It seems like ages since I had to sit down and pound one of these out. Life's other moments filled the void nicely over the last 6 months. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope the ‘Lords of IT’ have this thing firing on all cylinders!
When last we held court, the decision had been made to thin the herd a bit. I sold the Super Hugger/Norwood Chevrolet Camaro. It is now in capable hands and will more than likely see the light of day, sooner than it would have here. I honestly thought there was a buyer for the Jungle Camaro and White Whale, but, suffice it to say I NEVER count on anything until the presidential flash cards are cooling in my pocket.
I'm very picky and was starting to feel a little uneasy about letting it go. I had to be sure it was going to be done properly, even though it was going to belong to someone else. Not that I questioned my friend's abilities. Let's just say I am particular and part of the purchase involved my help and the info I’ve gathered over the last 8 years. I even had a dream he finished it and when he lifted the body to show me, there was a 392 where there should have been a 426. I came in the shop that morning and there was an email ending the deal. Prophecy, fate, dumb luck. . . you be the judge.
Oh well, that’s how it goes. It doesn't cost me anything to have it sitting here.
So much for my plan to trim the fleet, I have the M/T Maverick and, it being a Buttera masterpiece, I won't part with it. I offered the ‘Outa Site Too’ '69 Camaro stuff for sale, no bites yet.
But (always one of those), here's where it becomes, as an ex-spouse used to say, "an Ed Buck thing."
A funny thing happened on the way to pare down this mess. I bought a 426 Hemi block with a date code and VIN for a '70 Hemi Cuda a couple years ago. An acquaintance had learned about this and offered to do some trading for a hemi short block out of a dragster he had. Unfortunately, after some time, what he had wasn't going to work for me and we called off the trade. Back in March, he comes in and asked me if I still had the block, I told him I did and pointed to the warehouse part of the shop. He disappeared behind the vinyl drape that separated the area, came back out a couple minutes later and asked if I was interested in a trade. I thought, "I told him I couldn't use that Hemi", but, I asked what he was wanting to trade. "That front engine SPE dragster I have," he said. "How long?" I asked. "185" " Sure" I said, without any hesitation, like a junkie offered a fix.
He had told me about this one before, but I never thought he would sell, I didn't pursue it. He said he would text some photos, it was at a chassis shop. When I asked if it had any history, he said it came from Texas, he also said he thought Dale Armstrong was involved with it. Wheels started turning and as soon as he left, I started looking around. I didn't think Armstrong ever drove a Top Fueler. I knew Dale Emery did in '70, for a guy in Texas.
There was the first dead end, the car Emery drove was a Logghe. I threw it out to the guys on Std 1320, still nothing. A couple days later the guy comes back. Our deal was for the block and some cash. Fair enough for me, it was a generous trade on his part. I'd been wanting an FED and this one kind of found me. I handed him a wad of bills and he says, "Hippo, that was who it was, it was his." Okay, but I knew enough of him to know he wasn't from Texas, he was based out of California.
Here's how it showed up... backward canards and that hideous cage
The journey begins.
With this knowledge in hand, I posted my find in a couple places. I figured the guys on 1320 would know. Facebook always turns up some ‘nuggets’ as well.
Man, was I inundated. It was the Hippo and Poindexter dragster, driven by John Mitchell, the same John Mitchell who later had the Montana Express, which Dave Grubnic drove. My intent was to just do my interpretation of a 60's FED 392, some hippie paint job, something to cackle.
Welllllll, that idea lasted about 15 minutes. Hippo's son contacted me, friends of Hippo, guys that worked with him, others who knew him.
Tom Jobe iced it for me when his comment was, "Hippo was a racer's racer, and if you ever find anyone who says they didn't like Hippo, do not reply to them, remove that person from your address book immediately as they will be a certified jerk of some sort."
Well, I can't argue with that.
Hippo himself. Don Prieto photo
So, guess who has another resto going....
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