Last Minute Thrash

Hiding in a Memphis suburb is the nearly finished Stephens & Venables top fuel dragster restoration which we first saw at the 2004 Memphis Rodders Reunion. Four years ago the project was just getting started, and it's caretakers Rip & Natalie Wiley were collecting parts and establishing a plan of attack to pursue the restoration of the mostly complete but well worn fueler.

Now that the 2008 National Hot Rod Reunion looms as a targeted goal for completion, the wick is being turned up to complete the paint, lettering, and install various minor detailing pieces so that the car can make it's debut in Bowling Green. Although the car is essentially mechanically complete, the application of the final paint scheme that this car wore in 1972 will be the crowning touch to the restoration. As you can probably tell from the photos I made today, the tape has been laid out, and the painter is on his way, so it should be fully clothed by mid June if all goes as planned.

The car features a Preston Davis built 392 Chrysler Hemi, with a
Mike Kuhl supercharger. Preston has tuned the hemi to race ready specification, and has served as an advisor throughout the project. Eddie Wilbanks is responsible for finishing off some slick new body panels to complement the original "lizard nose" among many other fabrication essentials. Don's Auto Upholstery in Memphis took a break from installing after market accessories on new cars and redid the original style upholstery and roll bar padding to perfection. Meanwhile, Rick's Powder Coating handled the black finish on the 205 inch chassis in their extra large oven.

Also spotted while roaming around the Wiley's shop today was this "extra" 392 complete with a good dose of proper vintage speed equipment. Rip says "you can never have too many Hemis," but I'm thinking he's got the vintage drag racing jones bad enough to have all the good stuff in triplicate... eventually.

So mark your calendar once again for Father's Day weekend in Bowling Green KY. You'll want to make this event a "must do" deal for your summer if at all possible. You'll see plenty of first rate vintage machinery on hand, along with Memphis Rodders Reunion regulars like Ray Godman, Preston Davis, Larry Reyes, and now the "Cacklefest" debut of the Stephens & Venables AA/FD.

I'll try to make an update on the Wiley's restoration after the paint has dried and they return from Bowling Green.