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Henry “Hank” Bechtloff Passes Away

Hank the Crank
Bechtloff opened Hank The Crank Inc. in 1971, backed by a reputation for ingenuity and quality.

By SEMA Editors

Henry George Bechtloff went by Hank, which due to his chosen line of work, became known as “Hank The Crank.” Bechtloff, who had recently turned 76, passed away Sunday, January 3, 2016.

Bechtloff grew up in Southern California. It was near the 1950s, and the new craze was all about hot rods and race cars. Bechtloff was inspired by the scene and his interest in racing and speed ignited his passion. He first raced on the streets, and then at such places as the Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, California, and Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, California, and home of the March Meet.

Bechtloff and one of his friends had a shop in the bay of a local gas station where the two worked tuning engines. In 1957, Bechtloff went to work for the CrankShaft Company near downtown Los Angeles. The Petersen Publishing building was a 25-minute drive down the road. The magazine's writers were at the shop almost every month going over the latest things Bechtloff was doing, like taking the new V8 265 Chevrolet engine and bore and stroking it to 327 cu./in. long before Chevrolet had a 327.

An editor at Petersen, Terry Cook, wrote a magazine article called “Hank The Crank Betters Ford’s Ideas,” featuring a picture of Hank inside a light bulb. After that, in 1971, Bechtloff opened his own company, which was appropriately named Hank The Crank Inc. Bechtloff was on his way.