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August 2011 Inbox - Letters To The Editor

June Four Wheeler Cover
Posted August 1, 2011

Top Truck Challenge, Tall Jeeps, and Mislabled Engines

Mensa Candidates = Not Us?
Looking through your “Engine IQ Test” answers (“Willie’s Workbench,” June ’11), I may be wrong (and often am), but it looks like your answers could use some tweaking. For instance, you say:

“Cobra Jet: 429 Ford performance engine; higher-horsepower version referred to as a Super Cobra Jet.”

Nothing wrong with the answer, but you dissed the original Cobra Jet. It was the FE-based 428. The 429 CJ followed.

Also, according to you:

“Interceptor: 312ci Ford “police” Y-block V-8; 210 horsepower, used from 1957-60. Name later used in 1968-69 for 429ci FE V-8.”

The 429ci was part of the 385 family of big-blocks (along with the 460). The FE line included the 390, 427, and 428, among others.
Michael Reagan
Via the Internet

After reading “Willie’s Workbench,” I found myself double-checking two of the engine names that stick in my head.

The first was “Turbo-Fire V-8,” which I was sure of because I had one in my ’70 Nova SS. I ended up checking out the Chevy small-block info on Wikipedia (great site). According to Wiki, the small-block V-8 first became noticed (nicknamed) as the “Mighty Mouse” motor (after the cartoon character) and later shortened to “Mouse.”

The next one I didn’t see was “Wildcat,” which I only knew from the ’60s Buick Wildcat. It had a 465 engine (the torque rating, not the displacement), which had dual four-barrel carbs from the factory. After reading Wiki, I found out that it came in several different displacements and carb configurations. It’s from the family of Buick V-8s known as “Nailheads” (which also was not on your list). The Wildcat was available from 1962 until 1966, and the dual four-barrel version (known as “Super Wildcat”) was originally shipped with the intake and carbs in the trunk to be installed at the dealership; in 1966, it was possible to be ordered with dual fours from the factory.

Another neat fact I found was that the SR-71 Blackbird used a Wildcat engine mounted on a trolley for a starter motor.
Harold Shumate
Via the Internet

You forgot the first one of all: the Flathead Ford.

There also happens to be an engine called the “Lightning” that was also put in the Willys Jeep. I know because I have a ’46 Willys with said engine. When I was younger, I worked in an engine rebuilding shop, and we serviced government contracts to build anything from Jeep engines to big Continental engines for 5-ton military trucks. I did teardowns, checked for spun bearings, and dusted for cracked blocks. Now the Lightning is somewhat of a weird make by Continental that has a two-piece rear seal, as the “Go Devil” in the Jeep has a rope-type of rear seal. In my years of working at the engine rebuilder’s, I never ran across a Jeep engine with a two-piece rear seal—all had the rope seal and the rope that goes down the sides of the main bearing as this one does.
Joey M. Toth
Via the Internet

Hey, you forgot the Mopar “Maxwedge” of the early ’60s and the “Magnum” of the late ’60s. (We refer to a Chevy engine as a “Boat Anchor,” but that’s just a Mopar family’s preference.)
Tom Kough
Via the Internet

We researched all of our engine data as thoroughly as possible, but we figured there’d probably a few minor flubs among all the names, dates, and applications we cited. (Actually, we’re kinda surprised we only messed up those two Ford motors.) Of course, there were plenty of old engine names we just plain forgot to include, or that we omitted due to lack of space—which means we may need to publish another IQ Test sometime down the road. Thanks to all who wrote in with their suggestions.

Super Jeep Mistaken Identity
You’re mistaken about the 1976 Super Jeep (“Jeep: The First 70 Years,” May ’11). The Super Jeep was a 1973 model year option and available for only that year. The pictures shown of the two “Super Jeeps” are of ’73 models, not ’76 models. You can tell by the outside windshield wiper motor cover, the high placement of “Jeep” logo on the sides, and the black windshields. The ’76-and-later model years had inside-mounted wiper motors, body colored windshields, and “Jeep” placed lower on the sides. Also, the ’75 CJ-5 Renegade in the picture is actually a ’76 CJ-7 Renegade. I also have sales brochures from 1976 that claim that the 304 V-8 was standard with the Renegade package, contrary to what you state.
Mitch Dunbar
Wichita, KS

You’ve got a sharp eye. Thanks for the corrections.

Garage-Friendly Silver Bullet JK
About that Trail Master 4½-inch short-arm kit for JKs (“Rock Bound,” May ’11): You put 37-inch tires on your Jeep. Will it fit in a standard-height parking garage or home garage? I’d really like to go 37s (instead of 35s), but I have to be able to get it into a parking garage.
Danny Kidd
Amelia, OH

Robin Stover replies: The Silver Bullet project Jeep does indeed fit inside most typical garage structures when equipped with 37-inch tires shown in the article, but with 40-inch rubber, it would be questionable. The total height of the rig on 37s is 6’ 4”. I suggest you check the clearance of your garage first. Happy wheeling.

Top Truck: Who Goes, Who Blows (Guess Who?)
I am totally unsatisfied with the Top Truck Challenge results for 2011. In the Jeep class, I understand four Canadians got in. We bought every magazine we could find (that’s in three states), and for the second year in a row, the best Jeep did not get in again. He was the alternate for last year (Terry Estes out of Texas), and he should have automatically gotten in this year. He is the only diesel-powered rig in the group, and I feel sure that he would win if he could only get in. What you can do? Put 10 in each class and also make the entry ballots easier to come by.
James Patterson
Neeces, SC

Well shucks, we only count the ballots, so if our field of competitors is all-Canadian, all-American, or all-Cyborg, it’s out of our control.

About magazine and ballot availability, that’s a valid point, and one we’ll continue to work with our circulation department to improve. As an alternative, we’ve heard some crazy rumors of people ordering hundreds of magazines from our back issues department ( just to get a hold of the extra ballots in the April issue. You might give ’em a shout next year and see if they can help you out.

About doubling the size of our field, well, it’s a lot easier said than done. We’d pretty much need to double the size of Top Truck’s annual operating budget to make it work, which is another way of saying it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. You can see the list of this year’s finalists online at, and we’ll have complete coverage of TTC in our November and December issues.

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