Forget the rules of Queensbury, this is the way it happens in a street joust or on the track. The contender with the hardest punch and the longest reach usually wins-as it is on that long narrow strip of pavement that measures 1,320 feet. This is a drama that is played out almost every night of the week in the summer when the weather's good and the asphalt's dry.
Recently, the chassis dyno has given way to a different sort of hero who can lay down a strong number to the rear wheels. Not to take anything away from those guys, but there's more to a quick car than just big rear-wheel horsepower numbers. The trick is to be able to apply all that power in a way that results in a 10-, 11-, or 12-second e.t. slip. Sure, cubic inches and cubic dollars make those numbers easier to attain, but we prefer the budget approach. That's what these cars represent.
In our travels this past year, we've collected several examples of sneakers, creepers, and boulevard sleepers that will give you that unpretentious look and then pull off a number that always seems to be just a little quicker than what you can run-no matter how many times you race them. We've got Chevys, Fords, and Mopars in the mix. If you don't see your car here, then perhaps you should tell us about it. That will give us a leg up on next spring when the weather makes it tolerable again for the street sweepers. Check it out.
Make Mine Mach
There are two kinds of street machines-those that look fast but aren't, and those that look stock but can eat your lunch. Steve Engberg drives a mild-mannered '69 Mach 1 around the streets of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, that would never turn your head unless you were a Mustang resto-geek. But he snapped our necks around when his four-speed 'Stang rolled up the chassis dyno to the tune of 472 rwhp on the motor and 595 rwhp on a short snort of squeeze.
A quick investigation revealed a 463ci FE motor sportin' a Scat crank, Edelbrock ported heads and a Comp solid roller. (Beware the guy who carries his cam card in his wallet.) The coolest part is the NOS Top Shot nitrous kit that sits on top of the carb because a plate won't allow his shaker hood to clear. The whole mess is worth mid 11s at 116 at Cordova, Illinois' track on M&H street tires using Competition Engineering Slide-A-Link bars. Steve's motivation is his friend Brett Johnson, who owns a '68 Cuda-neither one likes to lose.
Car: '69 Mustang Mach 1
Owner: Steve Engberg, Mount Pleasant, Iowa
Engine: 463ci Ford FE, 4.250-inch stroker Scat crank, Ross 12:1 pistons, Comp 308R mechanical roller (262 @ 0.050, 0.674-inch lift), Edelbrock ported aluminum heads, Blue Thunder intake, Pro Systems Holley 1,000-cfm carb, NOS Top Shot 125hp nitrous kit, tri-Y headers, Dr. Gas 3-inch exhaust, DynoMax mufflers
Trans: Ford Top Loader four-speed, Centerforce clutch
Rear: 9-inch, Detroit Locker, Richmond 4.11
Wheels & Tires: Magnum 15x7, front; 15x8, rear; BFGoodrich P235/60R15, front; M&H 9x28, rear
Performance: 11.53 at 116.5 mph, 8 mpg
The trick is to look stock and carry a big arm. Matt Curlovic is not a math major, but he likes that kind of equation. Matt bolted together a mundane machine, a sleepy-looking tan '76 Nova that looks like something the local librarian would drive to her Sunday social. Matt took an evil turn and yanked the original 305 and replaced it with a Scott Shafiroff-built 598ci Rat that thumps on pump gas. A 1,095-cfm Demon sits on top along with 2-inch Hooker headers.
On the chassis dyno, this rascal pumped out 790 rwhp at 6,200, and that was through a TH400. Most surprising of all is the stock-looking corporate 8.5 rear axle, but what you can't see is the 4.11 gear. Matt needs to actually take gear away from it since his last pass ran out of rpm before he ran out of track. With an Unlimited fiberglass 4-inch cowl hood the only external clue to this Nova's capabilities, Matt's got this sleeper thing covered, especially when the Nova will run 10.30s at 130.
Car: '76 Nova
Owner: Matt Curlovic, Hartford, IllinoisEngine: Shafiroff-built 598ci big-block Chevy, 4.60x4.50, tall-deck Merlin iron block, Eagle 4340 steel crank and rods, J.E. 10.75:1 pistons, Comp Cams solid roller (0.650-inch lift), Dart Pro 1 CNC-ported aluminum heads, Dart single-plane intake, Demon 1,095-cfm carb, and a nitrous system soon
Trans: TH400, Coan 10-inch, 3,500 converter
Rear: GM 8.5-inch 10-bolt, 4.11 Richmond gears
Performance: 10.30 at 130 mph (ran out of rpm)
There's nothing like a big motor in a small car, and that's exactly what Hickory, North Carolina's Todd Howell did with his '69 Barracuda. Todd's best friend in high school drove this car, but when Todd took over, he decided it should drive him. Starting with a '68 440, it ended up at 451 inches with compression and some machine work by the legendary Herb McCandless. Todd also added a Mopar Performance cam, a little head work, and an NOS Big Shot nitrous system to help make the power.
In the best Mopar dragstrip tradition, Todd also added a set of Super Stock rear springs, along with an upgraded 727 TorqueFlite and a 4,000-rpm 9-inch converter spinning the driveshaft back to a set of 3.73 gears that complete the power play. With a set of sticky M/T tires out back, this little A-body makes excellent use of the big Mopar's torque to twist up mid-10s at 127 mph. 'Nuff said.
Car: '69 BarracudaOwner: Todd Howell, Hickory, North CarolinaEngine: 451 ci, 440-based RB engine, 11:1 TRW pistons, Mopar solid-lifter cam with 0.590 lift, Isky rockers, 2.14/1.81-inch valves, ported 915 iron heads, Milodon 8-quart oil pan, CCPA headers, M1 single-plane intake, Holley 1,050-cfm carb, NOS Big Shot nitrous plate systemTrans: Ed Roam 727 TorqueFlite, 9-inch, 4,000-stall converterRear: Dana 60 with 3.73, limited slip, pinion snubberPerformance: 10.65 at 127 mph "on juice"
Fair and Fast
You won't usually find a bracket car at a car show, especially one with a Dominator carb and a 514ci big-block. So when we spied Herbert Klemz's ET Street meats parked with the spit 'n' shiners, we immediately jumped off the golf cart to take a gander. What looked like a resto from across the fairgrounds at the Car Craft Nats was actually a former radio-delete six-cylinder driver that now has a big stall, a 'cage, and a set of dead-consistent 11.70 timeslips.
Taking a fast car to a show is worthy of street cred in our book. To do it, Herbert first had to "borrow" the car back from his daughter who used it to commute to school in the summer with the promise that he would build it into something fast. He knew he wanted big-block power, and at the time the Ford Motorsports crate engine gave you 600 hp for $6,500. Herbert says it's the best bang for the buck he's ever seen. The crate required the addition of some race-car-type stuff he collected from local yards and builders. A tool maker by trade, Herbert knew that to get the car to go straight, he'd need help with the chassis, so he took his collection of parts to Bob Fuller at C&F Racecars to install the 9-inch, suspension, and put the 'cage in the car. He wanted a big Ford with no compromises, hooking hard and driving like a Cadillac on the freeway. Now he cruises it around his hometown of Blaine, Minnesota, and to car shows in surrounding cities. With streetable gears, he digs being able to get on the freeway and loaf along then blast it on the track.
Car: '69 Ford Fairlane 500
Owner: Herbert Klemz, Blaine, Minnesota
Engine: Ford Racing 514-inch crate motor, 4.300-inch crank, 9.8:1 compression ratio, mechanical-roller camshaft with 254/258 degrees at 0.050, 0.647-inch lift, Cobra Jet aluminum cylinder heads, Victor Jr. single-plane intake manifold, Pro Systems 1,080-cfm Dominator carburetor, 600 hp @ 6,250 and 600 lb-ft @ 4,800
Trans: Lofgren Auto Specialties C6 with a 3,500-stall converter
Rear: Ford 9-inch with 35-spline axles and 3.73:1 ratio
Wheels & Tires: M/T Sportsman pancakes, front; M/T 28x10.5-15 ET Streets on Drag Star wheels, rear
Performance: 11.70 @ 116 through the exhaust with a full tank
The 5.0L Mustang movement that seemed to overtake the streets and strips of America in the '90s showed the hot rodding community that late-model cars can be deadly serious. But somehow the sight of a Fox Mustang GT convertible with aftermarket wheels, headlight covers, and a booming stereo still conjures images of backward baseball caps and gold chains rather than blistering e.t.'s. Applying that stereotype to John Garner's GT would be a large mistake for any would-be opponents. Garner has been a hard-core motorhead since his teens back in the '80s, but as an IT specialist, he tends to handle projects with a very methodical approach. He knew he wanted to enjoy top-down cruising, but he also wanted in on the 5.0 action at the track. Building two cars wasn't an option, so the cruiser would just have to get faster. So, starting in late 1997, John began building a Mustang that would be completely streetable-as in, daily commuter-while blazing the quarter-mile in single digits. To date, the heavily blown 347 has turned very low 10s, and John is still confident that a 9-second timeslip is within his grasp. Several staffers have driven the LenTech AOD-shifted 'Stang and can attest to its street manners. John swears he can milk 20 mpg out of it on the open road as long as he can control his right foot.
Car: '90 Mustang GT
Owner: John Garner, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Engine: Ford 347ci small-block using SVO R302 block, Probe crankshaft, H-beam rods, 8.5:1 pistons, Comp Cams hydraulic roller of undisclosed grind, Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum heads ported by DG Motors and fitted with 2.05/1.65-inch valves, Cometic gaskets, and Probe roller rockers; Vortec YS-i supercharger with custom cog beltdrive making 22 psi feeding a custom air-to-water intercooler/intake manifold with 90mm Accufab throttle-body, 95 lb/hr injectors; MSD distributor and ignition, factory EEC-IV electronics with Tweecer tuning software; MAC 131/44-inch headers with 3-inch MAC H-pipe and mufflers
Trans: Ford AOD, built and modified by LenTech Automatics; LenTech 9-inch 2,800-stall converter
Rear: Ford 9-inch housing with Currie 9+ nodular case, Ford 3.40:1 gears, and Moser axles
Wheels & Tires: American Racing 16x7, front; 16x8, rear; BFG ZR225/50-16 Comp T/A front, 255/50-16, rear; for the track, Mickey Thompson E/T Street 26x11.50-16 in the rear
Performance: Engine power approximately 1,000 hp at flywheel, measured 770 hp and 790 lb-ft at the wheels; quarter-mile: 10.1 at 145 mph
Plain Blue 10s
You have to push a car pretty hard to get it into the 10s, so the fix is usually a big hit of spray on a 12-second run to make that number and remain on the street. No such thing occurred here. Joe Martin's '65 runs 10.84 at 124 on the motor, then just because it's cool, he chooses to spray it to 10.16 at 133 with a 100 shot.
It's a 10-second big-block car with a plain blue wrapper. We kinda knew where this was going when we found out this car was intended for the street-as a sleeper. Joe was 16 in 1966, so we're thinking the years between teen and adult taught him a ton about what looks fast usually isn't. Now, his 25 years of wrestling with boat motors transferred to some car skills and allowed him to relive his youth. But this time he'll be teaching others the lesson.
Car: '65 Chevrolet Malibu SS
Owner: Joe Martin, Scottsdale, Arizona
Engine: '70 iron 454 bored 0.100-over, Eagle crank, 9.8:1, Comp Cams XE294H camshaft with 248/258 degrees at 0.050, 0.600/0.613-inch lift, Edelbrock RPM heads, Edelbrock Victor Jr. single-plane intake manifold, Holley Pro Series 1,000-cfm carburetor
Trans: TH350 with a TCI 3,500-stall, B&M Mega Shifter
Rear: GM 12-bolt with a 3.73:1 ratio
Wheels & Tires: American Racing 15x4.5 Torq-Thrusts; Goodyear P165/85R15, front; big P275/60x15s, rear
Performance: 10.16 at 133 on a 100-shot of nitrous
All in the Family
The Brynteson household has been infected with a horsepower jones since long before sons Steve and Joe came along, as patriarch Bob has been tinkering and racing for the past 40 years. One previous project was a '63 Chevy II that ran 9s on 9-inch DOT tires and pump gas, which should indicate that streetability has often been a prime consideration for Brynteson hot rods. Both of the current cars in the stable are capable of single-digit e.t.'s. Bob's Chevelle does it on motor and dips into the 8s on the spray. Steve's Nova is his first car, though he's had it for over 18 years now, and you can expect it to continue getting faster. The Brynteson Chevys will also continue to see street use, Minnesota weather permitting. Bob says he wanted to continue with car projects when his sons came of age, not simply as a means of spending quality time with them, but to teach them "something worthwhile." Steve maintains the family tradition of rodding, crediting not only his dad and brother but also his wife Tina and their three kids for helping to make it happen and keeping it fun.
Car: '67 Chevy NovaOwner: Steve and Tina Brynteson, Ham Lake, Minnesota
Engine: Chevrolet 406ci small-block, based on Dart iron block, Wiseco 10.6:1 pistons, Eagle rods and crankshaft, Comp Cams solid-roller cam with 276/284 duration and 0.704/0.660-inch lift, Dart 18-degree aluminum heads with 2.15/1.625-inch valves and Jesel roller rockers (1.6:1 intake, 1.5:1 exhaust), Chevrolet 18-degree single-plane intake, Holley 950-cfm HP-series carb, NOS 250hp nitrous plate, Mallory electric fuel pump, owner-made custom 2-inch headers feeding 3.5-inch custom exhaust, DynoMax mufflers
Trans: GM Powerglide by Jeff Gilles with 8-inch PTC 5,300-stall converter and ATI valvebody
Rear: Chrysler 831/44-inch A-body housing with Chrysler 3.91:1 gears and Moser axles and spool
Wheels & Tires: Weld 15x3.5 Pro Stars, front; 15x10, rear; VW-spec radials front; Mickey Thompson 28x12.50 E/T Street, rear
Performance: 650hp @ 6,700 rpm, 540 lb-ft of torque on motor; quarter-mile: 10.17 @ 132 on motor, 9.67 @ 143 on nitrous
Car: '68 Chevy Chevelle
Owner: Bob Brynteson, Blaine, Minnesota
Engine: Chevrolet 540ci Mark IV big-block based on Bow Tie block, Venolia 13.5:1 pistons, Manley rods, Crower crank, Comp Cams solid-lifter cam with 292/284 duration @ 0.050 with 0.785/0.745-inch lift, Dart 360 aluminum heads with mild porting and 2.325/1.94-inch valves and Crane Gold 1.7:1 roller rockers, Dart single-plane intake with Pro Systems 1,320-cfm carb and 275-shot NOS Big Shot plate system, Barry Grant 400-gph pump (280 gph for nitrous), Lemons 2.25-inch headers feeding 3.5-inch custom exhaust and DynoMax mufflers
Trans: Powerglide with transbrake by Trans King with 10-inch PTC 5,000-stall converter
Rear: Ford 9-inch housing with Strange aluminum case, spool, and 4.10:1 gears, Mark Williams axles
Wheels & Tires: Weld 15x3.5 Aluma Stars, front; 15x10, rear; Mickey Thompson 27x4.5 E/T Fronts, Hoosier 30x10.5, rear
Performance: Power: 614 @ 6,500 rpm at the wheels on motor; 892 @ 7,000 rpm on nitrous at the wheels; quarter-mile: 9.57 @ 141 mph on motor, 8.73 @ 157 mph on spray