With over 1000 ponies to tame, this is not a street car for the weak¦
It is a familiar scene, one which many of you endure day in and day out. It’s that gruelling wait for a gap big enough for you to pull out and join Auckland’s infamous congested traffic queues.
Today of all days was particularly bad given the much-publicised bus strike, and it looked as if some of those driving should have been wearing rubber gloves, judging by their intimate following distance. You would be wrong thinking I was getting pissed off with it all. In fact I had been looking forward to this ride for days, because this is where my similarity to those commuters ends, and this story takes a different turn.
Not a minute had passed since we’d started sitting there in this rumbling 1973 Plymouth Barracuda, when nearby office buildings and factories started to empty out onto the street to take in the ominous sight and sound from one of New Zealand’s quicker and genuinely street legal American muscle cars.
Looking around the fully refurbished black interior, it was hard to comprehend that this is a drag car. Owner Wayne Grimmer, of Western Auto Electrical, pointed out the 12-point roll cage and explained that for racing he inserts a horizontal bar between the front and rear seats to accommodate his racing harness. However, for today’s ride we were using the standard safety belts also conveniently fitted, which begs the question, what is this? A street machine or a drag car?
You have to appreciate the close attention to detail applied during the build. The entire car was professionally rewired by Wayne, who tucked all the little distractions away including de-looming the engine bay to give it a super-clean look. It’s no surprise, then, why this car was voted Best Engine in the recent 2005 Easter American Muscle Car Club show.
Meanwhile, to monitor the vital components there’s an impressive array of white VDO gauges in the dash, illuminated by an eerie red glow. My eyes were drawn out across the matte-black fibreglass hood to the six-pack scoop hinting that this car had just as much go as show — and those curious onlookers across the road knew it.
Scream like a man
All I could do while waiting was to keep telling myself, “mate, you’re strapped in, you’re safe and your balls have dropped, so when Wayne redefines the phrase ‘life in the fast lane’ in this 1000horsepower-plus classic there’s no shame in screaming if you scream like a man.”
Surprisingly, a courteous driver created a gap for us and Wayne kicked the Ray Barton Racing Engines (RBRE) 604 Hemi to life. The Barracuda hit the 4500rpm stall converter and launched us forward, but I didn’t have to worry. Thankfully, sensory overload saved me from any embarrassment. I was speechless. Not one receptor in my body could fully comprehend what the hell just happened, but the smile on my face and the sudden rush told me I wanted more.
So many things happened in that brief moment and no, I am not talking about the effects of sudden acceleration on certain bodily functions. It is the pure magic of hundreds of moving parts working together to dish out some good old American whoop-ass!