El Toro. The bull. A more appropriate name we cannot imagine. With its altered wheelbase, nose-up stance, Hemi power, and Hilborn injectors poking over the hood line, El Toro is every bit the image of a pissed-off bovine with sharp horns.
Purchased by Ethard "Ed" Halsey in 1965 as an original Hemi Super Stocker, it was a veteran of the Super Stock circuit of the Midwest. in late 1965, based on a set of factory blueprints acquired from the legendary Dick Maxwell, Ed transformed his Belvedere into the altered wheelbase wonder you see here. He then ran the Midwestern AFX series against the likes of such legends as Dickie Harrel, the Ramchargers, and a whole host of other notable racers. On a small dose of nitro, the Bull had run a best of 9.90, and after the '66 season the Plymouth was retired. It sat until 1973, when it changed hands a number of times and was raced sporadically. Fast-forward to 1997. Bob Pickel purchased the Plymouth, and a painstaking restoration was performed over the course of four long years. The Belvedere now runs in Nostalgia races, and it has posted a best e.t. of 10.40 at 126 mph. Still in the throws of tuning, the times are being whittled down on every outing. Don't be surprised if its past low e.t. is eventually bested. Old Hemi cars seem to age like fine red wine, but this one will kick you in the butt like a good bourbon.
A 426 Hemi still powers this beast, and the cackling exhaust note is provided by the 14:1 Ross pistons squeezing methanol in the '65 vintage block. A Hilborn mechanical-fuel-injection unit tops the impressive mill, hindering road visibility, but what a sweet sight it is. A 727 with a Cheetah valvebody is the trans of choice in this '65, while a 5,200-stall converter ensures wheels-up launches. a Dana 60 with TK gears makes sure the bull launches hard without breakage. Mickey Thompson slicks mounted on American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels are responsible for traction, while a Simpson parachute and Wilwood brakes arrest the forward motion.
The exterior was returned to its former glory with a covering of Candy Apple Red paint, applied by Mike Diehl, while the lettering is by "Easy Ed." Auto meter gauges monitor the vital functions of the Elephant motor, and a 14-point cage provides a sense of security, as well as rollover protection. With Bob at the wheel, good friend Craig Handley performs crew-chief duties when the Bull is in the ring.
So there you have it. A race car from its inception, and 39 years later it looks as good as the day it rolled off the assembly line. By the time you read this, El Toro should be running in the nines again. You just can't keep an old Hemi car down.