The Street Muscle Network

Just Bragging Rights: Going Low And Packing A Mighty Punch

IMG_1760When there’s a 55 mile road race 45 miles from your home in North Platte, Nebraska, that gets your blood up, what does a 71 year-old old hot rodder do? Build a car that has both shock value and the ability to do a fifty mile road course (without working too hard) at its top speed, of course!

That “bug” (pun intended) bit Dan Troyer a few years ago and he decided he wanted a low slung go-kart type vehicle and went searching for something that would/could do the road course easily. He found a well-used 1956 Volkswagen, figured he’d “cut it up a bit, slam it on the ground and throw a big V8 engine in it.”

small.

The VW is small to begin with, but after you cut one up, it gets really small.

He started with 2 x 3 rectangular tube frame and added an independent front suspension – a Heidts kit specifically made for a Model A (plus a bit of ingenuity). Around back a Ford 9-inch rearend was narrowed and set up with a 3-bar Watts type linkage. Wilwood disc brakes were added on all four corners in case his accelerator foot figured it could take the corners a little faster than his brain could.

Once he was satisfied with the frame, he tied it all together with a full roll cage and then slipped the ’56 VW body on, chopped it 8.25 inches in the front and less in the back (magically done by Phil Cullen of Pueblo, Colorado), pulled the fenders and stepped back to see how it looked.

“Cut it up a bit, slam it on the ground and throw a big V8 engine in it.” Left: The VW undergoing a bit of cutting. Right: The VW after the cutting, on its wheels and tires looking good in a coat of white sealer.

A big-inch V8 would/could make the VW a serious contender at the Arnold, Nebraska, three-day “Sand Hills Shoot-out,” but, huge problem – a big block Chevy and dual four bbl. carbs atop the engine would take up too much inside room. The “big V8” idea was beginning to be the major setback! One afternoon, he drove by the local GM dealer- on the showroom floor sat a shiny new GM crate LS3 on a stand. “Perfect,” Dan said to the parts guy. “That’s got a great low profile to it. No carbs to take up room.” Big engine, small package!

Shortly after, he ordered a Tremec six-speed to bolt to the back of it and had a drive-shaft built. That new crate engine would certainly add the shock value Dan wanted, especially if the hood were closed! At a very competitive 430 horses, Dan figured a different GM cam would add another 50 horses so he ordered the cam while he was at the dealer. Four hundred eighty horses should motivate the little VW well enough to give him a decent time around the 55 mile paved county road course.

Whoa! That 'little ' LS engine looks tight in the confines of a VW baggage compartment, but it fits under the hood.

With the engine/transmission bolted in the chassis and the VW hood closed and latched, it was obvious the radiator had to move to the rear of the car. Dan ordered up an aluminum cross-flow, added an electric fan and put an electric boost pump on the return side. Needing air to it, he modified the VW deck lid by adding a scoop to force the air coming over the roof of the car through the radiator. Once the body was mounted, fiberglass race car seats, and 5-point harnesses were mounted, and the interior started to come together. Dan built a new dash and added Speed Hut (GPS) gauges to it and a racing type steering wheel.

Dan didn’t want it to look like a race car, so he had it fully upholstered, including carpeting. He also wanted it street legal so he could drive it on the street, for that “shock value” – 5-½ inch motorcycle headlights were mounted alongside the 17 inch front and rear Keystone wheels and motorcycle LED’s were used as taillights. The car is fully licensed and Dan has about 1,000 street and highway miles on it right now.

Fiberglass buckets fit inside nicely. Dash features Speed Hut GPS driven gauges. The shifter for the Tremec six-speed sits close to the seat so no fumbling for it. Full roll cage was mandatory. Car drinks 'bug juice" - doesn't run very well on Av gas.

When the car was semi-finished, Dan decided to paint it…he called on Royce Schauer of North Platte to paint it and Chopper Sanchez got to add his touch and air-brush the graphics. The lime green and silver paint colors, and the graphics, add to the car’s shock value.

Dan has driven the car around at events like Goodguys‘ Des Moines event; KKOA’s Salina event; Pueblo, Colorado’s NSRA event and on North Platte’s city streets. Dan noted “ I’ve owned and built hot rods most of my life, but this one seems to get the most attention of any of my cars.” No doubt, especially when hearing the exhaust note of a V8 and no sign of carbs poking through the hood.

Wild paint adds ‘shock value’, just exactly what owner Dan Troyer wanted.

With the car finished, Dan took it to the The Sandhills Open Road Challenge (SORC) where he entered the 150 mph class of the “Standing Start to ½ Mile” portion of the event. He managed to get the VW to 145.9 mph.

The event has many facets to it, the largest event of the SORC is a 55-mile rally style open road race through the scenic Nebraska Sandhills. Arguably the most demanding event of its kind in America, the SORC offers a daunting series of “S” curves, straights, and 90-degree turns to challenge the most talented of drivers. With more than 50 hazards and straights as long as three miles, the course offers a true challenge to drivers in every speed class.

Dan and his VW prepare for the start of the “Standing Start to ½ Mile” shoot out.

The SORC is comprised of nine separate speed classes beginning with the 80 MPH to unlimited. Individual driver’s experience and car safety equipment determines what class drivers are eligible for. The event will once again be held on August 9-12 of 2017. Interesting enough, the “One Mile Shoot-out” portion of the event has a speed record for the mile at 224.77 MPH, set in 2009. For more information on upcoming race, and the rules – of course there are rules – visit http://www.sorcrace.com. For those interested in road courses, you might not want to miss this one.

Left: Close to completion, the little VW looks good in its new paint scheme. Right: Like a demon spreading its wings, the VW is ready for the race.

Of the 2016 race, Dan again was planning on running his VW but his granddaughter was in town for the event and he decided he didn’t need to go to the driver’s meeting the morning before the race and figured he wouldn’t be missed. That afternoon the rules committee called and told him not to bring his car down. “You didn’t attend the driver’s meeting and because of that, we aren’t going to let you do the road race.” Disappointed, Dan was asked if he was in it to win the money? “No.” Dan said, “Just bragging rights.”

About the author

Roger Jetter

Roger’s interests in cars started at 14 with a ’40 Ford pick-up until he bought his first ’57 Chevy at age 16. That car is featured in the first two books he’s written about the 1960’s and growing up in the Midwest. He’s authored several more books as well and has built several cars over the years that have received major coverage in magazines and won plenty of awards. His current build is a 1948 Cadillac Sedanet, although his current 'driver' is a '55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille.
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