Driving the car around Portland was beginning to be a pain. Portland's Finest always seemed to be about a block behind, waiting for an opportunity to pull him over and have a little chat-it was time for a change. It was decided to make the '32 a C-altered drag race car and get serious about drag racing. The chassis was changed, and the engine became a small-block Chevy 327 and was finished off with a Torqueflight transmission and Chevy rear axle. The engine was set back 25 percent of the wheelbase and the rear axle moved forward like a Funny Car. This necessitated center steering so Al could get in and out of the car. During the second year of racing, the engine was radically built, with a Crower cam, Crower port fuel injection, a Clutch Flight transmission, and Pontiac rear axle. The car was much more competitive, turning low 10-second quarter-miles. That 327 survived four years of drag racing and is still in the car today, but detuned for the street.
Drag racing was getting to be very expensive, so the decision was made to take a year off and reevaluate what was to be done. That year turned into 12 and the car sat waiting for something to happen. During that time the car would probably have been sold if anyone had shown an interest. In 1980, Al decided to redo the car and make a nice street rod. Beverly Hills Street Rods built a reproduction chassis while the body received an acid dip to remove paint and rust. It then spent six months in Tom Black's garage getting unchanneled and patch panels repaired, etc. It then took nearly seven years to find everything necessary at swap meets to get it back where it needed to be. The car was painted and assembled in Al's garage. Five years later, after experiencing numerous overheating problems with the engine, the car was torn down. The engine was moved back 2 inches and up 2 1/2 inches to get a real fan and shroud on it. That meant a new Bitchin' firewall and floorboards, modifying the exhaust and redoing the steering.
Twenty-five years after Al bought the car, his younger brother, Dale, went to his 25-year high school reunion, where he ran into Ed Mooney-Chet Mooney's brother-who Al bought the car from. They started talking about the car and he mentioned that there were still some '32 parts in his mother's shed. He called Ed and he managed to find the original dash from the '32. After some discussion, Al paid Ed $25 for the original dash-the same price Al paid for the car in the first place!
The body was again removed from the frame for a complete rebuild in 2005. Kevin Bischoff of Kevin's Restorations did some body repairs, refit the doors, and painted it. At brother Dale's suggestion, stainless steel fasteners and a grille insert were added, and the package tray removed. Other upgrades included a Glide seat, ididit column, and The Wheel Shoppe steering wheel. Also replaced were the headliner, door panels, and glass, and American Racing Salt Flat Special wheels shod in BFGoodrich tires were added.
Al Strong has managed to do what many of us wish we had done, and that is still own his high school car.