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Muscle Car Comparison - Midwestern 'Tweeners

'Tweener Comparisons

Photography by Marko Radielovic, Tom Donchez

OK, what the heck is a 'Tweener, right? Quite simply, it's not a street car and it's not a race car. It's somewhere in between-a 'Tweener. Usually, it's more racer than streeter, but the owner swears it's a street car 'cuz it has current tags and operating headlights and taillights. It might even be insured. We were at the Street Machine Nationals in Lima, Ohio, this year when we met these four guys and got their ideas of what constitutes a street car. Many are still carted around on a trailer, yet their owners insist they are street cars. Current registration and insurance don't necessarily make a street car. Whatever you label them, we like 'em nonetheless. We simply call 'em 'Tweeners because they're not purely either-just ask their owners. On second thought, don't ask their owners!

Road Runnin'Roadrunners were Chrysler's first stripped-down, no-nonsense musclecars. Defining minimalism, they came with a 383ci big-block and a four-speed trans as standard equipment. This particular example relies on a 440ci big-block for motivation. Doug Kelley, of Dayton, Ohio, began building this beast back in 1997. Packing a 0.030-over 440, TRW high-compression slugs, and an MP hydraulic cam in the bottom, and Edelbrock aluminum heads, Victor intake, and a Demon carb up top, Doug's Plymouth has laid down 364 horses at the wheels, and has run a best of 11.68 at 115 mph. A TCI 9-inch converter multiplies the torque in the 727 TorqueFlite, while a 3.91-equipped 831/44-inch rearend rounds out the drivetrain. Doug puts an average of 2,500 street miles on his 'Runner every year. Can a race car do that?

The SpecsCar: '69 Plymouth RoadrunnerEngine: 440ci big-blockHeads: Edelbrock aluminum, 2.18/1.81 intake/exhaust valvesInduction: Edelbrock Victor aluminum single-plane intake, 850-cfm Demon carbCamshaft: MP hydraulic flat-tappet, 248 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.509-inch liftPower: 364 hp @ 6,000 rpm (rear wheels), 433 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm (rear wheels)Transmission: 727 TorqueFlite automatic, TCI 4,500-stall converterRearend: 831/44-inch, 3.91:1 gearsFront suspension: Stock, 90/10 shocksRear suspension: StockBrakes: Stock drums front and rearWheels and tires: Cragar Drag Stars with P165/60R15 Pep Boys Futuras, front; 15x8 Cragar Drag Stars with P275/60R15 Goodyears, rearBody mods: Fiberglass cowl hoodPaint: Hemi Orange, by Tim Hyndel, Dayton, OhioBest e.t.: 11.68 @ 115 (quarter-mile)Cost to build: $15,000

Chevelle From HellIt took Kelly Howard exactly one trip to his local dragstrip with his freshly restored '71 Chevelle for him to be hooked-and not just a little bit hooked. Soon after he embarked on a journey to horsepower nirvana, the end result being a burly Chevelle capable of knocking on the 9-second back door. Despite the radical nature of this beast, including the 13.5:1 compression ratio, enormous roller cam, Holley Dominator, and loose converter, Kelly actually drives his Chevelle on the street and isn't afraid to put some miles on it. Kelly's heavyweight (3,860 pounds without driver!) was our Dyno Challenge winner in the normally aspirated category at this year's Street Machine Nationals in Lima, Ohio, pounding out 614 horses at the wheels.


The Specs
Car: '71 Chevy Chevelle
Engine: 555ci big-block
Heads: Dart Pro 1 aluminum, 2.30/1.90 intake/exhaust valvesInduction: Edelbrock Super Victor aluminum single-plane intake, 1,250-cfm Holley Dominator carb
Camshaft: Comp Cams solid roller, 286/294 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.775/0.748-inch lift
Power: 940 hp @ 6,800 rpm, 795 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
Transmission: Turbo 400, TCI 4,800-stall converter, TCI transbrakeRearend: GM 12-bolt, Strange spool, Richmond 4.10:1 gears, Moser axles
Front suspension: Stock, Competition Engineering shocks
Rear suspension: Stock springs, Competition Engineering shocks, Southside lift barsBrakes: Stock discs, front; stock drums, rear
Wheels and tires: 15x3.5 Cragar Drag Stars with P185/60R15 BFGoodrich TAs, front; 15x10 Cragar Drag Stars with P325/50R15 BFGoodrich Drag Radials, rear
Body mods: Harwood fiberglass cowl hoodPaint: Black, by Kelly Howard
Best e.t.: 10.01 @ 133 mph (quarter-mile)Cost to build: $25,000


Banzai Buford
This portly (nearly 4,000 pounds with driver) '72 Buick Gran Sport, owned by Tom and Debbie Jenkins of Champaign, Illinois, has run a best of 11.17 at 121 mph. That much heft requires some serious grunt to move with alacrity. Tom's Buford gets its motivation from a 0.040-over 455 sporting Bill Miller 11.7:1 forged slugs, a lumpy Lunati flat-tappet cam, and fully tweaked iron heads off a '68 430. A TA Performance intake and King Demon carb are perched on top while Kenne Bell headers handle the exhaust. Tom normally runs his GS on a mix of VP race gas and pump premium. Last winter Tom made some changes and is hoping for a high 10 on the motor before he whacks it with laughing gas.


The Specs
Car: '72 Buick Gran Sport
Engine: 455ci big-block
Heads: Buick production cast-iron, 2.125 /1.75 intake/exhaust valves
Induction: T/A Performance SP2 aluminum single-plane intake, 1,090-cfm King Demon carb
Camshaft: Lunati solid flat-tappet, 260/280 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.604/0.605-inch lift
Power: 640 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 600 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: Turbo-400 automatic, B&M shift kit, Coan 3,900-stall converterRearend: GM 12-bolt, 3.73:1 gearsFront suspension: Stock, Moroso springs, Competition Engineering adjustable shocks, Energy Suspension polyurethane bushingsRear suspension: Stock, boxed control arms, Moroso springs, Competition Engineering adjustable shocks, Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings
Brakes: Stock discs, front; '85 Buick Riviera discs, rear
Wheels and tires: 15x4 Center Line Pro Stocks with 26x7.5-15 Mickey Thompsons, front; 15x8.5 Center Line Pro Stocks with P275/60R15 Goodyear Eagle STs, rear
Body mods: Glasstek fiberglass cowl hood
Paint: Burnished Copper, by LK Customs, Peoria, Illinois
Best e.t.: 11.17 @ 121 (quarter-mile)Cost to build: Approximately $27,000


Street Super Stocker
Chrysler never built a '69 Hemi 'Cuda, but the handful of '68 Hemi 'Cudas and Darts have left an indelible mark on Super Stock drag racing for more than 30 years. Knowing these lightweight A-bodies mix well with the hemispherical wonder motors, Tom Hunsaker set out to build his own '69 version-the one Chrysler never built. Hailing from Springboro, Ohio, Tom felt that if he was going to shoehorn a Hemi into his diminutive Barracuda, he might as well make it one with some serious cubic inches. So, he screwed together a 528-inch thumper utilizing a Mopar Performance "Mega Block" as a foundation to house the 4.15-inch stroker crank, and MP 12.5:1 pistons. The aluminum MP heads were then treated to a home porting job and converted to a dual spark-plug configuration by Indy Cylinder Heads. Tom also procured a magnesium cross-ram for that nostalgic look along with a pair of 770-cfm Holley carbs and an NOS Pro Fogger for "insurance."

The SpecsCar: '69 Plymouth BarracudaEngine: 528ci HemiHeads: Mopar Performance aluminum Hemi, intake/exhaust valvesInduction: MP magnesium cross-ram intake, two 770-cfm Holley carbsPower Adder: NOS Pro FoggerCamshaft: MP solid flat-tappet, 310/312 degrees advertised duration, 0.605/0.598-inch liftPower: 675 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 625 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpmTransmission: 727 TorqueFlite, A&A 4,800-stall converterRearend: Dana 60, 4.56:1 gears, DTS aluminum girdle, Summers axlesFront suspension: Stock, small-block torsion bars, Competition Engineering shocksRear suspension: Stock, Super Stock springs, Competition Engineering shocks, MP pinion snubberBrakes: '72 Dart discs, front; stock rear drumsWheels and tires: 15x4 Weld DragLites with 26x7.5-15 Mickey Thompsons, front; 15x12 Weld DragLites with 31x16.5-15 Mickey Thompson ET Streets, rearBody mods: Fiberglass Super Stock Hemi hood, fiberglass front fendersPaint: Black, by Rinke Custom Body, Romeo, MichiganBest e.t.: 10.12 @ 130 mph (quarter-mile)Cost to build: $50,000

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