Racer From The Start
It's hard for people to know the complete history of their cars when they aren't the original owner. For newer cars, this isn't really an issue, but when you're looking at a car whose value lies in its past, it is an issue. Lucky for Kenny Bailey of Eldridge, Iowa, he got the full scoop.
Kenny bought this '69 Cougar XR7 convertible from a gentleman named Norman Swanson out of New Jersey. Norman purchased this car back in 1971, when it was still relatively new, and immediately started drag racing it. He swapped the four-speed manual transmission for an automatic, which is a pretty common swap for that type of racing. Somewhere along the way, he set an NHRA speed record that held for many years after the car was retired. Norman Swanson's uncle owed the local Ford dealership that sponsored famous racer Al Joniec, who worked on the car once or twice. You may know him as the '68 Winter National winner driving the '68 Mustang Cobra Jet. In 2009, the Al Joniec tribute '08 Cobra Jet took home the win.
When Kenny got wind of this history, he was really excited to find some photos in Internet archives to support the story. He didn't have much luck on his own. He was contacted by Charlie Morris, author of countless drag racing books, who had Al Joniec's personal email address. After a careful interview, Charlie felt Kenny passed his test and gave him the email address. Kenny traded messages back and forth with Mr. Joniec, who remembered the car clearly. Al mentioned that back home the Cougar was a sore subject because it raced in the same class as his wife, defeating her every time. She always blamed Al and the Cougar for her losses.
Today Kenny enjoys the car not as a racer, but as a weekend car. Kenny removed the transplanted automatic and put a four-speed back in because this was one of only 31 four-speed 428 Ram-Jet convertibles ever built.
By The Numbers
1969 Ford Cougar XR7
Kenny Bailey, 46 * Eldridge, IA
475 hp, 500 lb-ft of torque
|Type: ||Ford FE 428 Cobra Jet with Ram Air |
|Oiling: ||high-volume replacement |
|Rotating assembly: ||forged TRW pistons |
| ||for 10.6:1 compression |
|Cylinder heads: ||ported and polished |
| ||factory heads with stainless valves |
|Camshaft: ||COMP Cams hydraulic flat tappet |
|Induction: ||factory aluminum police |
| ||interceptor manifold, |
| ||750-cfm Holley carb |
|Ignition: ||Mallory Uni-Lite conversion, |
| ||Pertronix coil |
|Fuel system: ||Carter mechanical fuel pump |
|Fasteners: ||ARP |
|Transmission/shifter: ||Toploader four-speed, |
| ||Hurst Competition Plus shifter |
|Rear axle: ||Ford 9-inch with 31-spline |
| ||Moser axles, 3.50 gears, |
| ||and an Auburn Detroit Locker |
|Wheels: ||15X7 chromed reproduction |
|Tires: ||BFGoodrich Radial T/A |
| ||225/60R15 and 245/60R15 |
Out To Pasture?
Growing up in the '70s, Wayne Mello's family's cars were all what we know today as classic muscle cars. Wayne's big brother had the baddest Chevelle on the block, and Wayne always thought that was cool.
When he was all grown up, he didn't gravitate to these American muscle cars at first, but rather was intrigued by the European exotic cars and Japanese sport bikes. He has owned many of those rides, but now he's got a couple of kids to look after. He wanted something he could strap some kid seats in and go for a cruise. The petite cockpit of the exotics wouldn't work. Thinking back to his early years, he was inspired. He came across this '66 Chevelle wearing Marina Blue paint. Wayne is a shifter kart racer, and rides a 1,000cc super bike, so hard acceleration is something he has quite a tolerance to. His first drive in his new Chevelle left him with much to be desired, so he bought a cherry picker and pulled the tired 396 and swapped in a 471-inch big-block Chevy to help propel the beast.
To handle the power increase, Wayne swapped the stock suspension and four-wheel drum brakes with lowering components from Hotchkis and Eibach, with a disc brake conversion from CPP. He told us the car was downright scary (in a bad way) before he made these changes.
Wayne has unique tastes, and we really dig it. The car came with 17-inch Torque Thrust wheels that he replaced with 15-inch rallye wheels. These rallyes still allow him to pack 295mm rear tires, leaving only a paperclip thick gap.
His buddies joke that he's being put out to pasture since he got this car. He has cut down on the amount of racing he's doing out of care for his kids, and he's cruising around in an old car. To his Ferrari buddies, this is a step in the wrong direction, but they just don't get it. Wayne does find himself surrounded by an age group he's not quite at yet (at the local Doughnut Derelict show in Huntington Beach, California) but he doesn't mind.
By The Numbers
Wayne Mello, 49 * Huntington Beach, CA
|Type: ||471ci big-block Chevy |
| ||built by VortecPro |
|Rotating assembly: ||GM production |
| ||forged crank |
|Cylinder heads: ||"781" oval-port heads |
|Camshaft: ||Isky 280 Mega Cam |
|Valvetrain: ||Crane rockers |
|Induction: ||Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, |
| ||850-cfm Holley |
|Ignition: ||Mallory HEI distributor |
|Exhaust: ||2½-inch exhaust |
|Transmission/shifter: ||Muncie M21, |
| ||Hurst shifter |
|Rear axle: ||GM 12-bolt with posi |
|Front suspension: ||Eibach lowering springs, |
| ||Hotchkis sway bar |
|Rear suspension: ||Hotchkis sway bar |
| ||and trailing arms |
|Brakes: ||CPP four-wheel disc |
|Wheels: ||15-inch Rallye wheels |
|Tires: ||BFGoodrich Radial T/A |
| ||155/80R15 and 295/50R15 |
Car owner and builder, Pat Ciambrello, has been into racing longer than he can remember. His father was part of A.J. Foyt's racing team at Indy in 1964 and 1965. A.J. has quite an incredible history, as he is the only driver in history to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, 24 Hours of Daytona, and 24 Hours of Le Mans. He's got almost 160 event wins under his belt, and now sits at the head of his company, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, which fields many race teams. With this kind of racing involvement at home, Pat would naturally get the racing bug. Whenever the racers needed a place to work on their cars, Pat's pops would lend them space in his corner gas station service bay. He desperately wanted a car of his own, and when his brother bought a brand-new '66 Mustang from the dealership, Pat swore he would get a Mustang of his own someday. Only 10 years old at the time, he would have to wait.
His day finally came and he found a '65 2+2 Fastback that needed a little work. Over the last 15 years, Pat has torn it down and started over transforming it into a Shelby clone. He knew he could never afford the real thing, so this was the next best option in his mind. One of the upgrades he made was the installation of a 351 crate engine. This was dandy until he plopped the Paxton supercharger atop it, and blew it up.
After pulling the destroyed Windsor, he decided to rebuild the whole car with a more modern driveline combination and a lot more power. He also repainted it with the Hertz gold-on-black color scheme. Now he is really glad he didn't get an original Shelby because he's having fun customizing this one.
By The Numbers
1965 Mustang Fastback
Pat Ciambrello, 54 * Levittown, PA
662 hp, 628 lb-ft torque
|Type: ||351 Windsor, stroked to 408 ci |
| ||by Trans Am Racing |
|Oiling: ||Ford HV oil pump |
|Cylinder heads: ||aluminum |
| ||with 2.08-/1.625-inch valves |
|Camshaft: ||COMP Cams solid roller |
|Valvetrain: ||COMP rockers |
| ||with titanium retainers |
|Induction: ||ported Edelbrock Torker 2 intake, |
| ||Paxton supercharger at 8 pounds of boost |
|Ignition: ||MSD 6AL with boost control |
|Cooling: ||Be Cool radiator |
| ||with twin 13-inch fans |
|Fuel system: ||Aeromotive pump and regulator, |
| ||780-cfm Holley flowed to 980 cfm |
|Exhaust: ||Hedman 1 5/8-inch headers, |
| ||JBA mufflers |
|Fasteners: ||ARP |
|Transmission/shifter: ||Tremec |
| ||3550 five-speed, |
| ||Hurst short throw shifter |
|Driveshaft: ||4-inch Denny's aluminum |
|Rear axle: ||9-inch Ford |
| ||with Moser 31-spline axles, |
| ||Auburn diff, and 3.89 gears |
|Front suspension: ||TCP coilover kit, |
| ||1 1/8-inch front sway bar, |
| ||Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion |
|Rear suspension: ||Air Ride AirBar, |
| ||VariShock adjustable shocks, |
| ||¾-inch sway bar |
|Brakes: ||Baer 13-inch rotors, stainless lines |
|Body: ||Shelby brake scoops, side glass |
|Paint: ||black basecoat, clearcoat, |
| ||with gold Shelby stripes |
|Wheels: ||Boyd Coddington Junk Yard Dog, |
| ||17x7 and 17x8 |
|Tires: ||BFGoodrich g-Force KDW, |
| ||225/45R17 |
Mothers Picture Perfect Award
This is the place to show off your pride and joy to the rest of mankind, so we figure those readers who took the time to capture a really cool shot of their hot rod should get a little bonus. Mothers agreed, and decided to come to the party with some freebies for the best picture submitted to PHR.
Each month, the editors at PHR will sift through the images and pick the one with the best composition, lighting, and overall quality. The winner will get a cool assortment of Mothers products to keep his or her ride looking nice and shiny. Mail us a photograph or, if you're a modern guy, email us a digital image. Remember that digital images need to be 300 dpi, and the bigger the image, the larger it can run. Also, be sure to include info on the car, along with your name and address. Good luck!