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One of those once in a lifetime things "Hernia J"

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by four-thirteen, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. The story begins in 1991, I was just an impressionable eight year old. My father and I went out to the MSRA's "Back to the 50s" car show at the Minnesota state fair grounds, like we have every other year, before and since. Saturday, parked out on Randall and Cooper, there was a funny little white '53 Henry J, flat towed there by another '53 Henry J. The White Henry J was something special, it was an old race car powered by the drivetrain from a '63 plymouth max wedge car. An old gasser, a real piece of history. I shared my Father's enthusiasm for the car, and we stopped back several times that day in search of the owner. We never found him that day, and that was the last we saw of the car for a very long time.

    A buddy of mine, Shawn, worked for FedEx as a delivery driver. On his route, he delivered a box to a guy named Rich with some old cars in his front yard, 80s late models and other junk, but among them a beat up old pro-streeted Henry J. Shawn inquired if he might have any speed parts for sale. Rich Told him he had some vintage pontiac speed parts and Shawn should stop back later when he'd have time to dig through the garage.

    Shawn brought me down to Rich's place some time later. Rich wanted to know what kind of car stuff we did, and, not wanting to boast, we just said we did some drag racing. Rich perked up at this, and pointed over at his old pro-street Henry J, telling us that it used to run in B/Gas in and around Indiana in the 60s and 70s. He went off about how the guy he bought it from screwed it all up by building a pro-street car out of what was a neat race car. Then he went off about how in the back yard is his old A/Gas Henry J, which ran a 426 max wedge. He blew up the motor back in the 70s and never bothered to fix it. We all went digging through the cavern that is Rich's garage, and found a 389 pontiac with a 6x2 intake and a blown up 426 max wedge. In the back yard there was indeed an old race car, in fact the very car I had seen 15 years ago.

    I told Rich I wanted to buy his car, and he promptly refused. Shawn ended up buying the pontiac from him and we left. Shawn and I made several trips back to Rich's place to see if I could get him to sell the car. Somehow Rich and I ended up friends from all the negotiations over his car, and once I told him my plans for the car we struck a deal. I ended up coming out way ahead on this deal, I got a bitchin car and made a damn cool old buddy.

    I'm just going to do a few mechanical things to the car, re-engineer the front and rear suspensions and some general things. Turns out the motor might have been blown up, but the only thing that really got broke was the block, the crank, rods, pistons, heads and everything else were fine. I found a good solid industrial block to replace the original max block, and I'll put all the motor parts back on that. The tranny was built by "Hydromotive" out of chicago in the way back, and its still in great shape after 40 years, I'm not going to bother rebuilding it. The rear end is a 4.86 sure-grip 8-3/4 with big chrysler brakes. Everything about this car is pure '60s back yard, from the VW front end to the surplus seat harness. Every bit of weight that could be shaved has been; this body is flimsy as can be.

    The car only ever ran at US 30 in chicago starting in 1968, Rich told me he never went anyplace else with it. The first time out it was called "Hernia J", but the track made him change it to something less sugestive as they said. Branded "Tuff Enuff" it raced hard every weekend until the motor got blown up in 1972. Rich hauled it up to minnesota when he moved up here and it has been in his backyard ever since. I'm really lucky to own this piece of history, I love this car.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  2. Cshabang
    Joined: Mar 30, 2004
    Posts: 2,456


    COngrats man...hell of a of luck with it
  3. Bugman
    Joined: Nov 17, 2001
    Posts: 3,484


    Nice car dave. Looks like fun :)
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  5. FWilliams
    Joined: Apr 24, 2001
    Posts: 1,983


    what happened to the slingshot , and how come you werent at the hamb drags?:(
  6. slim53
    Joined: Apr 24, 2005
    Posts: 399


    Dave, I'm glad I finally got to see your car. So cool man. I gotta stop by some time to check it out in person......slim
  7. the duke
    Joined: Feb 24, 2003
    Posts: 295

    the duke

    awesome story, glad to see it in good hands!
  8. 40 & 61 Fords
    Joined: May 17, 2006
    Posts: 1,935

    40 & 61 Fords

    So do you have the new alias four-twenty-six?
    Neat car, glad to know there's still stuff being found around here.
    I keep telling my buddy I bet there's a ton of cool stuff like this hidden away in garages/yards inside the 494/694 loop!
  9. dragrcr50
    Joined: Jul 25, 2005
    Posts: 3,865


    hot damn, be very proud, that is a killer history and car, I love very 1st car was the same deal, a 426 max wedge 52 J.....:cool:
  10. GARY?
    Joined: Aug 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,626


    i pulled somethin' looking at the pics. old name suits it well.
  11. titus
    Joined: Dec 6, 2003
    Posts: 4,964


    sad thing for Dave is that i know where he lives and the car is sitting outside:) :)

    but seriosly, the car is bad ass.

  12. Brad54
    Joined: Apr 15, 2004
    Posts: 6,004

    from Atl Ga

    That is absolutely AWESOME!

    You know that engine is probably worth what you paid for the whole thing. If you got a good deal, it's worth more.

    Honestly, I think I'd sell the original Max Wedge stuff to a restorer and help him out, and with the proceeds buy a 440 block, fresh Max Wedge castings from Mopar (Same light-weight iron head design, probably some improved flow and technology), stipulate that you will TRADE for an original Cross Ram Intake if the guy has to have that one for casting numbers/date codes, and come out ahead again on the deal.
    You'd end up with a more powerful engine that's original looking to the history of the car, and a guy with a gennie Max Wedge would have his piece of history.
    And don't throw away the block just yet either. There is a Mopar guru out there named Galen Govier who has a ton of research on mopars and numbers, and has reunited more than one car with it's original engine after decades being apart. If that block is from an original Max Wedge car, his database might have the current owner of the car. Now THAT would be cool!

    Awesome car--I'm green with envy (and I rarely get that way over other people's luck and stuff!)

  13. That is about the coolest thing I have ever seen. I LOVE the "J", your one lucky sumbitch!
  14. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 6,974

    from Raytown Mo

    with the pile of wedges and hemis at daves place im preety sure hes aware of what its worth.

    our previous deal with that car is still good btw dave

  15. Both good questions Fred, but neither has a good answer. On the slingshot, some members of the club got a hair up their asses about the car being "unsafe"; It's looking like I'm going to have to back half the car before it can go out again. The tubing is supposedly .049" when it needs to be .069". Whats more likely is that we'll just screw the club and build our own. I wasn't at the drags because after buying this car and paying for another year of school and just quiting another job, I had zero dollars to go roadtripping with. It hurt that I didn't make it, I can't even look at the pictures other people took. I'll be back next year in a big way. David
  16. I had considered swapping this motor for the max motor in my '63 dodge or '62 plymouth because all these parts are much nicer than the parts I was able to find for either of those motors. The only reason I shot that idea down was because this motor belongs with this car, and I promised Rich I'd put it back together just the way he had it.

    As a side note, there is no way to tell what car the motor came out of, they didn't start stamping VIN numbers on motors until the late 60s. David

  17. Brad54
    Joined: Apr 15, 2004
    Posts: 6,004

    from Atl Ga

    Yup--I forgot that.
    That being the case, I'd do EXACTLY what you're gonna do and drop the original engine back in it.

    Damn that's one of the coolest cars and stories I've heard.

    Have I mentioned I'm totally jealous?

  18. BigBlockMopar
    Joined: Feb 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,359


    Awesome find and nice story. Congrats!
  19. Ruiner
    Joined: May 17, 2004
    Posts: 4,148


    awesome dave, just what you which is the current project, the A, the shoebox or the Henry?
  20. hotrodladycrusr
    Joined: Sep 20, 2002
    Posts: 20,736


    AWESOME story, gave me chills reading it. It REALLY needs to be at the HAMB Drags '07.:cool:
  21. wlspdshop
    Joined: Jun 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,586


    Great story and congrats!!!!
  22. rikaguilera
    Joined: Oct 23, 2003
    Posts: 271


    Love the story, love the car. I am glad to see that you are going to be true to its racing roots, and keep it cool. I am sure the old guy who sold it to you is worth an dictonary of info and stories as well. Yeah, I agree with you, you came out way ahead.
    Good luck.
  23. Ruiner
    Joined: May 17, 2004
    Posts: 4,148


    I really need a grudge match with someone local at the HAMB Drags in '07, but given the size/class of that car it'd be a no-win situation for me...especially with your driving experience versus my lack of having any...I'll just have to pick on someone I know I can beat...where's Fiddy Four? there ANY chance of seeing this thing at the track in Joplin in '07?
  24. What a cool story.

    Awesome car too. I don't think you could order them like that from Sears & Roebuck...

  25. Very cool Dave! I am glad it finally worked out.
  26. bigken
    Joined: Jul 7, 2005
    Posts: 2,789


    Good damn story and find - FINALLY. I have always had a soft spot for Henry 'J's.......... Almost bought one in the mid 70's, but dad was gonna make me restore it. I said I wanted to make a streetable gasser out if it, and he didn't like that idea. I guess the fact it was a complete/un-molested one, he wanted to see it 'un-cut'.
  27. erock805
    Joined: Jul 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,233


    that is too cool...

    remember nice tweed interior and some pink heartbeat stripe in tint on the windows....
  28. hog mtn dave
    Joined: Jul 14, 2004
    Posts: 1,287

    hog mtn dave

    Nice find and a great story to go with it. Are y'all going with "Hernia J" or "Tuff Enuff"? For what it's worth I'm gonna have to vote for Hernia J. Looking forward to progess pics and seeing y'all someplace next year.
  29. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,221

    from DFW USA

    Very cool car.

    If you're gonna keep everything original to the car, why would you ditch the VW front end? It looks killer with the wide-5 wheels.

  30. Ruiner
    Joined: May 17, 2004
    Posts: 4,148


    I think what he meant was he was going to upgrade the mounts and safety of the VW axle and rearend...

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