Mike and Corena Molgard
For some guys, busting knuckles on old muscle cars was something you did as a kid, eventually lost like the intensity and passion of youth. For other guys like Mike Molgard, working on new project cars in his shop has become a lifelong obsession. As an over-the-road trucker, Mike spends too much time away from shop and home. Time spent immersed in his machines is precious, so it might as well be enjoyable, too. The problem (if you can call it that) is that there is an ever-growing list of machines clamoring for attention. It's clear Mike's been at this a long time since CC can trace our connection to him all the way back to a feature on his '64 Lightweight Galaxie in our July '83 issue. Since then, Mike and his wife, Corena, have expanded their vehicular adventures with Mopars, Fords, Chevys, and even street rods. The Molgards aren't particularly brand loyal. The car just has to be cool.
A. Mike and Corena have owned the '65 Belvedere since buying it from its original owner in 1986, using it as a daily driver until the clock pushed a quarter-million miles. The Mopar has seen a roller-cammed 360, then a 440 with an even bigger cam, followed by a W5-headed R-block 395ci small-block that ran 11.07. Most recently, Mike infused the all-steel, 3,400-pounder with a stroked Mopar 427ci all-aluminum Sprint Car small-block with W8 heads and a nasty mechanical roller from John Partridge at Bullet cams. The B-Body's best run to date is a stellar 9.94 at 135 mph with 1/8th-mile trap speeds of a scorching 111 mph. On the engine dyno, Mike says the motor made 755 hp at 7,200 and 609 for torque at 5,500 rpm.
B. As you can probably tell, Mike's shop is expansive. It measures 30 feet wide and a bowling-alley-like 50 feet long, with an 18-foot double door on one end and a single car roll-up on the other facing the backyard. The shop is heated and insulated against those nasty Colorado winters.
C. Featured in an '08 issue, the '69 B5 blue Charger 500 is one of 500 built to meet NASCAR homologation rules and was intended for the NASCAR superspeedway that predated the outlandish winged cars. The Molgards' Charger was originally fitted with a 440 Wedge but now sports a thumpin' 487ci stroker Hemi and a 727 automatic. Mike yanked the motor for a winter cam-and-converter refresh.
D. Look closely to see the photos of the Molgards' '64 lightweight Galaxie and a great wheels-up launch shot of the car at the dragstrip. Below the photos is the original paper Car Craft license plate from our 1983 photo shoot. All of Mike's
dragstrip launch photos show his cars with the wheels in the air—as they should be. Mike has owned both a '631⁄2 and a '64, with the latter's claim to fame that of winning class and setting the record with a best of 11.71 at 117 mph at the '79 AHRA Summer Nationals in Kansas City, Missouri.
E. We couldn't ignore the high wheeler cycle that usually hangs on the wall in the shop. This one was built in 1898. "My dad could ride this thing with gusto...most teenagers can't," Mike tells us. These bikes were originally developed in the 1880s because the tall, direct, drive-wheel diameter produced higher speeds. These bikes literally fell out of favor after the development of "safety bikes" and roller bearing chaindrives. Another good reason for their fall from grace was a nasty big-city "sport" to shove a stick in the front wheel spokes, which would instantly launch the rider face first into the ground. This created the first use of the term "doing a header."
F. Corena Molgard's garage queen is an all-stock '07 Roush Mustang with barely 7,000 miles. "It's a lot of fun to drive, as near as we can remember!" says Corena. The Roush package consisted of a supercharger bolted to the top of the 4.6L SOHC mod motor that pushes out 427 hp. The wheel and tire package is finalized with 18-inch hoops and 275/40R18 tires.
G. The '55 is a Molgard "performance emeritus" member having joined the family in 2003. When new, it enjoyed a 265ci motor with a three-speed overdrive and 4.11:1 rear cogs. It's currently undergoing a full frame-off resurrection and will twist it up with Rat motor grunt—if the Muncie lives.
H. True veteran Molgard-family-member status remains with the '33 Ford frame and pickup body that Mike has owned since 1966. He bought it while in high school in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In that previous life, the Competition Orange pickup scorched the pavement with a 270hp 283, a LaSalle trans, and a '57 Pontiac rearend. Mike then installed a succession of bigger-bore variations—283 to 292 to the ultimate 0.125-over 301 until he bought his first 427 Galaxie. Then the '33 was stored at his dad's house "under an avocado tree" from 1971 until 1995. It will now receive a complete resurrection with a 4-inch, Super Bell dropped front axle and a full complement of Posies and Pete & Jake's pieces.
I. The 468ci tunnel-rammed Rat motor sitting on the floor is destined for the '55 and proudly displays a set of Reher-Morrison heads and a Jesel beltdrive. It will be backed up by a Muncie four-speed and a Mopar 83⁄4-inch rearend.
J. The full-length Moroso oil pan was originally used on a Super Gas/Super Comp big-block Chevy while the cast intake is for W7/W8/W9 Mopar small-block heads. The Diamond pistons are for a 440ci Wedge.