“If you haven’t already bolted a tape deck in that machine of yours, man, you’re either living outside of the ‘in’ group or have never heard an automotive stereo tape player in action,” he said in his opening paragraph. “Stereo might be great at home, but in a car—it’s something else. Just to drive along while listening to your favorite music coming at you from all directions is what most stereo owners refer to as the new surrounding sound.”
The pits at an NHRA drag race today are as much a part of the show as they are a place for work. They’re a maze of 18-wheelers, easy-ups and souvenir booths, where hawking T-shirts and collecting autographs go hand in hand with rebuilding engines in a tense but well-orchestrated effort to make the next round.
The third annual Hot Rod Magazine Championship Drags, held in June 1966, was a scorcher. On the track, that is. All the big names in drag racing came to Riverside loaded for bear: McEwen, Chrisman, Landy, Leal, Ongias, Swingle—and records tumbled.
It has been 60 years since the first Corvette rolled off its assembly line in Flint, Michigan. A month before that first Vette was built, a Belgian-born engineer named Zora Arkus-Duntov joined Chevrolet.
It’s 1968, and Car Craft magazine publisher Sal Fish shakes hands with actor James Garner. Garner, in the helmet and goggles, sits in a Bill Stroppe-prepped Ford Bronco, ready to race in the second National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) Mexican 1000.
At the 1970 Bakersfield Fuel & Gas Championships, the Top Fuel final came down to a duel between two close friends: Tony Nancy and Harry Hibler. Nancy, known for his outstanding upholstery work and for building a number of immaculate hot rods (several of which were featured on the cover of Hot Rod magazine), had just entered the Top Fuel ranks that year. Hibler, who for years ran the San Fernando dragstrip, had started racing Top Fuelers a couple years before and was juggling his racing schedule around his day job, selling advertising at Petersen Publishing Company.
When we titled this piece “Going 90,” we weren’t talking miles per hour. Alex Xydias and his radically chopped SO-CAL Speed Shop Double Threat Coupe were good for far more than that: a class record of 172.749 mph at Bonneville in 1953; a little more than 170 mph (with an ailing engine) in 1954 when this photo was taken of Xydias in the coupe; and a record 132.79 mph at the Pomona drags later in 1954, when he had the engine sorted out and tipped the nitro can just a bit.
Given the explosion of sophisticated automatic transmissions in everything from Ferraris and Porsches to the new ZL1 Camaro, Roger Huntington, writing in the April 1967 issue of Car Craft magazine, could have been talking about today’s performance-car market:
“Automatics are here to stay in high-performance American cars. And, in fact, the age-old manual four-speed might just be falling back a hair. A lot of hot dogs like the convenience of two-pedal driving, and it is pretty well established that an automatic is quicker away from the stoplight—other factors equal. This is becoming a very strong sales factor in today’s supercar market. More and more guys are going automatic on their hot street machines.”
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Carroll Shelby, who passed away in May at the age of 89, was a true icon in the automotive world—someone whose name was literally synonymous with performance. Ask anyone to list their 10 favorite cars of all time, and chances are good that at least one will carry Shelby’s name or have been influenced by the flight instructor turned chicken farmer turned sports car racer turned car builder turned entrepreneur turned philanthropist.
Framed by those tall velocity stacks is Bruce Crower, photographed late in 1966 for a Car Craft magazine article about his then-new fuel-injection systems for big-block Chevy engines. The air/horsepower equation in our title was the story’s title as well, referring to Crower’s “deep breathing” injectors. Unlike other injection systems on the market at the time, Crower’s injection manifold featured gaping intake ports that were nearly 3 inches wide. Those injector stacks could be mammoth, too—as tall as 14 inches, depending on the application.