Car Collector Corner: Flathead V8 Cylinder heads and Danica Patrick
Flathead V8 heads
Q: Greg, what changes have to be made to put overhead valves on a flathead engine? Thanks, Dennis "Mike" Scott, Box 399, Manson, North Carolina.
A: Dennis, the Flathead Fords have really caught on again with hot rodders as the nostalgia market continues to boom. As for those heads, the person behind much of the Chevy Corvette's success, namely Zora Arkus-Duntov along with his brother Yura, built and sold a hemi style overhead valve Ardun Head for the Flathead V8. They were purchased mostly by Bonneville land speed racers way back in the 1950s.
The good news today is that Don Ferguson Jr., who along with his dad raced an Ardun head equipped Flathead V8 at Bonneville, resurrected the Ardun Head by purchasing all of the tooling from a noted author, Don Orosco, who built 30 sets of the former Ardun heads to run in England. The Ferguson contact is www.ardun.com or write to: Don Ferguson, Ardun Enterprises, Box 205, Wilmington, CA 90744. Don's business number is (323) 775-6803.
Just to let you know, this much improved Ferguson-built Ardun cylinder head conversion set isn't cheap, as $13,950 is what will be needed to bolt a set on your flathead. There are other companies out there, too, but the Ferguson-Ardun is the cream of the crop and merits this mention.
Notably, a very rare "Stephens" conversion flathead overhead valve head is owned by "Speedy" Bill Smith out in Lincoln, Neb. His "Speedway Motors" has the largest collection of antique race engines in the world (also has a huge Pedal car collection) and you can check his "Stephens" flathead conversion in action on YouTube! It's one of only four known to exist. Speedway Motors can also help you with any and all Flathead V8 parts if you decide the conversion may be too expensive. Check out www.speedwaymotors.com or call them at 1-800-979-0122 for assistance.
Good luck with your Flathead and let me know what happens.
Can Danica drive?
Q: Greg, I know you are involved in racing and although this isn't a question about old-time racing, what is your opinion of Danica Patrick in NASCAR racing? Everyone puts her down and says she'll never make it. What's your opinion? Lana K., New York.
A: Lana, I personally feel anyone who can go to Martinsville and finish 12th on the lead lap when the checkered flag drops indeed has the ability to be in NASCAR racing-girl or guy! Although I still feel it will be a while before she takes a checkered flag, she one day will win a race at perhaps one of the bigger tracks like Daytona and Talladega. (It may happen sooner than later, as she'll have her pole winning Chevy from Daytona ready to go at Talladega in a few weeks.) I don't however, see her winning on a road course in the near future.
Still, Patrick's learning curve is big, but I feel she's already been accepted by the "good old boys" for both her driving abilities and her ability to attract sponsor dollars (just ask Tony Stewart). This marketing aspect is important to all in Sprint Cup racing, especially when team owners have to pay all the team members who are on the payroll.
In ending, I believe Patrick's performance at Martinsville was even better than her performance at Daytona, because running well at Martinsville demands a good driver, and a bit of luck too.
Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto writer who welcomes reader questions at 116 main St., Towanda, PA 18848 or at email@example.com.