Rolling up his sleeves, Bruce removed the starter, which had a casting date of April 6, 1964. Bruce immediately realized this engine belonged to a factory Super Stock machine. Carroll explained he bought the engine in a '64 two-door post car from a fellow named George Nesbit around 1966. Carroll had raced it in the late '60s and early '70s. After suffering a breakdown at the Wadesboro dragstrip in 1971, he tried to repair it with little success. So he sold the body and stored the engine for a project '68 Barracuda race car that he had begun to piece together.

Bruce, once again, began to do his homework. He discovered that George Nesbit, a novice racer during the heyday of NHRA, had employed Bruce's neighbor's brother-in-law, Don Duncan. Don had made a name for himself as a successful local racing legend widely known on the NASCAR circuit and had served as the engine man for George Nesbit. A dinner meeting was setup between Bruce, his neighbor, and Don. Don recalled the car well, as George Nesbit had bought it new. Yet the origin of the engine did not begin with the '64 two-door post that Carroll had pulled it from. Rather, the engine came from a turquoise-over-turquoise '64 Belvedere two-door hardtop, sporting a push-button automatic-a factory-true Super Stock car. During the '64 Daytona 500, George witnessed the infamous 1-2-3 Mopar finish, which converted him into a Hemi loyalist. Deciding he had to have the fastest Plymouth available, he promptly ordered a '64 Belvedere push-button Super Stock Hemi car from Walter Chrysler Plymouth. George had unsuccessfully tried to race the car, unable to get the factory lightweight sedan to hook up at the line. Not "technically minded," George decided to partner up with someone who was more apt with hand tools. He paired up with Don, who had a '41 Willys that was prime to race as a gasser. George employed Don to pull the engine from the turquoise '64 to go "A-Gas" racing with the Willys.

When George left to serve his country, Don continued competing, winning again and again. Don recalled his most harrowing run, going through the traps with no brakes at 120 mph. A systematic brake failure had sapped the stopping power from the Willys, hurdling Don towards a dirt road that ran off the end of the strip. Don figured he skipped across the sand and gravel at about 110 mph, coasting to a gradual stop with little more than a bent front axle. Once George returned, he had no need for the Belvedere body, so it was sold to a body shop in Shelby, North Carolina, with less than 62 miles on the odometer in 1966. Finally having their fill of straight-axle mayhem, the duo pulled the engine and transmission from the Willys and dropped them into a '64 Plymouth two-door post car in 1966, and sold it to Carroll Hendrix shortly thereafter. It wasn't until September 2005, that Carroll agreed to sell the original elephant motor back to George for substantially more than what he had previously sold the whole car. The Willys today is found in a public museum in exactly the same condition as when it was raced, minus the legendary engine and transmission that remained in Carroll's garage since 1971. Carroll sold the Super Stock intake assembly to John Aruza in 1990.

Bruce called John to inquire if he had known about the '64 engine. John replied he was unable to purchase the complete engine, but was able to buy the cross-ram intake and carburetor setup, which he later assembled onto a Hemi for a street rod for Richard Petty. Unfortunately, the King was upset because he didn't like that particular setup. John not wanting the King unhappy with him, quickly changed it out and lost track of it.

The Super Stock '64 elephant was intended for a project Barracuda that also never came about. in 1971, when Carroll was racing the post car at the Wadesboro dragstrip, he noticed a peculiar '68 Hemi Barracuda. The engine was in bad shape, and extensive acid dipping to the fenders, doors, and decklid had begun to take its toll. Apart from the cosmetic woes, the Barracuda was well assembled with quality tube-frame fabrication and chassis modifications. But what drew Carroll to the Barracuda were the distinct raised letters spelling out Sox & Martin on the doors. He inquired about the painted-over paint scheme, and learned the owner had purchased the car from Buddy Martin about a year and a half earlier. Confirming this was the Sox & Martin name stamped on components found throughout the A-Body. On the last qualifying run before the quarter-finals, the owner of the former S&M Barracuda grenaded the Hemi, puncturing a hole through the block near the fuel pump with a wayward connecting rod. The owner was so infuriated he hastily sold the complete, though wounded, Barracuda to Carroll, even personally delivering it to his house. Over the next 16 months, Carroll would salvage what useable parts he could from the Barracuda and transfer them to a substantially more solid Barracuda with a more modern tube-chassis. Thinking nothing of it at the time, the unused portion of the body was trashed. All that remained was the decklid, fenders, engine throttle hardware, seats, and the Dana 60. Some other items were used as well, but for the most part, the rest of the legendary Sox & Martin car is lost to the ages.

Carroll became tangled in a series of personal dilemmas that impeded the progress of his '68 Barracuda, and it was left to sit outside his shop for over thirty years. When Bruce was walking through the paces of the Super Stock 426 Hemi's background, Carroll took him out back to show him the incomplete drag racer.

What started as a wild goose chase to hunt down an original engine evolved into one of the largest high-performance Mopar mother lodes in recent history.

But what struck us at Mopar Muscle-more than all the high profile names involved, rare production numbers, and big dollar potential of all this gear-was the fact they still exist. Many people think they have all been hoarded and/or eaten away by corrosion. Rather, Bruce's discovery should help us all have faith that there are still Charger 500s, four-speed Super Bees, 383 Barracudas, and Hemi GTXs out there. You just need to look.