We're in an era of street-legal Pro Mods with the rise of Drag Week, but the idea of street-legal dragsters is hardly a new one. This 1964 Chevrolet Malibu is a hilariously unique example of the obsession with street-legal race cars. Thanks to the Petersen Photo Archives, we've got a chance to visit this bookmark of insanity.
This Malibu was built by the late Ed Wood, a SoCal hot rodder notorious for some wild engine swaps, like a front-engine Olds 455ci-powered Corvair. The Malibu was stretched 13 inches up front and initially housed a pair of Olds 400ci V8s under its elongated hood. When 500hp wasn't enough, Wood bought a military surplus Allison V-1710 V12 engine, the same engine that powered a multitude of World War IIera warplanes, like the P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning.
Engineered by General Motors' Allison division, the V-1710 combined a 5.50-inch bore with a 6.00-inch stroke for a grand total of 1,710 ci (or about 28L). Power ranged from 1,000 to 2,300 hp from the factory, depending on application, but both ground- and sea-based racers found nearly 4,000 hp from the massive overhead-cam V12. After the war, surplus engines were cheap (vintage ads show them going for $350, a little more than $3,000 today), and they found their way into just about every form of American motorsport at the time.
When the Malibu was rebuilt, the chassis was updated and redesigned to accommodate the massive warplane engine, but retained its street-legal status. Wood made it a point in 1972 to show off its street-worthiness to HOT ROD Magazine. The body, while hinging open like a Funny Car, still retained a functioning hood, doors, and could carry a passenger in its two-seat interior.
The transmission was apparently a two-speed unit, with First gear being 1:1, with a 0.40-overdrive gear, and the massive torque of the V-1710 was quick to restripe the roads of Bakersfield, California, with little effort.
Wood also began a second Allison V12 Malibu around 1984, but the project was never completed due to health issues. This time it was to be a red convertible.
While Wood passed away on January 29, 2009, members of his family have been active in reaching out to the comments of a Flickr page that hosted some photos online. Bryan Wood, Ed Wood's nephew, was even intimidated by this monster as a child: "Being a kid, I was so scared of this car that I would walk large circles around it just to make sure that there was no chance of having to ride in it."
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