When we think about drag racing, there is always that old idea that more is better. That's certainly true when talking about heads-up racing, but for foot-brake brackets there's more than one way to take the finish line. Moreover, for people like Rodney Hargis, the fun is getting respect by building something most people might overlook.
Rodney, 26, is one of a group of guys in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area who like to make good horsepower from one of Chrysler's best-known economy motors, the 225-inch Slant Six. In many ways almost indestructible, the Slant Six can be successfully used in drag racing competition when scienced out the right way.
To start with, the motor can be popped out quite a bit. The one currently under the bonnet of Hargis' '62 Lancer was overbored by .100 before it was filled with hot parts. By machining .150 off the top of the block and an additional .100 off of the head surface, the compression was boosted a considerable amount (the amount estimated is in the 11.5:1 range with a standard piston). With the whole assembly balanced by Wayne Smith of Black Jack Automotive, the bottom end spins up to 6200 rpm without problems.
Meanwhile, the twelve 1.84 intake and 1.50 exhaust valves are actuated by a .540/.555 lift custom-ground camshaft. Clifford Research provided the intake, which now supports a 650 Holley double pumper and the headers. An MSD ignition system rounds out the package.
Behind this is a beefed 904 Torqueflite that has a 4200 stall converter mounted to the flexplate. The major change to this is the reverse valve body, and Rodney decided to get a floor shifter to replace the dash-mounted buttons. A 4.56 ring gear keeps the engine in its rpm band before pushing the horsepower to the ground through a pair of M/T slicks. Shift points are 5200 rpm with the engine going to 6100 during the last few feet of a quarter mile.
Other interior changes included removing whatever wasn't needed for 11/48- and 11/44-mile sprints, a four-point cage, lightweight front seats, a Grant steering wheel, and a brace of AutoMeter gauges. Since the car often runs in the evening, a shift light is also mounted where it can be easily seen.
The Dodge Lancer platform proved perfect for the Six. In fact, it was advertised as a real runner at the time of its introduction, when it was equipped with the Hyper Pak 225 option. Rodney has had the car since 1981 (before he got his drivers license) and has slowly converted it to its present competition-only format. The only major changes to its outward appearance are the Cragar Drag Lite rims and the offset hood scoop, which was fabricated by his brother Pat, who also sprayed the turquoise-blue Dupont paint now on the car.
So how well does the package work? How about 13.03 in the quarter and 8.01 in the eighth? Rodney was the 1998 Slant Six Club drag champ, winning six events that season, and has also taken home quite a few show trophies with the unique machine. The next plan is to build an all-out motor around one of the scarce early '60s aluminum blocks Rodney has acquired, which could take the "lightweight heavyweight" into the high elevens.