New Guy from AZ

Rat Rods Rule

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Oct 21, 2014
Glendale (Phoenix) AZ
Hello. My name is Mark and I'm a GasserHolic and a Rat Rod lover. I'm in the middle of a build using a 1963 full size Pontiac Catalina that's a little on the Rat Rod side. It'll never be pristine show car but hopefully a car worthy of showing.
After moving to Glendale AZ I found a rust free plain old white 2 door hardtop Catalina and snapped it up. The car is being built almost completely by me in my two car garage. I found a good rod builder down here and I had him build the front clip so I knew it was done right and safe. I've build many motors over the years but I had this one built by a very good Pontiac engine guy because I wanted to make sure everything was perfect in this one as I'll soon explain why. Just some specs on the car.
Custom front frame clip using a '57 Chevy pickup front beam axle. Speedway front disc kit. Narrowed rear frame rails to accommodate 31X16.5X15 M/T ET Streets on 15X15 inch rims. They are late light weight rims for now but will be changed out to Cragar SS 14X15 rims to match the fronts. Extra pair of frame rails placed inboard of the original perimeter frame for extra strength that tie into the narrowed rear rails. Braced and bracketed Ford 9 inch with a Detroit locker, 3:50 gears, 35 spline axles with 5/8ths studs. 48 inch ladder bars and custom rear suspension crossmember for the rear springs and shocks.
The firewall has been cut and welded into a cove to move the engine back 11 inches. The front seat and steering has been moved back 11 inches same as the motor. The rear seat area is a shortened padded shelf.
The front sheet metal is bolted together to make a one piece and I used the original inverted hood hinges bolted to the front frame horns to tilt the front end.
The car is built kid of the way someone may have built it back n '63 on a smaller, small shop kind of way. Near shade tree. But the star of the build is the motor.
I've built several turbo cars and I just can't go back to N/A. Soooo.
The motor is built with a 1960 389 block bored .090 to 406 cubic inches. The early blocks were cast very thick and heavy. They can withstand a lot of horsepower compared to the thinner cast blocks starting in 1961. But that is where all of the factory stuff stops. Splayed 4 bolt main caps, fully blueprinted block, reinforcing rods inserted into the center decks that reach down to the bottom of the water jackets to stop any deck flexing and gasket problems. Forged Ohio Crankshaft 3.75 crank, GRP aluminum rods, Ross turbo dished lightweight pistons and pins. Hellfire rings. Special order solid roller turbo cam with reverse duration 251 int and 241 exhaust at .050 116 CL .601/.601 net lift and the 4/7 swap.
The heads are KRE aluminum D-Ports flowing 318 @ .600 lift, 2.11 and 1.77 valves. 65cc chambers hence the dished pistons to get about 9.00 to 1 compression.
Twin Turbonetics TC76 ball bearing turbos, twin 50MM waste gates, twin 50MM blow off valves, blowing thru twin air to water intercoolers and into twin 750 Holley CSU blow thru E85 carburetors. This all blows into a Wenzler GutsRam tunnel Ram intake. I've modified a SHOGUN twin opening blower scoop to act as the carb hat. I plan on making an easy 1000 HP for everyday use and boosting it up to 1500 for the strip. It may never hit those numbers but that is my goal. My previous single turbo Pontiac 455 in a '73 Trans Am hit 1065 HP on 15 psi and pump gas. This is capable of 25 psi and it's on E85.
Right now the power is going thru a 1965 Pontiac (GM) version of the Ford Top Loader 3 speed transmissions that GM bought from Ford back then. This will all eventually get changed out to a built 4L80E/lockup converter some time in the future.
Although still not running yet it is very close. The last car show I took it to I had it in its final configuration and all together and this is what it looked like.





I currently have the motor and drivetrain back out to do several things to it. One of which is getting a complete cage built in for the strip. I still have a lot of things to do yet but I hope to have it at least running by spring. If I'm lucky maybe even on the road. That I can't wait to do.

Thanks guys. Been 4 years in the making and still going. This is the sign I ratted together to explain much of the car for shows.


Right now I have an aftermarket distributor at a machinist getting some work done to make it a front drive distributor. I originally intended to drive an old Top Fuel Hilborn injection pump off the cam (thru the Moon front cover) but after getting the motor in, and the manifold on, I found that the distributor is almost inaccessible back in the firewall cove. Many early gassers would cut a little window/door I the firewall to access the distributor but this car will spend 80% of its time on the street. I didn't want any openings for the heat and the noise to get thru so I'm going to run a oil pump drive stub I the back that won't require any access. I'm machining a Chevy distributor to run off the cam drive. Anywho we'll see if it all works. This is what it was with the fuel pump installed and lines ran before I decided to change and use a distributor there.


This is a mock up using a old Chevy HEI. The new one will be similar but an aftermarket small cap distributor.


This is the new one laid out before machining.


If all goes well I will still have the mechanical advance working for some good street manners and use the electronic boost controller to pull the timing back under boost. I was a putz and forgot to find the same distributor only with a vacuum advance unit so I could advance it even more under cruise conditions, but I will first make sure everything works well enough to be stable and reliable. Maybe later I'll add a vacuum canister to the assembly to turn the whole distributor in the mount. Anywho I like trying to make stuff out of something else and make it work.
OK I'm getting long here.
Thanks guy for the welcome and the praise. My main intent of coming to this forum is the rat rods. I own a '93 Chevy HD2500 6.5 TD that I pull my car trailer with. I really want to find a good rust "hole" free early Pontiac, '60 to '64 to cut the back off of right behind the rear seat and place it on the truck frame, with the truck bed behind that. The comfort of the car with the carrying/towing capacity of the truck. Whenever I go to the drag strip with the '63 Gasser I'd rather tow it so I can bring it home should I hurt something. The matching '63 tow vehicle would make a nice combination.

welcome to rrr, from bama. i have always liked your build of the tin indian, i run across it every once in awhile. i think it may have been on the white meat site.
Interesting. That is a site I am not familiar with. It's nice to know that it sparks interest on other forums. Is that a rat rod site or other? Thanks for the welcome and the heads up.

if it is my post your asking about, then yes we call the hamb the white meat site becauce they hate rat rods. if you look around here there are some rats but most are hot rods and customs that don't fit the hamb. a lot of members here are on both sites as well as other car sites.:)
Welcome to RRR! I can't even come up with words to say how awesome I think that is. Keep us posted on the progress.
Ha, 26T I never heard that but I understand why.
Thanks all for your comments. I'm having fun building this thing but can't wait to drive it. Soon I hope. I finally got the distributor machined and home. The pic I included earlier is of the original distributor. This is the shortened and machined version designed to fit down into the fuel pump extension.


This is the shortened unit with the shaft, the bearing that will fit inside the middle of the extension, the shims, and the locking collar.


This will nestle down into the fuel pump extension and bolt to the Moon front cover on the engine. This is the assembled distributor.


Here it is assembled and installed on the motor. The distributor shaft is not in the assembly yet since it still has to but cut to length and machined from round to a 3/8ths hex to fit into the hex drive on the cam gear.


Just under the distributor head is a movable locking collar that in the picture is pulled all the way up and locked in. That was so I could bolt the extension together. The collar will get dropped down to the top of the extension flange where I need to build or adapt a distributor hold down clamp that will snug down on the collar.

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