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See What It Takes to Go 200 MPH on the Salt in a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette...in 1964!

From the Archives: Looking Inside a 200-MPH Chevy

Drew Hardin Apr 1, 2016
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“You don’t have to have a huge supercharger, a can of nitro and mucho cubic inches to go fast,” advised Car Craft magazine in its Nov. ’64 story about this Bonneville-running ’62 Vette. “Just look what Jack Lufkin accomplishes with a medium-sized Chevy.”

Lufkin had been on the high-performance radar for a while when this story was written by LeRoi “Tex” Smith. Lufkin worked with famed car builder and racer Ak Miller, and in the late ’50s had set B/Sports speed records on Southern California’s dry lakes and at the Daytona Speed Weeks in a ’56 Vette. In 1963 he upped his game by driving this then-year-old Corvette to 193 mph at Bonneville; for ’64 he set his sights on reaching 200 mph on the salt.

To Smith’s point, Lufkin’s goal was to reach two bills using a fairly modest small-block. His starting point was a new 327-inch ’64 Vette engine, which was disassembled and then carefully machined so that all the bores—main bearings, cam and cylinders—were in alignment and to spec. The tops of the cylinder bores were also relieved to clear the big fuelie valves to come.

2 1962 Chevrolet Corvete Engine Bay 2/2

C-T Automotive did the machining and also prepped the motor with a stroker crankshaft, bringing the engine to 374.97 inches, a whisker shy of the C/Sports Racing class’ 375-inch maximum. To that crank were added magnafluxed stock 327 rods and Forgedtrue 11:1 solid-skirt pistons. Lufkin paid particular attention to the assembly’s wristpins, pin locks, piston-to-wall clearance, and piston rings, the latter a combo of Grant and Forgedtrue rings.

The cam Lufkin chose was a “special experimental grind” from Iskenderian, while he used fuelie heads for their big ports and lightweight valves. Jocko’s Porting Service ported the heads (“part of the secret of stock Vette go,” said Smith) and flow-tested them, cleaned up the combustion chambers, and lapped in the valves. The valvetrain was set up with dual springs and Isky studs mounting forged rockers, and then all clearances were meticulously checked, with Lufkin following Isky’s recommendation for piston-to-valve clearance. “Every valve should be checked this way,” said Smith, “since 15 minutes spent here can mean the difference between go and whoa, fun and loss.”

Induction for the motor was via Hilborn port injectors, spraying nothing more exotic than Mobil premium pump gas. The fire was lit by a Mallory Mini-Mag sending juice to Autolite standard-electrode AT-1 plugs, gapped at 0.018.

Did Lufkin reach his goal? A caption in the Car Craft story mentioned, almost as an afterthought, that “just after this article was prepared, he cranked on a new record at Bonneville at 204 mph.” The Nov. ’64 issue of Hot Rod magazine confirmed that Lufkin set a C/SR record of 204.248 mph at what it called a “rough, windy and wet” Bonneville Speed Trials.

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