Greg built him this factory identical S/S 426, cross-rammed Hemi Barracuda, a near flawless replica of the original Super Stockers to come out of the Hurst modification shops in the late '67 season. New to the unbridled power of the legendary elephant motor, Ralph jokes that the first time he took this beast down the 1320, he wasn't sure if he was having a heart attack or an adrenaline rush. Ralph's introduction to drag racing has been one monstrous learning curve, improving with each pass. Unfortunately, all of the go-fast DNA of the S/S chipped away at the actual streetability of the Barracuda. But regardless of it's appropriateness for pulling into the grocery store, it's sure a hell of a lot of fun to ride in.
There's only one adjective to use when describing Craig Hill's '73 Duster-clean. The stock 318 suited teenaged Craig fine until he discovered a built 340 with a spun bearing in the junkyard. Getting the appropriate repairs made, the stout 11:1 compression small-block propelled his A-Body into a whole new world. Other additions would follow, such as a 727 TorqueFlite automatic and an 831/44 rear. Unfortunately, the life of a teenager's car doesn't usually last too long. The car suffered too many accidents to be worth the labor of a restoration. So Craig found another '73 Duster and transferred the heart and soul of the battered original to the new donor body. Though not the exact same car, Craig still claims that this is his first car. It's sentimentality, we suppose. Regardless of the VIN number, the car is outstanding. Immaculately clean, precision craftsmanship, and near-luxury-car-style road manners, the car was an all-around pleaser. Regardless of its 14-second passes, this Duster's overall road worthiness brought its scores up high enough to be one of our top three contenders.
In the Running
Coming from Lawrence, Kansas, Mark Bastemeyer's earth-moving '69 Road Runner had everything to be the winner of the '05 True Street Challenge. Having mini-tubbed the back of the B-Body, Mark had customized 12-inch-deep Magnums made to maintain the original look, but with an edge. Those thick meats out back were burned to inky blue clouds several times during the competition. Stout 4.30 gears packed into the Dana 60 could launch the 3,900 Plymouth at a consistent 1.690 60-foot time, or cruise through the Gear Vendor's overdrive at a leisurely 75 mph on the highway. Sure the cage and subframe connectors made the car a little more rigid than a streetcar would like to feel, but Mark's arsenal of go-fast goodies makes it all worth it (e.g., with a simple flip of a switch, an electric motor cuts off the exhaust to two quick dump-offs).
The Road Runner came into Mark's life as a lazy 440 four-speed with acres of hidden Bondo and filler. Opting to build the engine first and worry about the paneling second, the Plymouth received its first manifestation of gnarly horsepower with a set of stock Indy 440 heads and a Six-Pack setup. the car's power source would be reborn several times over with a new MP Mega Block, a 4.15 stroker crank, professional porting and polishing for the top end, and a new reciprocating assembly that warranted the outstanding production of nearly 750 horses on pump gas-naturally aspirated!
The car retains the stock appearance and paint scheme of the infamous mid-production year A-code Road Runner, but hides a very hungry wolf beneath its sheep's clothing.
Sixty-one-year-old Steve Hagberg of Berthoud, Colorado, can stomp you where you stand. Nothing about Steve or this plain-Jane-looking '66 Plymouth Belvedere is what it seems. This nice, kind-faced, silver-haired retired airline pilot was once an United States navy pilot in Vietnam, and this neighborly '66 two-door post coupe used to be raced exclusively before Steve garaged her when he was away making runs over the Viet Cong.