Story By Bob Brace of Cruisin Products www.cruisinproducts.com
Many street rods take more than a few weeks, months, years, and even decades to build, and in doing so a lot of original ideas evolve. Plans for the Mayflower included a small block chevy, but the time and energy that Bill and friends had taken to build this creation now required a very special power plant. Since this vehicle was so different, Bill decided he wanted a special engine for the Mayflower.
The ultimate hot rod engine ( so dear to my heart ) was decided on and the search was on for an early Chrysler hemi. Not any old aspirated hemi would do so this hemi was to be adorned with such eye candy as a supercharger. To accommodate the engine change the chassis also had to be modified ( getting the picture). One change leads to another, and another, and another. Oh, the joys of building a street rod!
The nickname affectionately given to the hemi, "elephant" really does describe the engines size quite well. It also describes the weight factor of a hemi in stock form. Many hemi’s have benefitted from weight reduction in the form of many aluminum after market parts. One can get pretty close to the weight of a small block by utilizing the many available lighter parts now available for these pachyderm heart throbs.
Locating the hemi is a story unto itself. Bill searched and searched but to no avail for the elusive pachyderm. But, while attending the NSRA Nats North show in Kalamazoo Michigan (every year in September), Bill spotted some hemi engines on a trailer in the swap meet area. For you that haven't attended the event, the swap meet is one highlight of the year at Nats North. As it turned out the engines were cousins of the Chrysler, a Dodge and DeSoto. The vendor told Bill he had a Chrysler hemi back home in Iowa. Bill is not an excitable guy, but this statement evoked a hearty "tell me more" response from Bill. The vendor told Bill the engine came from a 1955 Chrysler wagon that had been stored for years in the back of a bakery in suburban Davenport. The car had been used for local deliveries, but transmission failure put it out of service. The car was stored for years awaiting the trans repair that never happened. As such things go, the owner departed this world and the car was parted out, including the engine. Hearing the story, Bill was somewhat skeptical, but the prospect got the better of him and he wanted to check it out anyway. This was during the time before Bill had retired, so he signed out a company vehicle, borrowed a friends cherry picker and made a deal with his boss, remember Barb (his wife, life partner, you know how it goes). Being the loving supportive type Barb made Bill a deal. Bill would have to stop at an antique shop in northern Illinois. Barb was searching for some chairs for the dining room table. The deal was mutually agreeable, and the trip was on. As it turned out Barb found her chairs and Bill found his little pachyderm. The trip was a total success, all in one weekend. How many times does that happen?
The engine, a 331 was completely rebuilt. A .040 cylinder bore stuffed with Ross forged pistons with stock connecting rods filled the block. A new roller chain, spins a Howard 306 cam that opens and closes the oversized stainless valves in the stock ( ? ) heads featuring a 3 angle ground seats. The real eye candy ( along with those valve covers ) is the Wiend pro-street 177 super charger fit to a 671 manifold via a custom machined adaptor. Waste gates are routed through custom ceramic coated headers, polished stainless mufflers, and 3" NASCAR style tail pipes, exiting just ahead of the rear wheels. Power from the mighty blown hemi is handled by a GM turbo 400 trans.
Feast your eyes on the this blown elephant and try not to catch the fever, pachyderm fever .