Herman & Judee Gantt
"I entered because I thought it would be fun to see how far I could go--and to do something different and take a vacation at the same time."
Herman and Judee Gantt did go literally farther than any of the other Ego-Rama contestants, since they drove their '53 Stude Champion Coupe all the way from Virginia.
When he paid $600 for this car and another, he decided to hot rod it, like he'd done with some of his earlier Studes. When it was finished, Herman's stealthy Stude was a wolf in sheep's clothing. For a car not especially renowned for performance, this one has been modified into a real racetrack terror. It doesn't matter whether that racetrack is a straight-shot quarter-mile or a twisty series of curves; Herman's ready for them all.
The aftermarket isn't bursting with parts to turn a Studebaker into a performance machine, so Herman had to fabricate many of his own pieces. It doesn't hurt that he builds chassis for Late-Model Stockers, and didn't let his expertise go to waste when building this car. The "slope nose" is powered by a NASCAR-style Chevy small-block and has late-model suspension pieces that to put that power to the pavement the way its supposed to. The owner-designed front end, fuel cell, master cylinder, and brakes, are a few of the performance parts that found their way onto the '53 (not to mention the floor made from race car door sheetmetal). The finishing details hide the fact that this sleeper is a lot more and just a very clean cruiser.
The Studebaker topped the list in the People's Choice category, and finished in the top half of the Budget judging, behind the two Model As. It dominated in the Braking category, thanks to those Wilwood discs. With a little more gear, Herman could've done better on the strip. Where everybody else was losing traction, he couldn't get his tires to break loose.
Herman said he entered just to see if he would get selected for the Top 20 ballot. "I never really thought I'd end up in it," he said, "but I ended up having a great time."
Acceleration: 15.01 at 94.90 mph
Braking: 132.68 feet
Cornering: 7.91 seconds at 36.2 mph
Gas Mileage: 15.8 mpg
Drivetrain: Corvette 358ci engine; angle-milled heads; Edelbrock Performer manifold; Edelbrock 600-cfm carb; TH400 automatic transmission; '79 Trans Am rear with 2.72:1 gears.
Chassis: Stock frame with AFCO rear shocks, AFCO front springs, rear leaf springs, antisway bars; Wilwood disc brakes; tubular upper A frames; '53 Studebaker lower A frames; '73 Impala spindles.
Wheels & Tires: Front and rear 17x9.5 inch Trans Am wheels with radial tires
Body & Paint: Body totally restored and painted by owner, '99 Cadillac Diamond White with blue pearl in clearcoat.
Interior: Velour-covered '87 Chrysler seats; stock dash with Stewart-Warner gauges; Grant steering wheel; Alpine stereo system; Acme A/C.
'31 Ford Coupe
"To be picked as one of six people who get to do this, out of who knows how many cars in the whole nation, is pretty prestigious if you ask me."
At first glance, Kris Elmer's '31 coupe could be mistakenly dismissed as a rat rod. A second glance reveals a lot of thought and some remarkable building tricks. Kris bought the doorless body 10 years ago. The owner didn't want to sell it, but his wife (who had planted flowers in it) insisted. After a trip to the Hot Rod Reunion, Kris decided to build a daily-driven, traditional hot rod. He has driven it all over the West, clocking 30,000 miles in 2 years. The trip to San Francisco, however, was his first long trek without other hot rodders around. "I brought every tool I could think of, and babied it along the way," he said. "Then I stopped worrying about it."
The seemingly-simple coupe is loaded with wild mods. Beyond the 8-inch chop, the body was "anti-sectioned" 2 inches to line up the cowl with the grille and lengthened with sedan doors. Deuce roadster fenderwells were used in the back. Note that there are no parts on the front of the early Hemi--no water pump, no alternator, and no belts or pulleys. All of this was masterfully hidden behind the engine. Kris was the only participant with a global positioning system, and he used his laptop to send daily reports from Ego-Rama to the -Jalopy Journal-'s HAMB message board.
Kris was surprised by how well the car cornered, but felt disappointed at the dragstrip, despite a top half of the field finish. "I expected it to do better, but I didn't want to push it. Seeing Don hit the wall right in front of me made me leery about really hammering it. I've got skinnier tires than he's got, so I just kind of walked it off the line."
Kris was encouraged to enter the event by Ego-Rama III entrant Rex Marshall, also from Utah, and by Don Palfreyman and Tony Price, other Utah Ego-Rama alums. "They told me to prepare for lots of fun. They were right!"
Acceleration: 14.21 at 98.58 mph (all e.t.s are corrected for altitude)
Braking: 226.54 feet
Cornering: 7.94 seconds at 36.2 mph
Gas Mileage: 14.9 mpg
Drivetrain: Chrysler 331ci Hemi bored 0.030-over; 10:1 Jahns pistons; Chrysler 354 heads; Weiand Drag Star log manifold; six Stromberg 97 carbs; 700-R4 transmission; modified bellhousing; '39 Ford Banjo rearend with 4.10:1 gears.
Chassis: Bobbed and notched '32 Ford frame with Model A crossmembers; Pete & Jake front shocks; rear air shocks; Chassis Engineering front end; '40 Ford "juice" brakes front and rear; 4-inch dropped axle; hairpins.
Wheels & Tires: Front '40 Ford 16x4 rims with 16x5 ribbed Firestone tires; rear '40 Ford 16x4.5 rims with 16x7.5 Firestones.
Body & Paint: Body stretched with sedan doors; 8-inch chop; body "anti-sectioned" 2 inches; '32 Ford headlights; '50 Pontiac taillights; ivory paint on the wheels and firewall.
Interior: Vinyl covered bench seat; '32 Ford dash with Stewart-Warner gauges; '46 Ford wheel; Alpine CD, MP3, WMA player with XM satellite hidden under the dash.
Willie & Pam Martin
'55 Chevy Sedan
"It's kind of an old school thing that hot rods were cars you used all the time. Through all the years that I've owned this, that's been the idea."
Forty years ago, Willie's dad, Ed Martin, bought this '55 for use as a loan car at his shop. In 1970, the car became Willie's. A run of accidents and a burned up engine from an SCRA event, prompted Willie to park the car and eventually sell it in 1983. In 1992, he relocated the car and bought it back. Rodney Bauman revitalized the Chevy, but in 1997, Willie got caught in another round of guardrail pinball. Rodney helped with another rebuild and Willie emerged with a fresh car and a new nickname, "Guardrail Willie."
This '55 is definitely put together right. As we learned, it can be an aggressive performance machine and a docile highway cruiser. The Paxton-blown ZZ4 crate is plenty healthy, but not so lumpy as to get annoying. The paint and bodywork is stunning. The rear wheelwell lips look like they grew there originally, but are in fact front fender lips from a late Studebaker Lark. The flames are the perfect finishing touch on one very hot hot rod.
Willie combined confidence in the car with a successful spring and shock combination to run the best Slalom time, just 0.01 second ahead of the Plymouth. Willie was right behind Ross in the Acceleration competition, running a 13.63/102. In addition to it's success at the Speedway, Willie earned top points in Ride & Drive.
"I'm a perfectionist," Willie admitted, "and in trying to get the car perfect, I can go too far one way or another. I Ieft the handheld computerized engine control in my truck, and didn't mess with it all week--and it worked better than I figured it would."
Winning in Slalom, Gas Mileage, and Ride & Drive, and finishing in the top half of all categories (except for dead last in Budget), essentially guaranteed Willie's overall Asphalt Ego-Rama win. This '55 is the kind of car Ego-Rama was created to promote: a great all-around hot that does it all and does it all well.
Acceleration: 13.63 at 102.41 mph
Braking: 156.50 feet
Cornering: 7.33 seconds at 39.2 mph
Gas Mileage: 19.5 mpg
Drivetrain: Owner-built 475hp Chevy ZZ4 350 with a Paxton SN2000 blower and Edelbrock Pro-Flow injection; B&M-shifted 700-R4 automatic; '57 Pontiac rearend with Posi and 3.23:1 gears.
Chassis: Homebuilt '56 chassis with modified engine, trans, and rear shock mounts; Monroe shocks; '57 Chevy wagon rear springs; Fat Man Fabrications dropped spindles.
Wheels & Tires: American Torque Thrust D rims with Bridgestone radials.
Body & Paint: "Rotten" Rodney Bauman performed the body and paint work on the '55, part of an off-frame re-do after a 75-mph date with a guardrail. Custom mods include '59 Studebaker front fender openings in the rear fenders, and a '54 Cad taillight hinge to access the fuel filler through the left taillight. Rodney sprayed the PPG "Medium Guardrail Blue" and "Spontaneous Combustion" combo of colors for the flames.
Interior: Grey leather upholstery; '71 Ford LTD front seats; single-hump dash by Rodney Bauman; Grant steering wheel; Custom Rod Gauges; Vintage Air A/C; Clarion AM/FM/cassette/CD sound system.
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