Ron is a self-avowed old-school car crafter. In 1968, he wanted to buy a 427 big-block Ford Fairlane, but they were "too expensive." He wandered down to the Chevy dealership where he discovered an L78 big-block Nova "that only cost $3,000—and it was faster!" He ordered the Rat-powered Nova instantly. The L78 option got him the 375hp 396 along with a Muncie four-speed trans. "That car was an 11-second car right off the showroom floor," Ron said—perhaps with a few changes like slicks and traction bars. He even raced the Nova in NHRA A/Stock for a short time but eventually gravitated to bracket racing, where the Nova ran high-6s in the eighth-mile and as quick as 10.20 at 136 mph with a Top Loader four-speed. Along the way, he's created a reputation in his area as an engine builder. As Ron says, "I can do as good as a professional who doesn't care," which may be slightly underselling his abilities. Ron has owned his own agricultural trucking company since 1977, but when he's not driving his truck, he's in the shop working on an engine or two. Where else would you want to be?
A. Yes, that's a Bridgeport vertical mill. When you have plenty of floor space, this little tool is very handy.
B. The big-block on the engine stand is a LS7 with aluminum C-port heads, an Edelbrock C454 Dominator manifold, and a Moroso pan.
C. The Nova now sports a set of 4.56:1 gears in the Dana 60 rear, running 29x11.5x15-inch Hoosier tires. His goal is to get it to run a 9.99. Note the Car Craft license plate in the rear window. Ron's had that same license plate from when we did the first Cruisin' Escondido story in the Feb. 1979 issue.
D. Back in the corner of Ron's shop is a 416ci Ford FE engine Ron has been building. He has a 1963 Ford square roof Galaxie 500 for which this engine is destined. He'll top it off with a Mercury 410 tri-power manifold and a Top Loader four-speed. Do you sense a pattern forming here with Top Loader four-speed transmissions?
E. The small-block Chevy crate engine under the towel is undergoing a rebuild after one of its cast pistons exploded.
F. That's Missy, Ron's loyal shop dachshund.
G. Ron bought this 1979 Camaro Z28 when it was three years old. It now sports a 400ci small-block and a four-speed. He says this is his daily driver and yet it still only has about 50,000 miles on the clock. Ron has also widened all four wheels and added Trans-Am four-wheel disc brakes.