Every one of us can see the ultimate hot rod in our mind’s eye. Only Crawford Byxbee can hear his. It’s a verse from a song you probably know. Here, sing along with us: “My four-speed, dual-quad Positraction four-oh-nine.”
But Crawford’s car differs from the one that inspired the Beach Boys half a century ago. It’s not an Impala or a Bel Air—it’s not even a Chevrolet for that matter. Nor is it truly a Ford, despite what its grille, cowl, doors, and bed imply.
Like its verse-sake, the 409—now...
Like its verse-sake, the 409—now 415—wears a Chevrolet manifold and AFB-style carburetors. Crawford Byxbee taught himself to weld on the headers. Note how the downtube chases back up the rear pipe and down the inside of the frame.
In fact his car doesn’t sit well with any categorization. It’s one part parts hauler, another part roadster, a touch of lakes racer, a little bit of dirt tracker, and a whole bunch of muscle car. Yet it’s all hot rod.
As any proper hot rod project should this one began as an engine, the largest displacement W-series Chevrolet offered to the public. “I always thought the 409 was the ultimate in nostalgia muscle motor,” he begins. “In the fall of 2006, I came across a 409 with my name on it.”
Prior to the purchase, Burt’s Auto in Colorado Springs, Colorado, machined its passenger-car 409 block and crank. Colorado’s Jack Gibbs built the engine as a pump-friendly version of the ’63 425-horse model. He had Ross Racing Pistons machine a set of slugs with larger chamber volumes. He pinned them to Precision Engine Parts’ I-beam connecting rods and topped the engine with a pair of ’65 pickup heads. Only before they went on they got machined for oversized stainless valves.
Post Falls’ Bruce Oliver trimmed...
Post Falls’ Bruce Oliver trimmed a modified Glide bench with black leatherette and red piping. Mike Maris made the aluminum door panels, dimpling them for flat-head fasteners. RJS makes the aircraft-style, latch-type belts.
Iskenderian Cams’ version of GM’s 425hp solid-tappet cam and COMP Cams’ roller rockers dictate their opening events. Crawford fulfilled the dual-quad part of the verse with a genuine Chevrolet manifold and Edelbrock’s versions of Carter’s venerable 500-cfm AFB carburetors. A Mallory Unilite distributor and 7mm wires light the fire.
He addressed the four-speed part of the verse with a transmission prepped by Tequesta, Florida’s gear guru, Paul Cangialosi. He used an Auto Gear M22W transmission, the company’s wide-ratio version of Muncie’s legendary M22, aka the Rock Crusher, due to the howl its low-pitch gears make.
Crawford found a home for that powertrain in a pinched Total Cost Involved Engineering chassis. He had it stretched 3 inches to accommodate the bigger engine and a second pedal installed to accommodate the clutch.
The T&F top-mount shifter...
The T&F top-mount shifter approximates the tower position of early Ford gearboxes. Speedway Motors’ cast panel sports Auto Meter Antique Beige dials. An ididit steering column mounts Vintique’s 15-inch version of the ’40 Ford wheel.
Technically it’s impossible for Crawford’s car to fulfill the Positraction part of the verse; Speedway Engineering based the Super Max quick-change axle on Ford’s design yet Positraction is a GM trademark. However, the axle does have a limited-slip gear carrier, which is what the Positraction really is. That axle links to the chassis by way of a Total Cost Involved four-bar suspension, Panhard bar, and All American coilover dampers.
The front suspension consists of the company’s hairpins and Panhard bar, a Super Bell I-beam axle, Pete & Jakes dampers, and a Unisteer steering rack. Wilwood 10-3/4-inch-diameter rotors and four-piston calipers on the front axle and Ford 11-inch-diameter drums on the rear promise to deliver this juggernaut from high speeds.
Rather than labor to notch...
Rather than labor to notch a Deuce tank only to have it hide the quick-change axle, Crawford mounted a universal aluminum one in the bed. Fuel economy he describes as, “… less than spectacular” inspired the 16-gallon capacity.
Crawford fabricated the 1-3/4-inch primary lakes-style headers and the Bassani-baffled 2-1/4-inch-diameter pipes that they feed. At lower speeds a Cooling Components’ 16-inch-diameter fan pulls air through a Walker radiator.
His body choice was a rather inspired one. “It all started back in 1960 when I got my first car,” he says. “My dad advanced me most of the $160 for a ’29 Ford roadster pickup.” He rebuilt it several times, hopping up its engine along the way.
But typical for anyone who drove one when they were plentiful, Crawford can no longer fit so well in a Model A roadster pickup. Progression suggests that a Deuce cab would do but according to the V-8 Club of America the open ’32 cab was hardly more than a modestly revised ’31. Not that it mattered; as Crawford found out Budd made fewer than 600 B-76 open-cab pickup bodies for Ford in 1932, making them both rare and valuable.