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Hot Rods flatheads in the 12s???

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by bangngears, Mar 27, 2020.

  1. bangngears
    Joined: Aug 30, 2007
    Posts: 973

    from ofallon mo

    I recently read an article in one of the Hop up pages and in the article was a claim of a 12.35 pass by a 32 3 window back in the 40s. Now come on, seriously. Now a days with all the technology and being able to build a high dollar flattie with state of the art transmission behind it, its feasible. With 1940 era speed goodies which would probably be aluminum heads, 3 carbs,Isky cam and a 39 box or Cad Lasalle does anyone really believe a low 12. My brother had a 57 chevy with a 425 hp 427 4 speed with cheater slicks in the mid 60s which back then was pretty nasty and his best was a 12.76. So how in the world can a flattie with a 3 speed beat that. I would have to see it to believe it. Comment anyone?
  2. cheepsk8
    Joined: Sep 5, 2011
    Posts: 581

    from west ky

    2400 lb car? Doesn't take as much HP to push half the weight of a big block tri 5 down a track.
  3. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 10,020

    Member Emeritus

    John Bradley was running in the 9s with his digger in the fiftys. I don't know of any drags in the 40s
  4. Bearing Burner
    Joined: Mar 2, 2009
    Posts: 949

    Bearing Burner
    from W. MA

    I ran in the low 12's running out of motor at the 1000 ft mark in the 60's. 296" 3 carbs,heads, mag,and 425 cam. 1100# Chassis Research 120" dragster.

    Joined: Jun 6, 2007
    Posts: 3,903


    A general rule of thumb is "to go a 12-flat you need a power-to-weight ratio of 10:1". In one of the Don Montgomery books on early racing (forgot which) he addresses this question and proceeds to explain how it would be possible. I believe him.
  6. quickchangeV8
    Joined: Dec 7, 2010
    Posts: 442


    Rick Schnell's flathead dragster "Slider" runs in the 7's. Best time so far is 7.69 seconds in the quarter mile.
  7. tiredford
    Joined: Apr 6, 2009
    Posts: 547

    from Mo.

    My three year old GTO, with a 4 speed and 3.55 gears would run with most anything on the street. Then I took it to the drag strip, and could barely get into the 13's. I thought for sure it would turn 12 flat...geeeez
    stillrunners likes this.
  8. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,915


    Remember, the O/P posited a 32 3-window; all this reference to dragsters is moot.

    Regardless, I believe it could have happened. Most of the real radical flathead cams have been around for a long time. A 304 inch engine with one of these, radical porting, a magneto and 4 48's with a lot of compression could probably do it. There was a guy who used to post on "The Ford Barn" a few years back who had a steel Deuce 3-window that was in the 12's consistently (I think he touched the 11's once or twice). Granted, he was running fuel injection, and had done a LOT of work on porting, but he was only running 268 ci. The extra cubic inches, proper setup and conditions make it seem not only possible, but likely to me.
    Desoto291Hemi likes this.
  9. Pete1
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,048

    from Wa.

    It was all street drags in the 40's. No clocks. Been there done that.
    The 50's was different. Lots of 32's in the 12's and few in the 11's. 120+ mph.
    stillrunners likes this.
  10. Terry Buffum
    Joined: Mar 20, 2008
    Posts: 293

    Terry Buffum
    from Oregon

    In the 1940, they would have been talking about a time through 1/4 mile timing traps at the lakes. Speed for a 12.35 second pass is 72.87 mph if my math is correct.
    Blue One and rod1 like this.
  11. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 3,516

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    We were talking about my stock 8BA one day at work when I was asked what my coupe would do on the 1/4 mile. I told the guy jokingly, that I might do a 9 or 10 sec. He went berserk! So I let him rant and rave about how my 8BA might only do a 25 sec for about 10 minutes as he was trying to look up flathead motors on his cell phone to prove a point.
    I really got to him when I said, "oh, shit! I made a mistake. I can do a 5 or 6"...Everyone else laughed and he kept trying to prove that I was wrong.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2020
    Tim and stillrunners like this.
  12. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 7,573


    They did use a blower back then I assume?
  13. Pete1
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,048

    from Wa.

    A few but mostly av-gas or nitro naturally aspirated.
  14. Gofannon
    Joined: Feb 8, 2007
    Posts: 722


    Those old mechanical 40's clocks were slower, not like the zippy digital ones we have now days.:rolleyes:
    Baumi, cactus1, sawbuck and 2 others like this.
  15. Pete1
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,048

    from Wa.

    stillrunners, Baumi and Budget36 like this.
  16. studebakerjoe
    Joined: Jul 7, 2015
    Posts: 814


    It wasn't a 32 Ford but Jazzy Jim Nelson had a Fiat Topolino on I believe it was a 34 frame that was flathead powered and ran 9 second passes in the early 50s.
  17. Traction would be a huge factor, how were those old A bodies in planting the rear tires? Any time slips out there? Thinking a mostly stock suspension 32 with V8 in front would have a tough time with weight transfer....maybe a fat tired T bucket would do better in this category.
  18. The first organized drags were held in Goleta in 1949, I doubt there were any timed 1/4 mile drags before that.
    Not even sure those drags were timed, except perhaps by a stopwatch.

  19. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,202


    The older we get the faster our cars were back when.
    I did find out that before he went to his first hemi in digger Don Garlits was running 12.5 and around 108 mph with a flathead powered dragster. That was in the early 50's and a lot of technology for flatheads ago though. Some of these flathead rails now have systems that weren't invented until after 2000
    stillrunners likes this.
  20. XXL__
    Joined: Dec 28, 2009
    Posts: 2,051


    Power to weight. That's it.


    2000# car needs about 180hp to go 12.99 ("in the 12's")
    olscrounger and UNCLECHET like this.
  21. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 19,237


    Damn. I'm gonna need a better roll cage.
  22. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,915


    Actually, for a steel '32 with driver and gas, it would take closer to 250 HP. I still believe it is doable, though.

    Also, after thinking about it, the guys that are saying this sort of thing didn't happen in the forties are correct. Lets talk the '53-'55 time period.
    Desoto291Hemi likes this.
  23. Desmodromic
    Joined: Sep 25, 2010
    Posts: 571


    That was a progressive drag strip, had already shortened length to 1000 feet.
    Hollywood-East, Baumi and tubman like this.
  24. Stan Back
    Joined: Mar 9, 2007
    Posts: 1,248

    Stan Back
    from California

    Here's an early picture of an early drag strip – Colton in late 1954. As you can see, the SCTA provided "timing" for the first few meets. The timing was only for MPH as you can see no ET light on the starting line. And that wasn't so accurate when two cars ran. Winners were declared by a couple of guys at the finish line who opened one door or the other to declare the winner. I understand this was not always fair and favorites figured into the equation.
    Colton Drags, Late 1954 .jpg
    lurker mick likes this.
  25. deucemac
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,160


    Don't forget Willie's pie wagon!
    olscrounger likes this.
  26. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,410


    agree with Deucemac--Willys Pie Wagon was fast!!
  27. Pete1
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,048

    from Wa.

    I agree with that. Sometime in 49.
    We had drags at Arlington in 49. Stopwatch timing. We got rubber hose gas station bell triggers a year or so later.
    I had the first dragster in the northwest in 52. 136mph. No ET clocks.
    stillrunners and prpmmp like this.
  28. Model A Gomez
    Joined: Aug 26, 2006
    Posts: 1,506

    Model A Gomez

    There was a fuel injected flathead F/FD that occasionally ran at MoKan in the early 60's that ran in the 11's, he had to spot my brothers X/FD 60 feet and he was running in the mid 10's at the time.
  29. Stan Back
    Joined: Mar 9, 2007
    Posts: 1,248

    Stan Back
    from California

  30. prpmmp
    Joined: Dec 12, 2011
    Posts: 1,080


    Man I would love to hear all your stories and pictures from your youth!! I know your very busy but you are what the HAMB is all about and your are living History!! Awesome stuff!! Pete (me)

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