Rather than toss the original 350 Pontiac motor for a more popular 400 or 455, Tim and his son, JT, rebuilt the 350 on a skinny budget, reusing the stock crank, rods, block, heads, water pump, and oil pan. (All Pontiac V-8s, regardless of displacement, share the same exterior dimensions and the same 3.75-inch stroke crank, making repairs, rebuilds, and aftermarket parts a relative cinch.) Tim’s a fan of Edelbrock stuff, giving the nod to a Performer intake, Thunder Series carb, and air cleaner assembly. COMP Cams supplied the Thumpr cam, roller rockers, and valvesprings. Power tops out at a healthy 400 hp.
If you’ve seen the Moonshiners TV show, you’ve heard this motor’s seductive crackle, and that’s due to the snappy COMP Cams Thumpr camshaft. Fresh air flows through a 4-inch Edelbrock air cleaner assembly, into a 650-cfm Thunder Series Edelbrock fuel mixer and Performer dual-plane intake, then gets ignited by a late-model GM HEI ignition, and expelled through 1⅝-inch FlowTech ceramic-coated headers. For the rest of the path, Tim bent his own 2.5-inch dual exhaust and mated it to a pair of Flowsound mufflers and some Trans Am-style turn-down tips. Valvetrain duties are handled by COMP Cams valvesprings, COMP 1.5-ratio roller rockers, and stock-length pushrods. Tim has never dyno’d the engine or run it at the drags, but he figures power output at a conservative 400 hp. On a side note, Tim says final assembly and installation of the engine happened just like we saw it on TV—with about three hours edited out by the Discovery Channel.
As for the interior, Tim’s ’74 LeMans is a colonnade lover’s dream. Other than a rip in the driver-side seat (which was repaired by Waller’s Upholstery in Danville, Virginia), the cockpit was mint the day he pulled it out of that North Carolina barn. There were no cracks in the dash, no missing trim, no worn touch points, and a perfect steering wheel with no cracks. Even the carpet was pristine due to some clear plastic covering the entire floorboard. The only upgrades Tim made were a set of Sunpro gauges (water temp, oil pressure, voltage), and a Sunpro tach on the transmission hump.
No doubt you’re pondering the fate of Tim and Tickle, and the quirky little ’74 LeMans. Will there be a second season? Will the LeMans return to the scene of the crime? We aren’t allowed to say just yet, but let’s put it this way—in our estimation the Discovery Channel would be out of their minds to walk away from such a wildly popular reality series. To learn more about Tim Smith, the LeMans, the moonshine, and any updates on the return of the show, log on to www.TimSmithMoonshine.com
Tim Smith On Hillbilly Hot Rodding
Hanging with Tim Smith at the moonshiner’s redoubt was undeniably cool. During our two-day photo shoot, we frequently whipped out the smartphone and rolled video. We brought up the subject of Southern-style automotive improvising, and Tim laid it out for us like this: “I got some redneck buddies that’s got some hot cars. They got crazy stuff. I mean they throw stuff together. Talking ’bout they put Pontiac motors—I had one guy that’s got a ’66 Chevrolet truck, and it’s got a 455 Pontiac in it. They love them Pontiac motors. If something’s running, and it runs good, and you wreck it, you don’t want to lose the engine and running gear, so you pull the motor and transmission out and you stick it in whatever else is a good body. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be a Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, whatever. [Around here] you may raise the hood, you may find anything. It might be from a Cadillac to whatever—in a truck. We’ll fabricate a motor mount in a minute. You know, throw a crossmember in, put a transmission mount on it, cut the driveshaft, and hook it together.”
All told, Tim has about $8K...
All told, Tim has about $8K tied up in the car—and that includes getting the car for free. The LeMans was literally saved from the crusher in 2006 by Tim’s son, JT, who at age 9, laid the defining guilt trip on dear ol’ dad. As a result, the car is now ensconced permanently in moonshine lore.
Once Tim and JT decided to...
Once Tim and JT decided to fix up the ’74 LeMans, they rebuilt the stock brakes and swapped out the 14-inch rolling stock for larger-diameter 15-inch wheels with Cooper Cobra radials (225/70R15, front; 275/60R15, rear). Hey, not all roads are paved, Pro Touring guy!