WHEN I went to the US last year I checked out a car or hot rod show nearly every weekend. The US car scene is phenomenal. They can build practically anything and register it, plus the roads are awesome. Some of the cars I saw were purely for show, some were racecars, some were muscle cars that looked just like they did when they rolled off the showroom floor 40-50 years ago, some were rat rods, and others fell somewhere in between.
Iíve been thinking about the Street Machine Drag Challenge here in Australia. Terry Seng and Quentin Feast ran high sevens and low eights at Drag Challenge in 2015. I think this year competitors will step up their combinations and the front-runners will be well into the sevens.
But itís not that easy to build a really quick street-legal car that complies with all the ANDRA rules as well. Iíve been reading the Queensland Code of Practice for modifications, the Australian Street Rod Federation Queensland Street Rod Guidelines, and the ANDRA rules. Itís a head-spin trying to work out a way of complying with them all. As restrictive as the rules are, I think a hot rod may be the answer. No, Iím not going to build a hot rod myself, but maybe I might inspire someone to build one.
A hot rod Iíve always been impressed with was Fred Cavasinniís í34 coupe. I saw it drive into the last race at Castlereagh, and long-time Street Machine readers will recollect the story we did on it. A professional drag racing chassis builder constructed the fibreglass coupe, and it weighed around 2100lb if I remember correctly.
It was ANDRA-legal in its day, and Iím thinking a similar rod with a late-model all-alloy LS motor and a four-link that could hook up and go straight would be a Drag Challenge weapon.
Naturally aspirated, an all-alloy LS can crank out 750hp, and the rod with driver would weigh in at around 2300lb Ė potentially a mid-eight-second, 160+mph street rod.
For those of you who think outside the square, a turboed LS combo in a 2300lb hot rod would also be hard to beat at Drag Challenge. These days racers are making 1500hp out of a good turbo LS combination, which is potentially a 6.6@202mph ride. Not sure if Iíd want to do it in such a shortwheelbase car, but maybe a chassis builder could stretch the rodís wheelbase out a bit. One thingís for sure: it would need stout wheelie bars on the back of it!
And as sacrilegious as it sounds, an XR6 turbo drivetrain, complete with air conditioner, out of a late-model Falcon would also make a great basis for a touring hot rod. I can remember Dave Sheehyís unopened XR6 sedan making an easy 750hp on the Moroso calculator in its early stages of development, and getting something like 9.7L/100km on a trip from Collinsville to Mackay.
Being a six-cylinder, rego would be cheap, and fuel economy would be amazing in such a light car. The turbo would be quiet and help meet the 96dB exhaust noise limit, plus the late-model Ford six would be super-reliable. About the only way to stop it from running quick would be to stuff a rag in the intake. Iím not sure what the fastest six-cylinder was at Drag Challenge, but mid-eights would be a pretty hard act to follow.
Street Machine mightnít be based on hot rods, but Iíve always maintained that a true street machine gets driven to the track, raced and driven home, no matter what sort of car it is. Hopefully Iíve planted a seed.
I personally like the idea of a turbo XR6 as a cheap, practical powerplant. It mightnít sound as good as a blown V8, but there are no belts to break and it would be super-reliable.
I view turbos a bit like EFI, which is now legal in Pro Stock in the US. I think the days of carburettors in competition are numbered. Wonder how long it will be before ANDRA allows EFI in race classes here?
And while on the subject of Ďget with ití ANDRA rule changes, the most uncomfortable part about building an ANDRA-legal, road-registered hot rod or street car are the bucket seats that ANDRA forces competitors to use. It would make sense to allow Recaro-type buckets, which are permitted in other motorsports that are just as high-risk as drag racing.
As I write this, the Easter break is winding up.
Unfortunately itís a sad time for many families. Like Christmas and other public holidays, at Easter I nearly always hear the sounds of sirens wailing past my place on the way to an accident scene. No one ever intends to crash or injure themselves; itís always going to happen to someone else.
Personally I think driver fatigue is one of the most underrated factors in people losing control on the road, especially during the shorter public holiday periods like Easter or long weekends. I know police monitor speeds and we lose double points and such, but a car legally sitting on 100km/h with a driver thatís been at the wheel for 18 hours is every bit as dangerous as a speeding, drunk or drugged driver. So please, no matter the time of year, take care on the roads. s