I was thinking the other day about a friend of mine that passed away a few years ago. He was the owner of the original South Side Machine Company (“Home of the Lift Bars”) that was based in Creston Ohio. He made traction bars and frame connectors for a variety of makes and models of cars. He was the genius guy that could fabricate, and make anything. After serving in Viet Nam he came back to the states to become a big time hot rodder during the muscle car era.
Larry loved racing Buicks. I could never figure that choice out? But to each his own, but then I found out that the torque those things had would really get them rolling out of the hole! Now those big 430,s and 455’s really ran great, for street racing he would beat everyone!
Larry was also one of the original, what we call rat rod guys today. He would show up with some rotted out, beat up piece of crap, and put those pretty Fords, Mopars, and Chevys to shame if they had a little cash in their pockets.
In the city of Wooster Ohio in the late 70’s and through the 80’s we would cruise around looking for girls and ready to race anyone. Larry would show up and park with us, and everyone would laugh at his 75 Buick Skylark (looks like a Nova body) It was silver and rust, with a half torn off vinyl roof. The interior was so nasty that it looked like a pack of dogs lived in that thing. So imagine him showing up, he was 15 years older than all of us and weighed 430 pounds, no joke.
So he had this 1970 455 engine in this Nova look alike with a bullet proof Turbo 400 transmission and a ford 9 inch Mustang rear axle in it with 389 gears. Now remember all the rust and scale hanging off this thing. He had some rusty crappy looking black steel wheels on it all the way around. It sat slightly lower in the rear and it would always be leaning slightly to the left when he was sitting in it. He was running Corvair Turbo mufflers on it to the rear axle off a set off big tube headers. To this day, I still do not know what all he had done to the engine in that thing, but I do recall he had the first set of aftermarket aluminum heads to fit a Buick 455. Back then, a very small startup company called Trick Flow Industries made them for him, you might have heard of them nowadays!
Ok anyhow with his Southside Machine traction bars, and frame connectors and with a set of 9 inch slicks under this thing it would literally stand on end when he took off. It would run mid 11’s in the quarter mile, and that was pretty good for a street car back then.
He sent numerous people home with the girl friends in tow humiliated with their Camaros, SS Chevelles, Nova’s, Cobra Jet Mustangs, Fairlane’s, Road Runners, and many others. The problem was that after a few months nobody would race him. He would usually sucker them in for $50.00 to $100.00 per race. They thought it was an easy win! He really did make a lot of new friends wanting him to make traction bars for their cars though.
Yep it was a lot of fun back then and a whole lot cheaper to build something. I would love to make a movie of that era, are you listening Ron Howard? It would be a heck of a good story with many twists and turns.
Till next month keep on cruising and look out for the rusty Buicks, you might be surprised! Bear out!