If you decide to compete for one of hot rodding’s most revered honors, the Ridler Award, you have to be prepared to open a very big door and step into the deep end of the pool where every detail will come under intense scrutiny. For Lenny Spallone, of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, growing up surrounded by high performance supplied him with enough knowledge and determination to take on countless projects.
At age 16 he brought home his first muscle car, a ’66 Barracuda, along with his new license. The rest is a blur of high-octane fuel and burnt rubber. Owning a slew of hard-edge Mopar muscle cars there were plenty of late night runs on the street as well as quarter-mile racing at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. Having always been a fan of Pro-Street ground pounders it was easy to see energy levels launch into overdrive when he decided to take on the latest seven-year build at his shop, Saugus Auto Craft in Lynn, Massachusetts.
With the direct intention of building a car to compete for the Ridler, a project of this magnitude required plenty of equally committed, like-minded individuals and Lenny had just the right team in mind. To come up with a design that was different from everything he had previously seen, he placed a call to Minotti’s Fiberglass Inc., then in Naples, Florida, about their ’37 Ford body. Impressed by what he saw, Lenny made a deal and had one delivered directly to his shop. Next, a Total Cost Involved Engineering chassis was combined with custom crossmembers and supports by Mike Casey of Enigma Rod Shop in Billerica, Massachusetts.
To deliver the goods rearward a Mark Williams modular 9-inch floater rearend was packed with 4.56:1 gears spinning power through Strange Engineering 31-spline axles. It’s secured in place by a custom four-link deftly matched to a Panhard bar and Aldan coilover shocks to get the job done. Wanting to inject plenty of nostalgic flair up front, a TCI Engineering 4-inch dropped axle was combined with matching spindles, custom-fabbed hairpins, Panhard bar, and Aldan coilover shocks, all of which were treated to the chrome vat. When the need to tame the beast hits a Wilwood Engineering dual master pushes fluid through stainless lines to 11-inch Wilwood Engineering discs, complemented by four-piston calipers anchored at each corner for plenty of bite. Bringing all the power to the pavement a set of dazzling one-off Billet Specialties wheels in 15x15 rear and 15x4 front sizes capped with Hoosier skins adds just the right stance.
For a blistering combination of gut- wrenching power and visual brilliance Lenny went straight to the head of the class and contacted Street & Performance for one of their impressive looking and performing GM crate 502 big-block V-8s. Packed with all the right goods direct from GM, the team at Street & Performance detailed the engine’s exterior to the hilt, adding many signature items, including their wicked multi-port fuel injection laced with an evil NOS nitrous setup and serpentine belt system. Generating a solid 500 hp the engine dumps its spent gases through a custom-designed stainless exhaust by Mike Casey and pushes the power through a TH700-R4 trans prepped, polished, and detailed by the Toy Shop in Pomona, California, via a custom aluminum driveshaft.
With the loaded rolling chassis completed it was time to focus on the body. Starting with a clean canvas direct from Minotti, the body arrived at Lenny’s shop already chopped 4 inches and channeled 8 inches, giving the coupe plenty of perfectly proportioned attitude. Casey then created a flowing rear roll pan while Dave Ellis of Saugus Auto Craft worked his magic on the hood sides and top, doors, and grille. Final panel fitment and bodywork was then handled by Ellis who got everything razor sharp prior to loading his spray gun and dousing the entire package in House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl vibe. Wanting the coupe to stand tall in the show arena Lenny called on Chris Stevens at Saugus Auto Craft to layout a dramatic flame job to give the car plenty of additional pop.
Rounding the corner on the build there was no question that the interior needed to match the level of detail the rest of the car embodied. Having seen numerous noteworthy interiors by The Hot Rod Garage in Denton, Maryland, it was an easy decision to contact shop owner Ray Bartlett to have them handle it. Master craftsman Dean Alexander created a curvaceously seductive wraparound dash and console to accent the car’s signature style. Bathed in tangelo pearl, it was complemented with custom bucket seats and yards of butter-soft tan leather with just enough German square-weave carpet. A Billet Specialties steering wheel navigates the course while Vintage Air supplies a cool breeze and gears move through a B&M shifter. Auto Meter Phantom-series gauges help watch the vitals and a custom rollbar by Mike Casey completes the cabin. In 2003 the coupe competed for the Ridler and was awarded a Great 8, which is a major accomplishment confirming its high level of attention to detail. Since then it’s been tearing up the streets of Lynnfield, and to us that’s just plain wicked!
COMP Performance Group
COMP Cams - Installing New Rockers? Replace Pushrods Too.
It is always a good idea to replace your pushrods when you install new rockers. Pushrods and rockers wear together, much like a cam and lifters. Even though the pushrods may not show any wear, installing new rockers on old pushrods can result in premature failure. Use a small amount of COMP Cams Valve Train Assembly Spray (PN 106) on the tip of each pushrod at the rocker arm to prevent wear on initial startup.
FAST - Ground It Right
The most common issue with any EFI system is proper grounding. There are some misconceptions about what is a suitable ground. FAST suggests connecting all grounds labeled “Battery Negative” directly to the battery terminal. There is an important reason for this. The battery can act like a filter of sorts to dissipate interference or electrical noise that can be induced by other electrical devices on the vehicle.
Inglese - Balancing Act
When balancing stacks, be sure to measure the four middle barrels first. This is where they are tied together and thus where vacuum needs to be the most consistent for proper driving characteristics.