It is not often that Mopar Muscle will deliberately publish a story on a replicated factory drag car. A number of these machines eventually end up being passed off as something original, and this makes editors shrink back from anything questionable. However, when Brent Elmore showed up at a nationally-sanctioned drag race with this former six-cylinder Plymouth decked out like a Stage I Max Wedge, was willing to run it as hard as any original Max Wedge pilot might have, and won a class title with it, it was very hard to say no.
Elmore, 37, who lives in Crawfordsville, Indiana, with his wife Lisa, is clear about any questions up front. Its a clone. We built this car to have fun. Its street-tagged, but I enjoy running it in competition as well.
How well? At the 98 IHRAs Holley Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, a race devoted solely to Sportsman competition, Elmore took home the aforementioned class win in A/Pure Stock Automatic, and also ran the car in the Stock Eliminator program. Not bad for a debut. However, only this stock image is new to the veteran driver, who has run bracket cars on and off for the last 17 years, including a front-engined 340 rail that ran as quick as 9.08 seconds.
The car, which looks factory stock other than the IHRA series decals in the rear quarter windows, was purchased as a fun daily driver in 1986. At the time, the Elmores had no intention of building a Max Wedge drag car out of it. However, they already had a Max Wedge motor that was in a 67 GTX they were driving around on the street machine circuit. Incidentally, that particular machine, despite the radical engine design, was street driven, never trailered. With all the components available, the inevitable soon became reality.
I always wanted a Max Wedge car, says Brent with a grin. We decided we would create a street/strip car using what we already had. The motor came out, we sold the GTX body to a Chrysler engineer, and here is where we ended up.
Jerry Stamps, a good friend with body and paint experience, was given the 63 Savoy body and proceeded to do a full restoration on it. This included new sheetmetal in front end, as well as a complete floor pan from a donor car from Georgia. Everything that would unbolt was stripped and repainted, with Brent and Jerry doing all of the work themselves. Ohio-based parts supplier Wayne Brewer gathered up some of the more unique Max Wedge parts to give the car a more racing-oriented appearance, including a radio delete plate.
Meanwhile, the Stage I wedge block was gone over by Woody Machine in Thorntown, Indiana, who also balanced the parts. Brent assembled the parts himself. JE Pistons with the standard 11.1 compression ratio went into the short block, as did a Stock Eliminator camshaft from Lunati. Interestingly, Brent chose to use a pair of original exhaust manifolds instead of headers, with the exhaust system routed through a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. A pair of #3447 Carters are on top of the vintage intake, and the car uses the stock dual-point distributor and Mopar coil and wires.
Behind the engine is a push-button operated 727 TorqueFlite hooked to a 3,800 rpm-stall speed Turbo Action converter. Like the engine, Brent built the transmission himself with parts from Turbo Action, Mopar Performance, and A&A Transmission. He even located a rare Stewart-Warner speedometer cable adapter that allows the speedometer to work with a high gear ratio (finding that took three years). The 8-¾ rear houses a fairly steep 4.30 gear (this is a street/strip car), and, like most original Max Wedge cars, the only aid to traction is a set of stiff Super Stock springs. The 10-inch wide Mickey Thompson tires help make sure that the traction gets to the ground and is not going up in smoke.
After 10 years of effort, the car was finally ready to go. The day the car won class honors in Kentucky, the Elmores efforts resulted in a great 12.20 timeslip (factored from an eighth-mile pass), which is very comparable to numbers generated in the early days of the Max Wedge program.
The advent of nostalgia racing has resulted in a lot of replicated cars, some being driven by the original factory racers who made them famous. Brent and Lisa Elmore might not be famous in that regard, but this Max Wedge replica, like the fabled originals, is truly being used only as intended.