Tag: Ben Branch

The 1968 AMC Javelin “Bonneville Speed Spectacular” World Record Setter – Ben Branch @Silodrome

The 1968 AMC Javelin “Bonneville Speed Spectacular” World Record Setter – Ben Branch @Silodrome

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This was the AMC Javelin that won the “Bonneville Speed Spectacular,” setting a new C-Production class record of 161.733 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats with Craig Breedlove at the wheel in 1968.

The competition was sponsored by AMC and CarCraft Magazine. They took three Javelins and assigned them to three separate three-man teams who had applied to enter the contest. The team with the fastest car then won all three cars – one for each man.

Fast Facts – A “Bonneville Speed Spectacular” AMC Javelin

  • The name Craig Breedlove needs to introduction to anyone even vaguely familiar with land speed record racing. He’s a five-time world land speed record holder and the first person in history to reach 500 mph and 600 mph on the ground.
  • The car you see here is the winner of the 1968 “Bonneville Speed Spectacular,” a competition that was held at the Bonneville Salt Flats. This car set a C-Production class record of 161.733 mph.
  • Three 1968 AMC Javelins were entered in total, each was modified by a team of three contestants, the winning team with the fastest car then won all three cars – one each.
  • The AMC Javelin was developed as an answer to the Ford Mustang and the wildly popular “Pony Car” genre. The Javelin was released in 1968, and the “Bonneville Speed Spectacular” was developed to drum up publicity for the new car.

The 1968 Bonneville Speed Spectacular

In 1968 with the release of the Javelin, AMC set to work creating a publicity stunt that would win the company coverage from coast to coast, and permanently link the new pony car challenger with two things: a world speed record at Bonneville and the Craig Breedlove – the national hero and famous land speed record setter.

This competition was co-sponsored by Car Craft Magazine. Readers of the magazine were invited to enter a competition to join one of three teams that would be modifying three Javelins in the hope of setting a new C-Production class record.

The Three Teams

Each applicant had answer some true or false questions and write a paragraph selling their mechanical aptitude. Nine winners were selected and divided into three teams, they were: Carl Tracer, Alynn Luessen, and Bruce Nottingham on Team #1.

Charlie Seabrook, Pete Darnell, and Matt Strong on Team #2, and Bill Tinker, Jim Riley, and Larry Lechner on Team #3.

The engine remains in original condition, still including all of the modifications made to the car by the team who won the competition and set the new record.

Interestingly, Pete Darnell of the winning team was flown in from the Vietnam War to compete.

Each of the teams modified their AMC Javelins to the best of their abilities and Breedlove drove each of them down a marked course on the Bonneville Salt Flats in November of 1968.

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For Sale:The Original 1977 AMC AM Van 4×4 Concept Vehicle – Ben Branch @Silodrome

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The styling of the AM Van is clearly the work of AMC designer Richard Teague, the father of the Gremlin, Pacer, AMX, Javelin, and the Jeep Cherokee to name but a few.

This is the 1977 AMC AM Van, a concept vehicle that was planned to have a four-wheel drive powertrain headed by a turbocharged engine – both quite novel ideas for a production car in the 1970s.

This van was part of AMC’s seven car “Concept 80” traveling motor show, intended to showcase to the American public their vision for the future of the automobile. The AMC AM Van was by far the most popular vehicle in the show, resoundingly winning the public vote everywhere it was shown.

Fast Facts – The 1977 AMC AM Van

  • The 1977 AMC AM Van was penned by legendary automotive stylist Richard Teague, the creator of the AMX, Javelin, Jeep Cherokee and a slew of other designs.
  • AMC was known for unusual and oftentimes quite prescient vehicle designs, including the likes of the Gremlin, the Eagle 4×4, and the SX/4 4×4.
  • Had it been approved for production the AMC AM Van would likely have sold well, the 1970s were a time when vans were king, and with the included turbocharged engine and 4×4 drivetrain the van would have ticked a lot of boxes for a lot of consumers.
  • Sadly the van didn’t get the green light for production, and now just this single fiberglass bodied concept vehicle remains to show the world what might have been.

The AMC “Concept 80” Traveling Motor Show

The AMC Concept 80 traveling motor show was unveiled in 1977 and sent on a seven city tour of the United States, to showcase the future direction of the American Motors Corporation

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The Ardun V8: Hot Rod Engine Royalty – Ben Branch @Silodrome

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This is an original Ardun V8 engine, or perhaps more correctly this is a modified Ford Flathead V8 engine with Ardun heads and a slew of other upgrades that is now vastly more powerful than it was from the factory.

This highly modified flathead V8 is topped with eight Weber carburetors and a pair of Ardun heads, meaning it’ll be vastly more powerful than the engines originally were from Ford.

The Ardun OHV heads developed a legendary reputation in the hot rod world, they allowed people to modify their Ford Flathead V8 relatively quickly into an engine producing 200 bhp or more, up from 65 bhp in stock trim.

This 15 minute long video gives an excellent look deep inside a Ford Flathead V8 that’s been fitted with Ardun OHV heads.

The name Ardun is a portmanteau of Arkus and Duntov, the hyphenated surname of Zora Arkus-Duntov and his brother Yuri, immigrants from Belgium by way of Russia who would go on to have an oversized impact on both the hot rod and sports car worlds in the United States around the mid-20th century.

The two men had arrived in the United States as refugees after the outbreak of WWII in Europe, they immediately turned their attention and engineering acumen to helping the war effort. They founded the Ardun Mechanical Corporation in 1942, initially producing dies and punches for ammunition and later produced parts for aircraft.

After the war they retooled, Zora and George Kudasch designed a set of high-performance overhead valve heads for the flathead Ford V8. The Ford Flathead V8 had become an almost ubiquitous performance engine in the United States since its introduction in 1932, as it was cheap to buy and easy to fix.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the engine was its propensity for overheating, largely due to an inefficient exhaust port design that siamesed the two inner ports on each side. This mostly affected trucks, but it reduced performance in automobiles too, and Zora knew that a good overhead valve head would solve the issue once and for all.

He took his design concepts to Ford who showed no interest whatsoever, a significant mistake from the company as just a few short years later they would witness the introduction of the Chevy small block V8 – an engine that blew them out of the water.

Zora and Yuri put the heads into production themselves, several flaws in the original design came to light, and significant time was spent ironing them out and turning them into a reliable, pair of high-performance heads.

Hot rods and land speed racers fitted with Ardun heads set a slew of world records out on the Bonneville Salt Flats, one example set a C/Street Roadster record of 162.61 mph in 1951, producing over 303 bhp at 5,250 rpm.

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1972 JEEP COMMANDO – A 304 CUBIC INCH V8 CLASSIC 4×4 – Ben Branch @Silodrome

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The Jeep Commando was directly based on the outgoing Jeepster Commando, however it featured a series of modifications designed to allow it to accommodate the AMC 232 and 258 six-cylinder engines and the 304 V8 engine.

THE JEEP COMMANDO – C104

American Motors Corporation (AMC) bought Kaiser in 1970, they immediately set about ensuring the Jeepster would be competitive in the rapidly growing early 4×4 SUV market genre. The likes of the Ford Bronco, the International Scout, the Chevrolet BlazerRange Rover, and the Toyota Land Cruiser were proving stiff competition for the Commando which many considered a little dated.

Read the article here

A KAR KRAFT SPECIAL – 1973 FORD MUSTANG TRANS AM RACE CAR – Ben Branch @Silodrome

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This 1973 Ford Mustang was built to race in the Trans Am series, with a heavy duty tubular frame developed by the Le Mans-winning Ford GT40 veterans at Kar Kraft, a highly modified Windsor 351 V8 built by Jack Roush, a close-ratio 4-speed transmission with a Hurst shifter, and a 4.11:1 locked differential.

From a historic perspective this car is quite significant, it’s one of the very last chassis Kar Kraft designed prior to Ford terminating their factory-supported racing program.

KAR KRAFT – FORD’S UNOFFICIAL SKUNKWORKS DIVISION

Although Kar Kraft was technically an independent company, they were essentially a de facto Ford racing division. When Ford’s plan to buy Ferrari fell apart at the last minute they decided to take the fight to the Maranello racing and sports car manufacturer by challenging them at the most important race in Europe – the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Read the rest of the article here

A “CRATE” ENGINE WITH A DIFFERENCE – A ROUSH-BUILT LINCOLN-ZEPHYR V12 ENGINE – Ben Branch @Silodrome

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Who’d have thought that Roush would have built a Lincoln Zephyr V12 Flathead?

Well they did indeed and made a fine job of it too!

The Lincoln-Zephyr V12 engine made its first appearance in the Lincoln-Zephyr models of 1936 with a capacity of 267 cubic inches.

Read about the engine in the Silodrome article here

The engine sold for $16800 at RM Sotheby’s as part of the Dingman collection listing here