Under the hood is the other side of the equation: the wolf. Assembled and dyno'd at Ray Ze
Where were you in 1957? Wham-O produced the first Frisbee, Ford's Edsel was introduced, American Bandstand debuted on television, and Bill Reichenberg bought his first car: a black 1951 Ford Tudor.
With its Flathead and three-on-the-tree, it was useful to Bill for a few years until it found its way into the family business and, eventually, to a local demolition derby. It would be another 40 years before Bill spied a car for sale in the NSRA's StreetScene magazine that looked identical to his first car. It was located in Lexington, Kentucky, and after a friend checked out the car for him, Bill bought it in 2002 and brought it back to his home in Broomfield, Colorado.
He drove the car around in its "factory" configuration, but all too soon remembered the loose steering and inadequate power associated with a baseline car of that era. By 2007 Bill was ready to have his '51 transformed, so he contacted Lee Bumgardner and Travis Kling of Zoomer's Automotive in Denver for a redo.
Since Bill had always wanted a Chrysler Hemi in one of his cars that was one of the requirements he mentioned to Bumgardner, along with improving the car's ride and handling. Lee and Travis approached the project by cleaning up what you do see, and improving the areas that you don't see.
The chassis and suspension for the '51 was tossed out in favor of a powdercoated Art Morrison frame, which uses a Morrison-designed IFS with a power rack-and-pinion setup, while the rear saw a Ford 9-inch rear (4.11:1 posi) get installed along with a set of four-bars. A RideTech airbag suspension and Wilwood disc brakes (with 11-inch rotors) were located on each corner, as were a set of Halibrand wheels (16x7 and 17x8) shod in Goodyear rubber (215/70R16 and 255/50R17). Other chassis goodies included a stainless steel brake line (connected to a Kugel Komponents billet aluminum master cylinder) and a stainless steel gas tank fabbed at Zoomer's shop.
The whole idea was to build a wolf in sheep's clothing, and the car's softer side was demo
The engine was another item on Bill's wish list: a '57 Hemi 392. Bored 0.030 over (to 398 cubes), the big V-8 was machined and assembled by Ray Zeller Racing Engines (La Habra, CA), who used his own tried-and-true combination of parts to boost the horsepower of the Chrysler. Performance parts, such as the Mallory ignition system and Zoomer's-built headers were added along with polished aluminum valve covers from Hot Heads Research & Racing. A Tremec TKO 600 five-speed, equipped with a Center Force clutch and plate, was bolted to the motor and is operated via a Hurst shifter (which was relocated to better fit around the seat).
The body of the '51 was left unaltered (hood trim remained as did the side emblems), but made straight by ColorWorks' Jeff Showalter before being rolled into ColorWorks' Denver-based paint booth where single-stage PPG black paint was applied.
Inside the car a few tricks were performed by Zoomer's to make the car appear stock in appearance, but with updated electronics. A Vintage Air A/C system (with hidden vents) is controlled from the spot where the original radio speaker is located, and the reworked stock gauges are connected with a Zoomer's-designed wiring layout. A combination of Lizard Skin and Second Skin was used inside the vehicle before Colorado-based Auto Weave Upholstery followed the Zoomer's-designed layout of leather and vintage nylon material creating an interior that looks like it came right out of the '50s (i.e. though the front bench seat appears stock, it has been outfitted with power controls). And even the steering wheel didn't escape subtle changes: its diameter was reduced 3 inches by Quality Restorations in Poway, California, before being bolted to a Vintage Series Flaming River column.
With the RideTech adjustable suspension, Bill can cruise comfortably to local events and then peg the car to the ground for some intimidating profiling. At a distance, the car looks like a nice, fixed-up stocker and, when you start looking around inside, there isn't anything that gives it away as the wolf in sheep's clothing scenario. That is until you open the hood.
No one knows if Bill's car in 1957 would have ever been as nice as his current ride, but Bill doesn't look back. And while the Frisbee, the Edsel, and American Bandstand were all pretty big moments in their time, none of them compare to the feeling Bill has every day he opens his garage door and climbs into his '51 Ford.