It was in the late '50s that thousands of street legal hot rods participated in organized drag races across the country. These-what were considered old cars then-ran in three major classes: Gas, Modified Production, and Modified Sports. These cars may have looked street legal, but they were in appearance only. they had working lights and somewhat functional interiors, but they were full-on race cars with huge blown Hemi engines, wide racing slicks, and front suspensions gaping skyward. They were the big draw at Sunday afternoon drag races. Racers soon discovered small, lightweight cars with really big engines were the fastest. Because those cars loosely resembled street vehicles, they had a huge fan base, and their short wheelbases and wildly overpowered engines made them exciting to watch. By the mid-to-late-'60s, these cars were really flying and pretty much on the ragged edge. This is also about the time that aftermarket manufacturers (such as cam grinders) began sponsoring cars and announcing their accomplishments in newspaper and magazine ads.
Ken Kull, from a small town in eastern Pennsylvania, has always had an affection for the Gasser cars. A couple years ago, Mopar Muscle featured Ken's restoration of the Hill Brothers' Red Baron Willys gasser. Now, Ken is at it again with the Red Baron II. The RBII started out as a vision Ken had about building the world's fastest '60s era correct AA/GSer. Beginning the process, Ken started with a real steel '33 Willys truck cab and doors, and handed them off to John Foust at John's Pro-Street and Custom in Leesburg, Pennsylvania. John spent the next couple of months welding, sanding, and prepping the body for the bright red paint, and, in true '60s fashion, gold leaf trim. Since this is a '33 Willys pickup, truck beds are not available by simply calling 1-800-GETCHERPARTS, so Ken made one himself. Ken now had the body, but that would be useless without a chassis.
If you ask anyone that knows anything about AA/GS racing if they know of Chuck Finders, you will get a racing history as long as a life story. In addition to his own gassers, Chuck Finders was involved with cars the likes of Stone Woods and Cook, Junior Thompson, and Ken's "other" Gasser, the Hill Brother's coupe. To say he knows a little bit about '60s-style Willys supercharged gassers is a huge understatement. Chuck and Ken started the chassis by using an original '33 Willys frame. Both rails were boxed for strength, and rear coil springs from a Corvair were coupled with Finders-built ladder bars that extend almost to the engine. At the other end of the ladder bars is a '58 Pontiac rearend with 4.56 gears. The front axle is a Don Long dragster-style unit supported by a transverse leaf spring and hairpin suspension. Even though these cars are designed to go straight, eventually the track ends and you have to turn. Steering is handled by using a steering box from a Corvair. With the chassis complete and the body finished, what was Ken going to do for an engine and tranny?
Before this car was even started, Ken made public statements that he was going to build the world's fastest AA/GS racer, and he planned to do it with all the car's components built like they were in the '60s. You heard correctly, all components of the car were built as if it were 1966. No extravagant 21st century technology here, just brute power and a heck of a scary ride. This technology, or lack thereof, even relates to the engine. The Hemi resting under the hood is a very early 426 cube with a vintage 6-71 Mooneyham blower supporting a tall Hilborn four pot injection system. Even the cam is from a vintage company. Schneider Racing cams supplied the custom ground stick and JE Pistons supplied the slugs. Backing up the big Hemi is a B&M transmission, and getting all this power to the pavement is a set of M&H racing tires mounted on Radir wheels.
Since Ken made the statement about building the world's fastest True Nostalgia Gasser, he's heard from a lot of friends about it, but on September 26, 2004 at Atco Raceway he backed it up. Ken's Red Baron II ran a blistering 8.366-second e.t. at 160.77 mph. Imagine trying to control a 99-inch wheelbase, straight axle car with the aerodynamics of a vending machine that quick. Now we know how Ken got the nickname The Wild Man.