Buzzards’ Racing Builds Old-style Hemi To Go 200+ MPH

Video Update: Buzzards Racing just posted a new video of the Hemi-powered ’34 Ford on the chassis dyno. The car sounds incredible as the dyno operator rows through the gears, but then’s there’s some smoke. You’ll have to check out the action in the video below to see the carnage. But, damn, this engine sounds powerful!!

With a goal of going over 200 mph at Bonneville and still maintaining a nostalgic look, Richard Clelland has assembled a sharp-looking classic Hemi for his popular ’34 Ford. Campaigning under the Buzzards’ Racing banner, this flat-black 5-window coupe had a set a class record in 2010 of just over 140 mph with a hopped-up Ford Flathead.

“The plan was to go to a bigger engine,” Clelland tells EngineLabs. “I started building the Hemi, then got slowed down. We ran the car one year with big-block Chevy I borrowed from my cousin. Then we finished the Hemi last year.”

For that first build, Clelland tried a non-oiling rocker arm, but that choice “hammered the pushrods to death.” So, the latest version of the 360ci has a set of Missile rockers and all is well under the factory Firepower-badged valve covers.

In order to run in C/Classic Blown Fuel Altered class, Clelland looked for a 354ci Hemi, which was produced in ’56 and ’57 for select Chrysler and Dodge products. He found a nearly complete engine from Oregon at a Northern California swap meet. Upon disassembly, Clelland discovered a sound block but a bad crankshaft. He then ordered a new 3.625-inch stroke crank from Velasco in Los Angeles and bored the block .030 over. For much of the machine work, Clelland called on Dexter Bradford, a well-known drag-racing fuel-altered owner who campaigned a popular ’37 Fiat in the ‘60s with son Randy driving.

“He’s in his 80s but real knowledgable about Hemis,” praises Clelland. “He give me a big hand in getting all the machine work done.”

Spinning with Velasco crank are Ross 9:1 pistons and custom billet-steel rods from R&R Racing Products.

“I was planning on using iron heads but decided to go with aluminum from Hot Heads,” says Clelland, noting that he opened up the ports just a little and installed different valves and springs. Ruben Racing Cams ground a fresh core to Clelland’s specs.

Progress shots of the Buzzards' Racing Hemi build.

“At the time, they were the only place I could find that offered a cam core for this engine,” says Clelland.

The long block is finished up a later-model Mopar oil pump and Moroso pan that Clelland expanded to 10 quarts. On top is a vintage Cragar intake manifold, Littlefield 8-71 blower and Hilborn 4-port injector with its iconic scoop. A Hilborn 175 series pump supplies the methanol to the injectors while MSD 8-Plus handles the spark.

Key components include Missile rocker arms and a Littlefield blower.

“I’m a nostalgia guy and like the look of the Hilborn 4-port,” adds Clelland.

The chassis dyno run shown above was just to feel out the new engine and check for any potential problems.

“We did find a couple of issues,” says Clelland, noting that the engine recorded 500 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque at only 40 percent throttle and 4,300 rpm. “We want to be at 800 horsepower next time.”

About the author

Mike Magda

Mike Magda is a veteran automotive writer with credits in publications such as Racecar Engineering, Hot Rod, Engine Technology International, Motor Trend, Automobile, Automotive Testing Technology and Professional Motorsport World.
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