The evolutionary scale where a street shaker rises from weaves a path melding style, power, and aggressiveness. To start, a car owner typically gets the ball rolling by purchasing anything from a derelict roller, to a clean, stock original, or even an eBay special that needs lots of tidying up and rethinking. One thing for sure though is that we’ve never seen a past Ridler Award contender get cut up and reworked into a pavement pounder. Vince Spretnjak of Crete, Illinois, did just that in creating his latest build where he actually tore down one level of perfection to create another, which is a pretty gutsy move in our eyes.
Nothing shakes the streets like a 528ci Chrysler Hemi nailed to the ’rails. Filled with pl
Active in hot rodding since his youth, he built his first hopped-up ’31 Ford Tudor while in high school and attended the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Memphis in 1975. With numerous vintage Fords passing through his hands he moved on to get married, start a family, and run a successful autobody and restoration shop. After seeing Pete Chapouris’ groundbreaking ’34 Ford coupe in the made-for-TV movie The California Kid, he and wife, Terri, were convinced that their next project would have to center around one of Henry’s finest designs. Sourcing a suitable car to start with, Vince set his goals on building a hot rod to compete for the prestigious Ridler Award. After a number of years covering everything from design to the final build, his coupe, known as “Showdown”, was unveiled at the Detroit Autorama in 1985. The fully fendered tangerine coated, ultra-slick ’34 packed a plated and polished blown small-block as well as countless innovations, including a polished stainless steel floor. Competing alongside STREET RODDER’s own Tom McMullen, and Bobby Alloway, the coupe was in great company. While Bobby Alloway with his ’33 Ford Victoria won the Ridler that year, it was still a major achievement for 29-year-old Vince to have shown with the best of the best. Although the coupe was a standout in the indoor circuit it wasn’t very practical to drive. This led the car to be mothballed for 15 years while he tended to other projects, including a vicious injected 354ci Hemi-powered ’34 Ford coupe rail dragster for the street.
For plenty of comfort, Vince had Larsen’s Auto Trim layout a pleated black leather interio
Missing the ability to drive his original ’34 Ford coupe led Vince to completely rethink the car in order to bring it back to roadway use with a twist. As a kid, he was always fascinated by Gassers and their no-nonsense attitude, looking like they were tearing through the quarter-mile while standing still. He laid out plans to give his show car a full makeover, instilling plenty of ’60s-era style with a mill that would leave you breathless when you mashed the throttle. It’s never easy cutting into a car that you built, let alone one with a well-known history, but Vince wasted no time in tearing the car down to bare bones and getting started. Immediately gone were the fenders, running boards, and polished Corvette IRS, followed by the small-block V-8 and tangerine coating. To create a suitable base for the coupe, he modified the original spine from The Roadster Shop, which was already boxed, molded, and filled with tubular crossmembers. Out back a 9-inch Ford rear was suspended in place filled with 3.55:1 cogs and Currie axles using a triangulated four-bar and antiroll bar from The Roadster Shop while Aldan Eagle coilover shocks soak up the bumps. To dial in a perfect stance up front, a dropped and drilled TCI Engineering axle was deftly matched to early Ford spindles combined with hairpin radius rods, a Posies Super Slide leaf spring, Panhard bar, and Pete & Jake’s tube shocks. To effectively bring everything to a halt, a Corvette master pushes fluid through polished stainless lines to Ford drums out back and 11-inch Wilwood discs up front with matching four-piston calipers. If you’re building any type of Gasser-influenced hot rod the icing on the cake rests in the wheel and tire combination. To seal the deal, Vince bolted on a pair of 15x4.5 ET Gassers up front capped with Goodyear Eagle skins while out back received a pair of 16x10 ET Fueler’s with meaty Goodyear Eagles. The heart of any street shaker lives between the framerails and to bring plenty of gusto to the party, Vince went full-tilt with big-inch Hemi power. Working with Rhyne Competition Engines in Gary, Indiana, the team assembled a 528ci behemoth starting with a fresh Chrysler Hemi crate engine. The stock internals were balanced and accented by a COMP Cams stick while the aluminum heads were warmed up and an MSD ignition was used for spark. The crowning touch was the addition of a dazzling Hilborn EFI stack injection with enough oats to garner 653 hp on the dyno. Spent gases get dumped via Sanderson headers to a 3-1/2-inch polished stainless exhaust roaring through Stainless Specialties mufflers. To work the power to the pavement a ’66 Chrysler 727 automatic filled with a B&M converter spins it rearward through a custom driveshaft.
An aggressive stance is accented by a custom owner-fabbed rear roll pan, molded ’37 Chevy
Tending to the body was a breeze since Vince’s past efforts were to remain unchanged. Let’s recap that he previously sliced 4 inches from the lid and filled the roof. New updates included a custom-fabbed rear roll pan and front splash aprons as well as the addition of a Rootlieb hood. With the bodywork razor sharp, he prepped the coupe for the spray booth and laid down a searing coating of DuPont yellow vibe to bring the coupe to life once again. To add just enough comfort to his business office, Vince worked with Larsen’s Auto Trim in Bourbonnais, Illinois, to cover a Glide Engineering bench with tidy black leather pleats while also creating custom door panels, headliner, and black loop carpet. To monitor the vitals, Moon gauges reside in the stock dash while a Billet Specialties steering wheel linked to an ididit column helps navigate the course. Crisp shifts come through a Lokar shifter while an owner-fabbed chrome rollbar finishes the look. To us its just plain bitchin’ to hear the coupe fire up, shake the ground, and motor off into the distance knowing its second time around was well worth the wait.
Get it tight, get it right
Make sure you properly torque all fasteners during engine assembly. Not doing this could cause potential failure of a critical part and damage the engine.
Make sure the throttle blades are slightly open in the throttle body before setting the TPS on an EZ-EFI. This will allow the engine to have a stable idle at your desired rpm. If the blades are completely closed the engine will not run. Also, if the blades are not set before the TPS is calibrated, then the TPS will send a signal to the computer that you are accelerating (not at idle) and the ECU will start giving it fuel. At idle this would cause a major rich condition and poor idle (if it will idle at all).
Calibration is king
Making sure that the stacks are calibrated evenly is the first and most important thing to check on any stack EFI or carbureted setup.