Many times, growing up in the early 1960s had its benefits, especially when it came to the world of high performance. It was a time when snarling V-8s packed with aggressive attitude ruled the streets. For a young Steve Petit, of Quincy, Massachusetts, it held the key to plenty of local street racing combined with an endless array of hopped-up coupes, roadsters, and muscle cars setting the pace. What started off with a kid building scale models at the kitchen table quickly gained momentum to watching cars tear it up late at night along Southern Artery near the local Howard Johnson's restaurant.
As his teen years approached he banded with his brother, Bob, and neighborhood friend George Doran to build a 1958 Chevy Impala with a nasty 392ci Chrysler Hemi strapped to the 'rails. They later competed with the car at Sanford Drags in Maine, Connecticut Dragway, and New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. As the years passed, Steve completed a stint in the service, got married, and owned a pair of successful gas stations. It was at this time that he became involved in hot rods, completing a number of notable builds, including a 1946 Ford Business Coupe, 1941 Ford convertible (driven over 120,000 miles), and a 1932 Chevy roadster pickup. He longed however to return to the dragstrip and again experience the adrenalin rush he got running the quarter-mile.
Big-block power comes from a bored and stroked 572ci Ford mill generating 850 hp. Hop-up g
Steve stepped into the deep end of the pool by building a pair of Alcohol Funny Cars. After earning his NHRA license to pilot the cars, he competed in the Alcohol Funny Car Division for a number of years. Running an alcohol-fed Keith Black Hemi capped with a Littlefield 14-71 blower and Kinsler injection produced 2,500 hp on tap leading to track speeds of 5.93 at 245 mph. He then decided to build a unique hot rod he could compete in the Nostalgia Class as well as run on the street. A search led him to a barn in New Hampshire where he discovered a tattered, but complete, 1936 Ford cabriolet. A deal was made and the car was hauled back to his home shop for evaluation. The deeper he dug into the sum of the parts, the worse the pile looked. Not one to be daunted by a challenge, Steve sold off what he couldn't reuse and laid out plans to get started.
In designing the base it was imperative that it could take plenty of abuse. Steve constructed a chromoly chassis with twin parallel tubes and all needed crossmembers. Out back a Mark Williams sheetmetal rear was packed with 3.50:1 gears and 40-spline matching axles was suspended in place by a custom chromoly four-link deftly matched to a chromoly Panhard bar and Strange Engineering adjustable coilover shocks. Moving up front Steve wanted to give the car razor-sharp handling as well as a great stance. A Kugel Komponents IFS was used, accented by 2-inch dropped spindles, Strange Engineering coilover shocks, rack-and-pinion steering, and custom chromoly antiroll bar and Panhard bar. To stop the beast fluid pushes through a CNC Inc.'s dual master to stainless lines with Wilwood 11-3/4-inch drilled-and-slotted discs wearing matching four-piston calipers at each corner. Classic rollers include a set of 15-inch Halibrand Sprint wheels wearing mile-wide Mickey Thompson Sportsman rubber out back and Goodyear Eagles in front.
The flamed theme flows into the interior along with a custom dash and console, Auto Meter
Wanting to shake the rafters, Steve had Tigges Racing in Holbrook, Massachusetts, build an 850hp monster. A fresh 514ci Ford Racing crate V-8 was disassembled then bored and stroked to 572 ci using a Bryant Racing crank linked to Eagle rods and matching 10:1 slugs. A COMP Cams stick creates the beat while massaged Ford Cobra Jet Aluminum heads set the pace, and a BDS 8-71 blower sucks fuel through a pair of custom 910-cfm Holley carbs. Spark lights through MSD and spent gases flow through 3-inch headers and matching exhaust by Steve. Power moves through a tweaked 1979 Ford C6 by ATI Performance to a custom chromoly driveshaft.
Bringing the body back to life was no small feat. Rick's Custom Fabrication of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, got started by fabbing new doorskins and a trunkskin as well as stretching the fenders and creating flared transitions. E-Series Mercedes headlights were added along with custom taillights. The cool tilt hood was the work of both Rick and Blair Smith of Halifax, Massachusetts. When the metalwork was completed it was Blair Smith and Chuck Rossetti who did all the bodywork and laid down the House of Kolor midnight black topped searing blue pearl flames. Inside, a custom dash by Rick was filled with Auto Meter dials while a Billet Specialties wheel sets the course and shifts move through a modified Fairbanks Racing unit. Purple leather with Ostrich inserts by Ryan Dwyer Upholstery of Plympton, Massachusetts, cover a set of 1987 Thunderbird units. Steve's already laid down thousands of miles with his street shaker, proving it's the real deal.
COMP Performance Group
Replacing Your Camshaft? Don't Forget The Lifters.
It is recommended to replace lifters with most roller and all flat-tappet camshafts. Using lifters recommended by COMP will ensure that you will have a matched valvetrain system that will yield maximum performance and durability.
Understanding Air/Fuel Ratios
Gasoline engines typically run the best at about 12.8 to 13.0 air/fuel ratio at wide-open throttle. A higher number is a lean mixture, and a lower number is a rich mixture.
Flathead Fans Have Options, Too
Flathead engines can also get the Inglese treatment. If you have access to a four-barrel intake it is easy to utilize the Inglese Sidedraft Induction System. Inglese can also build a custom sheetmetal intake for an eight- stack setup.