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Project Car Grudge Match

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When you work for a car magazine, especially with your sister magazines right down the hall, boasting among staffers is an everyday occurrence, and bench racing is elevated to a high art form. The big-budget boys over at Hot Rod are to the left of us, while the notoriously conservative Chevy High Performance gang is to our right (usually seen going to lunch in a pack), and a rare day goes by in which jabs aren't exchanged about whose car went faster or which motor made more power on the dyno.

Determined to put some of the trash-talking into action, we organized our very own inter-magazine grudge match shootout at Los Angeles County Raceway in Palmdale, California. The invitations went out, and accepting were Steve Magnante from Hot Rod magazine driving his '70 Duster and Scott "Scrouse" Crouse of Chevy High Performance running his '65 Mercury Comet, along with our own lineup of project cars featuring SuperNova with The King behind wheel and our '86 Mustang with driving duties handed over to FNG Marko Radielovic--who we learned needs some practice behind the wheel of a four-speed car (hey, Centerforce, we think we need a new clutch).

Since all four cars are built with similar parts and have run e.t.'s in the mid-12s or faster, we ran a heads-up, run-what-ya-brung format with no real rules or restrictions.After the ambulance and fire crew were on the scene, we scheduled an hour of testing proceeded by three rounds of qualifying. We're humbled to admit that Hot Rod's Steve Magnante won the Shootout by holeshotting the Car Craft staff, but at least we posted the fastest e.t.

Chevy High Performance
Car: '65 Mercury Comet 202
Owner: Scott "Scrouse" Crouse
Engine: 347 ci, production block, 10.0:1 compression, Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads, Victor Jr. intake manifold, Holley 750-cfm HP series carb, 15⁄8-inch Hooker Super Comp headers, MSD 6AL ignition
Cam: Comp Cams solid roller with 242/248 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.609/0.616-inch lift, 112-degree lobe separation angle
Drivetrain: Tremec TKO five-speed, 9-inch rearend, 4.11:1 gears, 31-spline axles
Chassis: Stock leaf springs with Cal Tracs bars
Body: Wimbledon white, Crites fiberglass hood
Interior: Factory stock, bucket front seats, lap-style safety belts
Wheels: 15x6 Center Line Tel Star's with 165R15 runners, front; custom 15x8 rally wheels with 26x10-15 Mickey Thompson ET Drags, rear
Favorite racers: Mr. Four-Speed Ronnie Sox, Dyno Don Nicholson
Free time: Wrench, research engines, surf, girlfriend
Nicknames: Scrouse, Scotty, Seaweed head, Mr. Five-Speed
Thanks: Andy Leeka, Don Crouse
Sponsors: Himself

Hot Rod
Car: '70 Plymouth Duster
Owner: Steve Magnante
Engine: Mopar Performance 10.0:1 360 crate short-block, Edelbrock Performer RPM closed-chamber aluminum heads, Comp Cams 1.5:1 Magnum roller rockers, Isky 3⁄8-inch chrome-moly pushrods, Edelbrock Torker II single-plane intake manifold, 800-cfm Edelbrock Performer carburetor, Hooker Super Competition 15⁄8 headers, ACCEL 300+ ignition, Jacobs Energy Core plug wires, Milodon high-volume water pump, Milodon high-volume oil pump, Milodon 7-quart oil pan
Cam: Isky 280 Mega hydraulic flat-tappet, 232/232 duration @ 0.050-inch lift (280/280 advertised), 0.485/0.485-inch lift, 64-degree overlap, 108-degree lobe separation angle
Drivetrain: TCI full-manual 727 TorqueFlite, TCI 3500 Street Fighter converter, TCI externally balanced 360 Mopar flexplate, 83⁄4 Sure Grip with DTS 3.91 gears, Chrysler 7290 yoke, Green nonadjustable axle bearings, Moser 31-spline alloy axles
Chassis: '74 Dart front disc brakes, 10x13⁄4 rear drums, Slant Six front torsion bars, M.P. Super Stock rear leaf springs, M.P. adjustable pinion snubber, Competition Engineering adjustable front drag shocks, M.P. 50/50 extra-length rear shocks
Body: Butt Cookie Brown, all-steel body except fiberglass Poston Stage 2 Buick hoodscoop, trunk-mounted battery box
Interior: Rear seat, heater, headliner and door panels removed; front bench seat replaced by single A100 Dodge van bucket seat, three-point seatbelt
Wheels: 15x4.5 Cragar S/S with Coker 6.40-15 BFGoodrich bias-plies, front; Chrysler 15x7 stamped-steel rear wheels with M&H 27x10-15 slicks, rear
Favorite racers: The Ramchargers' Jim Thornton, Ronnie Sox, Jungle Jim Liberman
Free time: Build cars, race cars, feed cats
Nicknames: Magneto, Glypton X-10-B
Thanks: Pick-A-Part
Sponsors: Budweiser, Chuck-E-Cheese

Car Craft
Car: '86 Ford Mustang
Hired Hand: Marko Radielovic
Owner: Matt King
Engine: 302 ci, production block, 10.0:1 compression, AFR 165cc heads, Victor Jr. intake manifold, Holley 750 DP, 13⁄4-inch BBK headers, MSD Digital 6 ignition
Cam: Comp Cams hydraulic roller with 232/244 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.565/0.580-inch lift, 114-degree lobe separation angle
Drivetrain: Liberty's Pro Shifted Ford Top Loader four-speed, Ford 8.8-inch rearend, 4.11:1 gears, 33-spline axles
Chassis: Six-point rollbar with custom Fast Track Performance subframe connectors and Metro upper/lower control arms
Body: Cervinis 4-inch fiberglass cowl hood
Interior: Factory bucket seats, Crow Enterprizes five-point harnesses
Wheels: 15x3.5 Weld Wheels Drag Lites with Mickey Thompson front runners, front; 15x10 Weld Wheels Drag Lites with 28x10.5-15 Mickey Thompson ET Drags, rear
Favorite racers: Ronnie Sox and Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins
Free time: "Free time? Wrench, write, wrench, write, wrench...notice a pattern?"
Nicknames: FNG
Thanks: The world
Sponsors: King Matt

Car Craft SuperNova
Car: '71 Chevy Nova
Owner: Matt King
Engine: 383 ci stroker with factory four-bolt-main block, Scat cast-steel crank, stock GM 5.7-inch forged rods, Air Flow Research 195cc heads angle-milled to 58cc chambers, 11.25:1 compression, Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake, Holley 750-cfm HP series carb, Hooker Super Comp 17⁄8-inch-primary headers, MSD ready-to-run billet
Cam: Comp Cams Magnum solid flat-tappet with 248/248 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift, 0.525/0/525-inch lift with 1.5:1 rockers, 110-degree lobe separation angle
Drivetrain: GM TH350 with B&M Holeshot 3000 converter, Strange Dana 60 rearend with Strange 35-spline S/S axles, 4.10:1 gears, and Detroit Locker
Chassis: Stock monoleaf springs with Competition Engineering traction bars and Rancho RS9000X rear shocks
Body: Stock with rusty bumpers
Interior: Stock bench front seat, lap-style safety belts
Wheels: 15x4 Wheel Vintiques Rally with 165R15 Futura Euro Metrics, front; 15x7 GM steel wheels with 28x9.0-15 Mickey Thompson ET Drags, rear
Favorite racers: Don Garlits, Richard Petty
Free time: None
Nicknames: The King, Little Daddy
Thanks: To my wife Erin for letting me destroy the driveway building the SuperNova
Sponsors: Car Craft magazine CC

The Records
Low e.t.
King Matt, 11.77
High mph
Scott Crouse, 113.99
Best 60-foot
Scott Crouse, 1.64
Quickest reaction time
Steve Magnante, 0.521

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Qualifying Order
1. King Matt'71 Nova11.77113
2. Scott Crouse'65 Comet11.88 113
3. Steve Magnante'70 Duster12.48107
4. Marko Radielovic '86 Mustang13.25104
Car Craft