundred pounds,swap rear gears,add bigger tires,and adapt a better intake, making it noticeably faster

Image
LARRY B,s car look very similar to this but was flat black primer

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I,m sure we all had friends like that at some point, those reluctant to learn, and the guys that just seemed to get things right and learn quickly
IF YOU CAN,T SMOKE THE TIRES AT WILL,FROM A 60 MPH ROLLING START YOUR ENGINE NEEDS MORE WORK!!"!
IF YOU CAN , YOU NEED BETTER TIRES AND YOUR SUSPENSION NEEDS MORE WORK!!
grumpyvette

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Re: back in the day

Postby 87vette81big » September 26th, 2013, 8:03 pm

Thanks for sharing the story Grumpy
I enjoyed Reading.
No one ever built a nice Caddy 500ci V8 around here and raced it.
Should have picked up at least one and saved it.
When Pontiac V8's became hard to find, Oldsmobile V8's became attractive.
They are now hard to find also.

After projects completed some day I will build a Street pump gas BBC.
Maybe a 496.
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Re: back in the day

Postby Indycars » September 27th, 2013, 8:10 am


Cool story Grumpy!

You have to watch out for those, quite, soft talking guys, they can eat your lunch sometimes. :)

Rick
Too much is just enough!!!

- Check Out My Dart SHP Engine Project: viewtopic.php?f=69&t=3814
- Need a Dynamic Compression Ratio Calculator: viewtopic.php?f=99&t=4458
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