In the '64 season, General Motor's ban on corporate racing left a gaping hole that Ford and Chrysler were happy to fill. The 413 and 426 wedge engines were replaced with the reborn Hemi that year, and Ford stepped up to the line with their 427 Hi-Riser. Places such as the '64 Winternationals became the site of corporate-sponsored grudge matches between the blue oval and Mopar racers. Chrysler refused to be bested and made all the arrangements to win, regardless of the cost.
The advent of the factory lightweight race car caused white caps in an already rippled pool. The '64 Plymouths and Dodges were stripped of unnecessary poundage, such as adjustable seats, heater boxes, air conditioning, and radios. the vehicles' front clips were replaced with aluminum bumpers, supports, fenders, and a hood with a distinguishable scoop. In addition, Plymouth shaved off extra pounds by eliminating the two centermost headlamps from the grille and covering up the holes by splicing two grilles together. Chrysler's aggressive front on the NHRA circuit made an audible thump on the racing and enthusiast world.
It was during that legendary '64 season that Larry Wolfe, a high school student in Wichita, Kansas, would find himself watching the likes of Ted Detar, Merle Yost Plymouth, Harry Baker Motors, Whitey Myers, Tri States Motors, Larry Erickson, and Jim Hall battle it out on the M&N Raceway tarmac just outside of town. The sound of the uncorked Hemi Plymouths resonating over the acres of gray asphalt sent shivers down his spine. the undulating sound of the hearty-cammed Hemi would haunt his automotive enthusiast's mind for years afterwards.
After a bad roller lifter...
After a bad roller lifter chewed up the oil-pump shaft and sapped the elephant dry of oil pressure, the wounded plant was pulled and punched out to 485 cubes via a 4.150 stroker crank and a fresh bore.
Forty years and several other cars would come between Larry and his adolescent automotive fantasy of owning one of those elephant-packing Plymouth B-Bodies. A '32 highboy roadster, a '56 F100, and a '64 Riviera would tickle his fancy, but never quench his desire for the first-generation 426 Hemi.
Five years ago, Larry purchased a clean, two-door post Savoy that had been converted into a 340-powered Pro Street competitor. Even with the Savoy in his garage, Larry kept on the prowl until he stumbled across this '64 Pro Street Belvedere. It wasn't an authentic factory lightweight B-Body, but it looked close enough, plus it already had the right powerplant-the Hemi.
Purchased already tubbed for...
Purchased already tubbed for Pro Street racing, Larry's '64 sports a fuel cell and a differential gear oil cooler replete with its own electric fan. We've seen these on road courses, NASCAR, and dirt track cars before, but never on a Pro Street vehicle-interesting.
Once home, Larry began to notice more and more faults with the altered Belvedere. So much so, he decided it would be best to rebuild the Plymouth himself, with the help and skills of friend and car builder, Galen Frick.
During the drive to Galen's home, a roller lifter shattered, sending debris through the plant, chewing up the oil-pump shaft, and sucking the Hemi dry of oil pressure. Fearing a complete catastrophic engine failure, Larry and Galen yanked the plant and sent it to engine builder Duane Saum at Saum Engineering in Wichita.
The '68 casting block was given the full machine-shop treatment, opened up, cleaned, and stroked to total 485 inches with a 4.150-inch crankshaft. a Bullet camshaft with Crane hydraulic lifters control the stainless Manley valves. The block and heads, iron '68 castings, are the only components that remained the same as when Larry bought it. A Mopar Performance dual-plane aluminum intake was modified slightly for improved flow and port matching. A Holley 1050 Dominator supplies the powerhouse with fuel, while a Joe Hunt distributor and MSD 6AL box supply the fire. Large, coated tti headers flow down underneath the floorboards into a pair of 3-inch Flowmasters supplying very little, if any, sound deadening.