The Plan
As with any build, be it a full on restoration or a race car like ours, a plan must be laid out before the work can begin. By clearly defining our goals, we can ration our budget accordingly and spend money where it is needed and save money where we can get away with it. The car must be able to pass NHRA tech, and we plan to have the chassis certified to run as quick as 8.50 in the quarter, so quality and safety will not be sacrificed. This car may never see 8- or even 9-second timeslips, but building the chassis to those standards gives us the peace of mind that this will be a safe race car.

When selecting an engine for this application, we carefully considered our choices, including the Hemi (we wish) and the small-block, and then made the logical decision of a big-block to power our bracket racer. The big-block has many advantages in this type of car; the first being displacement. Bigger engines just have the potential for more power than small ones, so it's really a no-brainer. The second advantage of a big-block is the torque that a big-block Chrysler makes. Shaving elapsed time at the starting line through torque equates to lower elapsed times in the quarter-mile, which is our ultimate goal. The third advantage of the big-block is we can make great power at a low rpm, which will ultimately make our engine last longer. Aside from the high number of start-ups a drag racing engine endures, rpm is the biggest killer of engine parts. By using a good oil system and keeping the revs under 7,000 rpm, we'll ensure the bearings will last a couple of seasons before needing to be changed. Keeping with the budget theme, we'll be using a mid-'70s 400 block and forged 440 crankshaft that we had around the shop to build a 451-inch, low-deck engine for the Barracuda.

The ultimate goal for this project is to build a safe, reliable, consistent, and fast bracket car on a fixed budget. In round numbers, just under $10,000 is what we have to spend on parts for this project. This seems like a significant amount of money until you start pricing the parts we'll need. New Edelbrock heads are some $1,300 and the rear tires alone will set us back almost $500. Our goal is to maximize the performance of this vehicle while still retaining a factory appearance, so we'll lighten it up with fiberglass parts and polycarbonate windows where we can.

Another of our goals is reliability, so a significant portion of our budget will be spent on the engine, transmission, and rear differential.