This started out a few months ago as a post on “What Are You Working On?”. Since then John Craft has finished his project. If you don’t know John he has been in the Ford Talladega camp for many years and even did a fabulous recreation of the Wood Brothers’ Cale Yarborugh race car many years ago. Although his most recent project is not one of the Aero Cars it is part of the heritage that eventually brought NASCAR to the Aero Wars. The following multi-part article was provided by John and we thank him enthusiastically not only for the write up but also for the restoration of this piece of Ford and Holman-Moody race history.
Holman Moody 1964 Galaxie
Part 4: Building a Race Car
The process of converting a standard road car, as supplied by Ford, to completed Holman-Moody race car was intensive and laborious, but essentially ran like a mini-production line, with each car receiving more or less the same treatment. In 1964, the same car was used on all tracks; there weren’t specific cars built for super speedways, short tracks, or road courses. Each standard production 1964 Galaxie was blown apart, with the body lifted from the chassis, and the body then torn down. The chassis was strengthened by re-welding all the factory welds. The hind frame-rails of the chassis were ‘pinched’ inwards, allowing space for the maximum 8.5 inch wide wheels and increasingly chunky racing rubber. Suspension pick-up points were strengthened, as were the suspension parts themselves, including massive upper and lower control arms, while custom made spring perches with jack screw adjusters were fitted. Huge 11” x 3” and 11” x 2” drum brakes were installed, with multiple ventilation holes drilled throughout both the backing plates as well as the drum faces themselves.
1964 was the last year Galaxie road cars were built with rear leaf springs, and the Holman-Moody race cars featured lowering blocks to bring the ride height down, height-adjustable shackles, and a full-floating 9” diff with braced housing running from end to end. A small pulley, thought to be a modified Fordson tractor unit, was mounted just forward of the rear axle and aided diff oil temperatures from a trunk mounted cooler, that took in gulps of cool air from a ventilated box mounted on the body underside, just aft of the diff.
The body shells were also strengthened, with the rear wheel wells being mini-tubbed, again to make space for the wide wheels and tires. On the skin, the rear wheel fenders received subtle stretching to provide further tire clearance, while the inner lip was removed all-round. A driver actuated trap door was built into the passenger foot well in which the driver could check on right-front tire wear, which took the most punishment on oval tracks. This was a crude but effective way to monitor what was still a major criminating factor in stock car wrecks; tire blow-outs. A fabricated firewall cowl induction system provided cool air from the base of the windshield to the engine bay. The entire floor was removed, and replaced with flat sheet metal, while the factory transmission tunnel was also removed and replaced with a hand-fabricated item that was taller than standard, and gained extra bracing, allowing the car to be lowered further than factory clearances would dictate. Doors were welded shut to aid strength and rigidity, and to stop them popping open. Curiously, given the efforts that went into making the cars as slippery as they could be, drip rails remained intact.
A rigid (for the time) roll cage was fabricated from mild steel tubing, providing strength and rigidity. Additional protective tubing was added on the driver’s side between the A and B-pillars, although by today’s standards still left him alarmingly exposed, given the speeds these cars could reach. A central bar ran forward of the B-pillar cage section, joining a plate mounted on the passenger foot well. Additional bars ran rearward into the trunk.
Forward propulsion was provided by a 427 cu.in FE big block V8, fitted with high-riser cylinder heads. These race-only heads featured massive 1.34 x 2.72 inch rectangular intake ports, and required a dedicated high-riser intake manifold. Grand National rules stipulated the use of a single 4-barrel carburettor. Holman-Moody used a Holley. A large Holman-Moody made shroud encompassed the big Holley while also wrapping around the fabricated firewall inlet cowl, providing a ram-air effect of cold air from the windshield base direct to the carburettor. In the bottom end was a cast-iron crank, with heavily baffled wet-sump. In 1964, these motors could be revved to 7,000rpm and still live, impressive for a motor this size, and produced around 500 reliable horsepower. They were backed by a Borg-Warner T-10 4-speed gearbox, while exhaust gases exited out through four-into-one 3 inch pipes that passed through tunnels cut into the frame rails on either side, before dumping out just behind each door. A C-section was cut into the lower bodywork to allow the exhaust to sit up inside the frame-work, rather than below it. This not only provided better ground clearance for the heavily lowered cars, it likely would have cleaned up air-flow beneath them too.
Technically, the high-riser motor shouldn’t have been used by Ford teams, as it wasn’t actually available on road cars at the time. But then again, neither was the Hemi motor powering the rival Chrysler team cars.