Having always been one to enjoy change in an attempt to find "new ground," it's about time to expand the "envelope." By that I mean it's time to find something new and exciting for the pages of STREET RODDER--it's time to expand (My waistband, however, has done enough of that already!). And this isn't just change for change's sake, as that generally doesn't work.
For starters, I think it's probably safe to say that all of us read more than one car magazine. I know I do. "Other" titles are probably about different types of cars and not street rods. I have always enjoyed reading Car and Driver, Road & Track, and several of our sister publications like Motor Trend and Automobile. What is a staple of these titles is uncharted editorial in rodding magazines--the road test. (Although I will admit that Rod & Custom has, and currently is, dabbling in these "waters" with their Ego-Rama Challenge.) I believe there is more that can be done that will not only prove entertaining but also enlightening. So here goes. What would you say if the staff of SRM were to "sweet" talk several manufacturers into letting us road test their cars over a prolonged period of time? The idea would be to gain some real feedback that we could share with you. In fact, not only would there be extended road tests but we would also select from you, the rodding public, everyday cars to run through a series of tests. Tests would include, but not be limited to, 1/8-mile acceleration, 50-80-mph acceleration, 0-60-0 acceleration/braking, a slalom course (based on six cones set 70 feet apart), and a 200-foot skidpad. Where possible we would also place these cars on chassis dynos to get horsepower and torque figures. We'd also be able to get some great data on just how much horsepower it takes to operate an automatic versus manual trans and that sort of info.
By now I am sure you have noted the photo accompanying this editorial. The rod pictured is your basic '32 Ford highboy roadster. It was built by the staff at Alloway's Hot Rod Shop in Louisville, Tennessee. It's based on a Rat's 'Glass fiberglass body on an Alloway chassis. It's powered by a marine duty 454 big-block Chevy, mated to a 700-R4, and suspended via a tube axle in front and a Ford 9-inch in back. It has a straightforward powertrain and chassis that any one of us would have in a street rod. So, where am I going with this?
We have cajoled, manipulated, and convinced Bobby Alloway that it would be a good idea if "ye ol' editor" could drive one of his cars to a number of events during the summer all the while reporting on the drives. Of course, the hidden agenda for me is to have all to myself, at least for a few fun weeks, a really nifty highboy. The benefit for you will be the exploits that I will report on as well as some insights about driving a topless open roadster equipped with solid axles and ample torque.
By the time you read this our summer fun will be over but the stories will be forthcoming. I will have driven the car to the Holley NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, and the National Street Rod Association Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky. It should prove very interesting.
But it doesn't stop there. We have also enlisted Mickey Lauria of Total Performance of Wallingford, Connecticut, to join in our program. Next summer we will be driving one of his T-buckets near and far. In fact, we will go one step further in that we will build one of his kits ourselves. (This alone should prove worth the price of SRM!)
There are other manufacturers we are talking to and we hope to report on their rides as well. We are currently putting together a list of "everyday" street rods that we will run through the performance gauntlet in an attempt to show just what types of powertrain and drivetrain combinations yield what type of results in various street rods. We will be using a race track in Fontana, California, for some of the West Coast testing and Englishtown Raceway Park on the East Coast. We have made arrangements with the National Hot Rod Association to "borrow" some of their facilities to test cars elsewhere.
As an aside, we will also be moving ahead with Tech Editor Ron Ceridono's Ford-in-a-Ford project. This car will become a rolling laboratory to test brakes, tires, chassis components, etc...This series should yield some very interesting results. When will you see all of this? Well, by the time you read this article the staff of SRM will be in full swing gathering data and photos, so it will be coming soon to a newsstand near you. Hang on as the "read" promises to be worth the wait.