AST issue I mentioned the car show I attended at Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I couldn’t get over the unbelievable cars there that were truly street-driven. Sure, some cars arrived in trailers, but I saw so many tough hot rods, muscle cars and cruisers being driven to the show in sweltering-hot bumper-to-bumper traffic. The car parks were full of killer rides, and the sound of whining blowers and blaring exhausts was par for the course.
The rules to get a car registered in the US, especially if it was built before 1973, are so lenient compared to Australia. For most US states, a DMV inspection requires a steering and suspension check, working brakes, handbrake, indicators, horn, mirrors, treaded tyres, windshield wipers, defroster, rear number plate light, seatbelts, and a floorpan with no holes (so exhaust gases can’t enter the cabin).
Post-’73 cars are meant to have the original pollution equipment hooked up, but that’s clearly not the case in some states. There is no decibel requirement for exhaust noise, either. I believe California is one state with tougher rules though, especially when it comes to pollution.
These lenient road laws allow for some really unusual trends. What I noticed was that some of the 4WDs have really wide wheels.
The tyres hang out way past the guards, and they jack them up sky-high so the tyres don’t scrape. They’re like street-registered monster trucks!
Another extreme was fitting really big-diameter super-low-profile tyres and wheels. Couldn’t help but think that the wheels were worth more than the rest of the car in some cases! And I still don’t think they look ‘right’ on tri-five Chevs, but that’s just my opinion.
At the Pigeon Forge show I enjoyed seeing two cars that appeared in the 60s TV series The Munsters: the George Barris-built Drag- U-La hot rod and the Munster Koach. I happened to run into Butch Patrick, the actor who played young Eddie Munster in the series. He was there to autograph photos, and said he’s coming to Australia shortly to check out the Drag-U-La replica that Brisbane’s David Scott recently debuted at MotorEx. Keep an eye open for Butch at shows in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane – tell him you read about him in Street Machine!
Something that I couldn’t help but notice was how good the chrome was on many of the cars. The US chrome seems to be of better quality than we have in Australia. Also, the paint is outstanding in many cases – no runs, and the colour seems so deep and rich.
I spoke with a couple of hot rod owners and asked them how they
get on with the heat. They said that many hot rods have all the mod cons, like air conditioning and power steering. A lot of the hot rod owners were elderly couples who enjoy travelling around the country to the shows. What a great life! Certainly a lot more fun than sitting in front of the TV waiting to fall off the perch.
If you wanted parts, there were stalls set up selling heaps of second-hand stuff. Searching for a brand-new chrome bumper for a ’57 Chev? It was there, along with second-hand Muncie fourspeeds.
Brand-new Chevy HEI distributors were on sale for $40, along with new Holley carbs and Edelbrock fuel injection set-ups.
After the car show, I headed back to Lynchburg to say goodbye to Sonny Leonard and the guys at the shop. As I was about to go inside, I heard the familiar sound of a mountain motor on the strainer. It was a 940-cube naturally aspirated EFI engine out of a dragster. They were just shy of 2000hp, and had been running the total timing at 25°.
Sonny put another 1.5° into it, and on the next pull the motor went 2003hp – 60hp more than what it had when it came into the shop. The customer will be very happy!
Before I flew back to Australia, Sonny wanted to show me a single-four-barrel EFI pump gas engine they’d just dynoed. The numbers were almost identical whether they used high-octane race fuel or 93-octane pump gas.
The mountain motor is making over 2hp per cube, and I’ll devote a column to this mill in a future Stage Write. s ded bye uys liar be ne ust en 5°. or an to e o o l d s r