On the Fly
SEMA News—February 2011
By Drew Hardin
Photo Courtesy Source Interlink Media
|When Petersen Publishing Company photographer Eric Rickman took this photo in October 1958, Paul Schiefer’s involvement in developing a safe, “slipper” clutch for drag racers was still a decade away. So was the honor of being the very first inductee into SEMA’s Hall of Fame, a milestone that took place in 1969. Instead, what drew Rickman down to Schiefer Manufacturing in the San Diego area on that fall day was an assignment to photograph an assortment of Schiefer’s products as part of a lengthy review of competition clutches and flywheels that Bob Pendergast was putting together for Hot Rod magazine’s April 1959 issue.
This outtake from Rickman’s shoot shows Schiefer with stacks of aluminum blanks that would be machined into flywheels. As Pendergast wrote in his story, Schiefer had developed a process he called “Albro” that bonded bronze facings onto aluminum flywheels and pressure plates, “thus arriving at a combination offering light weight and superior heat emisitivity properties, along with a lasting friction surface.”
At the time, Schiefer made aluminum flywheels priced from $52–$70 “for all popular engines,” wrote Pendergast. Schiefer had also just added clutch applications priced from $50–$60 for Chevy V8s, including the Corvette. “Corvettes are hot,” said Schiefer’s ad in that April issue, “but every Corvette and Chevrolet owner should realize that only the new Schiefer lite-weight pressure plate assembly and the exclusive bonded face flywheel will eliminate all clutch worry and flywheel blowup.”