The name Ed Iskenderian is a legend among racers worldwide. The racing and performance industry pioneer turns 100 on July 10, 2021! You can help celebrate Ed’s 100th birthday as Isky Cams will be throwing a birthday bash July 10 at LTR Racing Engines (29330 Highway 178 Onyx, CA). There will be a car show and cackle fest as well.
From the Isky Cams website: Ed’s life history parallels the proverbial success story. He was born in 1921 in the grapevine country of Tulare County, CA. His future as a winemaker never materialized because several heavy frosts destroyed the vineyards. These conditions forced the Iskenderian family to move to Los Angeles.
While attending Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles, Ed’s pet project was building a Model T Ford roadster. Ed learned the fundamentals of mechanics by working with the Model T Fords and later adapted the overhead conversion by Frontenac (more commonly known as Fronty), as well as the George Riley head known to the racers in those days as the “multi-flathead.”
Experiencing repeated crankshaft failure, Ed began searching for an engine with a stronger lower end. He examined the Ford Model A and B and found them to be only slightly stronger than the Model T. Turning his attention toward the later Ford V8 flathead engine, he found the crank to be much more rugged with larger bearings and a counter balanced crankshaft. He installed special Maxi “F” type cylinder heads (with overhead exhaust valves) and slingshot intake manifold. Ed had the combustion chambers in the heads cast iron filled and he then re-contoured the combustion chambers as advised by his good friend Ed Winfield. The actual compression ratio turned out to be a whopping 13:1, an extremely high ratio for the early days of hot rodding. This was Ed Iskenderian’s first hot rod and it still occupies a corner of his plant today.
After graduating, Ed obtained mechanical experience working as an apprentice tool and die maker. This is where Ed developed the skill and experience of always striving for quality and perfection. His career was interrupted by WWII. Because of his interest in speed, Ed decided to try his hand with an even faster vehicle and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He served with the Air Transport Command, repeatedly flying supplies to the islands of the Pacific.
After his war time absence, Ed lost no time in getting back to his hot rod and getting it ready for California’s dry lake bed meets. When rebuilding his V8, he wanted to obtain a special camshaft. However, the boom had hit hot rodding and there was a great deal of business for the few racing camshaft manufacturers on the west coast. Their production schedules were taxed, which resulted in slow delivery. During the five-month waiting period for his special camshaft, Ed decided to enter the cam grinding business. He bought a used conventional cylindrical grinder and drawing on his tool making and mechanical experience, Ed converted it to a universal cam grinding machine. This machine produced camshafts with a noticeable improvement in performance over the conventional racing Ford camshafts. Ed’s cams were the first to produce 1 hp per cubic inch on gasoline in postwar OHV V8 Dodge Hemi’s and 1.3 hp per cubic inch on gasoline in postwar OHV 283 Chevy V8s.