Vintage Forced Induction
We always love offering a peek at what's behind the doors at the Museum of American Speed. Of the hundreds of vintage and significant racing engines on display, here are a few that feature various types of forced induction that you're not likely to see anywhere else...
This is a Latham axial-flow supercharger on a 327 Chevy. Norman Latham started making these in the mid-fifties and produced them through 1965. Internally, they’re completely different than a more traditional Roots blower. More like small turbines, they have internal drums with sheet metal veins welded to them. They also spin much faster than a more traditional blower and make a ton of noise.
Also interesting is the choice of Weber side draft carbs, presumably to mitigate hood clearance issues. This configuration makes Lathams instantly recognizable. It’s hard to think of a cooler (or more rare) accessory to put under the hood of your 60’s hot rod.
Turbos are commonplace these days. Go to any cars and coffee or Friday night cruise and you’re bound to see turbocharged cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes. But that wasn’t always the case. In the dark old days before computers and EFI made it easy to spin a turbo without melting down your engine, they were reserved only for those who were brave enough to try them. The Mallicoat Brothers and “Ohio” George Montgomery ran turbos on the dragstrip in the 60’s, and a twin-turbo hemi even appeared under the hood of the legendary Sadd, Teague, and Bentley roadster in the 70’s. Many others tried, and too often failed to manage the fuel mixture and temperature, resulting in burned pistons and other carnage. But, they made a ton of power.
This particular setup is a 400-inch small block Chevy out of a pulling truck. It also features a Hilborn injector and a Mallory magneto. We’re willing to bet that tuning this beast was a monumental chore, but it sure does look cool.
This is the blown, fuel-burning Hemi in the Demon funny car campaigned by the legendary Ramchargers team for the ’72-’73 seasons. With Clare Sanders at the wheel, it was the first funny car to break 230 mph. The immaculate restoration performed by Jim Matuszak uses a surprising amount of parts that are original to the car, including many of the engine pieces. The 484-incher sports its original mag, camshaft, and Danekas blower. Even the original red anodized connecting rods were found and reused.
You’re looking at the world’s fastest flathead. Ron Main’s FlatFire streamliner went 315.203 mph at Bonneville. It set a 302.674 mph 2-way record in XF/BFS (Vintage Flathead Blown Fuel Streamliner) powered by this beast. With the help of legends Dick and Mike Landy and Bruce Crower, the ’46 59A was extensively reworked to make an almost unbelievable 750 horsepower from 301 cubes. The intake and exhaust ports have been reversed (see the headers next the intake?) and a big Vortech supercharger feeds compressed air to the fabricated intake.
Here's another take on a flathead with a power adder. This one is based on a '46 59A block built by Dean Robertson. Known for out of the box thinking on hot rods and race cars, Robertson built this one for a Model A pickup that never materialized. The idea was to mount the radiator in the pickup bed, so Dean handbuilt the elaborate front drive gear and housing to run the water pump, alternator, and distributor. The unconventional induction system uses a Garrett variable-vane turbo and twin Harley-Davidson carburetors.
A hot rod mouse motor with a crank driven supercharger is always cool, but this particular engine has quite a story to tell. This small block spent time between the framerails of the legendary So-Cal ’34 coupe.
The equally legendary Jim Travis owned the car for 28 years. Initially, he installed a flathead and set a record at 142 mph. But the quest for speed led him to build this 300-inch small block with the help of Dean Moon and Fred Larsen. Ultimately, the car would go 236 mph at Bonneville with this setup!