1500HP, 555ci Chevrolet
Bill Moorhead / Buena Park, CA
Want to make your car feel slow? Ride a fast motorcycle. Stripped of creature comforts, motorcycles offer a purer sensation of power and speed than their four-wheeled counterparts. So for a guy like Bill Moorhead, who’s built and ridden 7-second, big-tire drag bikes, most performance cars would feel glacially slow in comparison. That’s why he built this ’34 Chevy. “This thing is faster than the bikes I used to race,” he said. And with an open cockpit and minimal windshield, the sensation of speed and acceleration is similar. Set up with a very conservative tune, this roadster is a 7-second ride in its own right, and it is by far the fastest car this author has ever ridden in.
Alcohol smells cool when burned in race engines. Bill’s car has run on E98 for nearly a decade, so it oozes that pungent, sweet smell even when the engine is off. This fuel blend needs about a 6.5:1 air/fuel ratio to burn properly, so you can imagine just how much fuel needs to be injected into the runners, especially under boost. To keep up with the fuel demands, Bill’s using an Aeromotive A1000 pump to feed 16 Bosch 160-lb/hr fuel injectors. A Big Stuff 3 engine management system makes all the magic happen.
Knowing he needed to make more than 1,000 hp, Bill went straight to the performance aftermarket, scooping up one of World Products’ Merlin engine blocks. As it sits in the car, it measures 557 ci with a 4.50-inch bore and a 4.38-inch stroke Cola crankshaft. Carillo connecting rods and JE pistons complete the rotating assembly, and the compression ratio is 10.0:1. Benson Racing Engines performed the machine work, and Bill assembled the engine.
When Bill was putting this engine together, Pontiac Big Chief cylinder heads were the hot ticket for making a substantial amount of airflow through a big Chevy. Unlike production castings, Big Chief has symmetrical intake ports, which allows bigger runners for more porting and ultimately, big flow numbers. Bill’s heads were ported by Dan Benson of Benson Racing Engines.
D. Cam and Valvetrain
Turbocharged engines don’t need huge cams, yet we were surprised to hear that Bill’s solid roller Isky cam specs out to 270 degrees duration at 0.050, and 0.650 lift ground on a 114-degree lobe-separation angle. Manton pushrods actuate a set of T&D shaft-mount rocker arms
E. Turbos and Induction
Those are a pair of 76mm Garrett turbochargers built by Precision Turbo & Engine. The intake charge flows through an air-to-water intercooler mounted in the passenger’s footwell. Boost is controlled by a pair of HKS wastegates, and a Precision pressure-relief valve maintains boost pressure ahead of the throttle body. The Hogan’s sheetmetal intake manifold is a work of art, of course, yet excels at delivering the charge directly to the intake valves.
Here’s what Bill straps himself into when he wants to get an adrenaline rush. This is a ’34 Chevy roadster body sitting on a Dave Buckley chassis. He bought the car more than 10 years ago as a roller, and it didn’t take him long to put it together as it sits here. The twin-turbo big-block is backed by a JEFFco transmission and a 10-inch ring-and-pinion gearset built by Tom’s Differential using a Mittler Brothers fabricated axlehousing. He’s running 4.10:1 gears on a Strange spool with Mark Williams axles. Believe it or not, Bill mostly drives this car on the street—it has current tags. He’s only had it at the track once, and that was to test the two-step launch control; he didn’t even make a full pass. Given its horsepower and weight, this is an easy 7-second car, and Bill knows firsthand that it gets up to 200 mph in a hurry. The 1,500hp figure we listed in the intro is on just 10 pounds of boost. The parts can handle as much as 40 psi. Bill’s shopping for an electronic boost controller so he can experience that soon.