SEMA Heritage

Making History in Mexico

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.

Done for Pure Fun

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.

Going 90

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.

Here to Stay

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.”

Carroll Shelby: Synonymous With Performance

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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.

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More Air=More Horsepower

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.

Unsung

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In May 1963, Petersen Publishing Company’s Dick Day shot an entire roll of film as Dean Jeffries crawled around—and over—a horseless carriage, pinstriping brush in hand. As far as we know, none of these photos ever made it into any of Petersen’s magazines, but they captured the prolific Jeffries at a pivotal point in his career.

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Big Year

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Gene Winfield was having a big year in 1963 when Petersen Publishing Company photographer Eric Rickman took this photo at Winfield’s car customizing shop in Modesto, California. Rickman was chronicling the progress of several cars being prepped for land speed record attempts at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and he captured Winfield as he was laying out “a super streamlined street roadster over an early Ford frame and running gear.”

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Big Wheel

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Given the importance of wheels in today’s automotive aftermarket, it’s hard to imagine a time when they weren’t a driving force (no pun intended) in vehicle modification and personalization. But that’s exactly what LeRoi “Tex” Smith said to open his November 1963 Hot Rod magazine article about custom and racing wheels.

“Until recently, the wheel was virtually overlooked by hot rodders,” Smith wrote. “Those who were concerned with the wheel usually made do with modified steel items or turned to the one major source of supply, the Halibrand Manufacturing Co.”

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Street Rodder

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In January 1963, Tom McMullen posed in his flamed Deuce highboy for Hot Rod magazine’s Eric Rickman in front of Beckman Instruments, where McMullen worked as an electronics technician. The photos Rickman shot became the cover feature for Hot Rod’s April 1963 issue. This view of the car is an unpublished outtake, showing the rear of the ’32 and the pinstriping done by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Roth also laid out the car’s flames, which McMullen painted.

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