Of course, to be a real hot rod (remember, they're built for high speed) the engine mentioned earlier had to be more than a simple painted and polished 327-cid engine pirated from some derelict GM product. No, no, that would never do; this one went to Paul Sartin, where it was punched to 337 cid and the rotating mass was balanced. Then, it was back to the Stirnemann shop, where a well-mated selection of performance parts was fitted to the short-block and the assembly was screwed together. To make sure the short-block's potential was used to the max, the 461 cast-iron GM heads were sent out to Ron's Porting Service, where they received some porting, polishing, and a three-angle valve job to enhance their breathing abilities. With the heads in place and their finned aluminum Corvette rocker covers attached, it was time to add the GM HEI ignition, an Edelbrock RPM intake, a 600-cfm Holley, and a pair of Sanderson Headers. Now that's a hot rod engine-goes fast, runs reliably, produces 370 hp, and gets 17 mpg at highway speeds.
The body had been separated from the frame the second it rolled in the door and it's of the highly coveted real steel variety. Of course, that means there was some body damage, dings, and other minor imperfections to be ironed out before much else could happen with it, and those were all handled by Harry and Jack with an assist from Mark. The upside is that a ribbed insert had been welded into the middle of the top, and the top had already been chopped 4 inches when it came to them, so the heavy lifting had been finished by an earlier rodder. There wasn't a huge amount of sheetmetal with which to deal because the car was to be a fenderless version, but what was there was treated the same as it would have been had the plan been to paint it gloss black rather than flat primer.
When the bodywork was finished, it was time to get serious about the interior. For that, an array of Stewart Warner gauges was installed in the instrument panel, and Jack, along with Ernie Vishion, fabricated a slim, graceful one-off column with directional indicators built in. When the fit and finish were as they should be, the metal in the interior was sprayed flat black to blend with the rest of the car. Uncle Jack then fabricated the wiring harness necessary to make it all functional.
While the Stirnemann family was finalizing all the other interior work, Don Albers was busy turning out the black, rolled vinyl upholstery that would be fitted to the interior as soon as the prep work in the cabin was complete. Don's trimming expertise brought the exact look to the interior. It's all plain, simple, traditional, and most of all, functional. There are no A/C vents or fancy sound systems chewing into vast areas of the interior-just the basic elements necessary to make it go and read its vital signs; everything else is left for another time and place.
The first event for the car was the 2006 Goodguys Indy show, and as you might suspect, Mark was out racing the car in the Street Rod Shootout rather than sitting under an awning somewhere debating the proper technique for polishing a louver. Sure, Mark lost to the eventual winner in the second round, but the point is, he went 13.30 at 106 mph and had a really good time. This project was a chance for Harry, Jack, and their rodding friends to share the hobby they've been involved in for decades with Mark, and gave Mark a chance to really get involved with the long-standing family tradition of building real-steel hot rods.