Unusual manifolds are commonplace...
Unusual manifolds are commonplace in this collection. SAE (Schrager Automotive Engineering, Multipower, and Hexagon Tool duals are prime examples. Note that the Hexagon risers are reversed, allowing the generator to be mounted in its standard position. This 2x2 manifold first appeared on Harry Miller and Preston Tucker's ill-fated Miller-Ford Indy cars in 1935. Later, it was offered commercially by the Hexagon Tool Company in Michigan.
Many highly collectable Flathead intakes were simply scrapped in the '60s. Others were relegated to garage walls and storage bins. But by the early '80s, dedicated collectors had begun looking for these artifacts. In the '90s, intake manifold collecting began in earnest. Swap meets, garage sales and good ol' word-of-mouth were the sources. A few enterprising collectors hunted down the remaining pioneers to see if they'd saved anything from their manufacturing days.
A resurgence of interest in Flatheads coincided with the popularity of "retro" and "rat rodding." Traditionalists wanted to run Flatheads again, and vintage manifolds began to appear at swap meets as it became fashionable to use unusual intakes and heads. Not long after eBay began, manifold collectors realized the perpetual electronic swap meet was a terrific way to find new acquisitions. Rare manifolds began appearing on eBay, attracting spirited bidding.
Vintage intakes that once went begging in the $200 range quickly doubled. Really rare items went for $1,000 and more, as frenzied collectors bid wildly. Even homemade manifolds found buyers. Small "Y-type" accessory 2x2s, really "low-buck" $10-15 quick add-ons using a stock intake, also went for silly sums. A rare Dixie Western "Y" manifold sold for $600, and prosaic Almquist and Speed Gems "two-into-one" units have sold on eBay for lofty prices that would have bought conventional manifolds a few years earlier. A Y-intake by Bill Meyer (no relation to Eddie Meyer) of San Diego was offered two years ago at the L.A. Roadsters Show for a price in excess of $1,500! This year, Don Orosco offered a prewar water-heated early Edmunds intake for $2,500.
Eddie Meyer and his son Eddie...
Eddie Meyer and his son Eddie Jr., better known as Bud, were initially influenced by Eddie Edmunds, and after obtaining a small loan, they produced their first manifold. George DuVall designed the unique Meyer logo with a race car and a powerboat on an oval field. Meyer started with a water-heated 2x2 (foreground), and later offered a unique high-rise exhaust-heated 2x2 (rear), as well as a low-profile "Super" dual.
The increase in Flathead manifold demand has encouraged a few small manufacturers to reproduce classic styles. Orosco offers the once-popular Eddie Meyer exhaust-heated high-rise (so does Speedway), and a perfect repop of Ord's 2x2, as used by Doane Spencer. Orosco also created a staggered four-carb intake with the Meyer logo, based on an early design by Jack Ruel. H&H Flatheads sells nearly all of Navarro's classic intakes, including the "dog bone" freshly cast and neatly machined. They sell the blower manifold too.
Tony Baron has reproduced the Thickstun dual and Tattersfield four-carb. Vic Edelbrock Jr., continued to sell his company's triple manifold, and is now remarketing the classic "Super" dual as well as an improved Edelbrock four-barrel. Offenhauser duals and triples never went out of production; Don Ferguson cast a few Alexander manifolds; Jim DesJardins offered the handsome Harrell dual and he's selling Harrell triples; Kevin Preciado marketed the classy Cyclone triple.
You can buy brand-new Sharp dual manifolds again via mail order from Red's Headers. You can also get them through Sharp Speed & Power Equipment now owned and operated by Pat McGuire, who also owns Wilcap.
After extensive flow bench testing, Motor City Flathead's Mark Kirby is offering his improved version of a Thickstun-style high-rise. Ken Austin still sells copies of the unique 4x4 he designed in high school-both pairs of carburetors face one another.
My collection includes rarities like a Kelly Brothers dual, made in San Jose, along with intakes by Battersby, Ken-Rich, SAE, Ord, Nicson, and McGuire. I have a beautiful one-off 2x2 made by Owen Betry of Glendale. Apparently, Betry had a Ford garage, and he raced at the dry lakes. He proudly riveted his SCTA timing tag onto the manifold, and it's still there today. I also have an unused Fenton dual intake in its original box, along with the linkage, the generator mount, and instructions. And I have an Edmunds dual that was used in the '40s by noted lakes racer Jim Khougaz. Still covered with dry lakes dust, preserved the way it looked right after Khougaz removed it from his '32 roadster, it's a time warp.
Rare manifolds still turn up, mostly from collectors who acquired them years ago, kept them for decades, and only now have decided to sell.
It's getting harder and harder to find the rare ones, and prices keep escalating. My collection now covers several walls in my garage, and there are a dozen more to hang. My wife, Trish, insists that when I turn off the garage lights, they're breeding. "They were only hanging halfway across the back wall last time I looked," she says, not unkindly, "and now they're over on the other wall. They must be going at it in the dark." I assure her they're better than a 401(k), so she's taken to calling them her "aluminum annuity."
Most unusual is this prewar...
Most unusual is this prewar high-rise Davies 2x2. I've seen photos of a Davies in use in 1940 on a Flathead-powered '29 Model A. Bill Ewing ran one on his deuce roadster for a time. The tall risers are set up for Winfield carburetors, but you could purchase adapters for the ubiquitous Stromberg 97s or 48s.
The intake designs of Jack...
The intake designs of Jack Davies and Colonel Alexander are highly prized today. Most of these early intakes used the high-rise configuration, ostensibly so there was ample clearance for the generator.
Andy Granatelli's Grancor...
Andy Granatelli's Grancor (Granatelli Corporation) Super dual (foreground) is a close copy of the famed Edelbrock Super 2x2. Granatelli, teamed with brothers Vince and Joe, owned a speed shop in Chicago. Grancor's unique triple manifold takes a four-bolt Rochester 2G two-barrel in the center; it's flanked by low-risers for a pair of three-bolt Stromberg's. With this setup, there's plenty of low-speed fuel on tap; progressive linkage added a triple-carb punch when the throttle was nailed.
Colonel Alexander's unique...
Colonel Alexander's unique finned, twin passage, side-by-side high-rise looked great, but may not have been too efficient. Colonel was his real first name. Alexander, a lakes racer who sold a line of miniature motorized model race cars (better known as "spindizzies") later offered overhead valve heads for Flatheads. This manifold is a dead-nuts copy made by Don Ferguson Jr.
Here's grouping of 2x2s that...
Here's grouping of 2x2s that were mostly made in the Pacific Northwest. Several nameplates used the same pattern including Police, (probably named because some police departments souped-up their engines to catch errant speeders), Columbia, Shanafelt, National, Lance and Rocket. The first production four-carb, a Schnell, came from Portland, OR