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November 2010 Drivelines

1970 Oldsmobile Front View
Drew Hardin
| Contributor
Posted November 1, 2010

Rod Hall Goes Xtreme, Chrysler "Demotes" Hemi and More!

Rod Hall Goes Xtreme
VORRA's Xtreme Outlaws 250 race outside of Reno, Nevada, had a real throwback: The Grabber Olds, once raced by actor James Garner, made the scene piloted by Rod Hall. The '70 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 was originally modified by Vic Hickey for Garner. A few years ago Ron Johnson came across what was left of the car and mounted a complete restoration.

Hall led a parade of Xtreme Outlaws' competitors to the start line in the Olds, and then raced the car until its alternator went south. A devoted fan found a replacement at a local auto parts store, and Hall was soon back on the course with sponsors and members of the media riding shotgun.

Emily Miller, driving Rod Hall Racing's Hummer H3, also had her share of problems. She lost a brake line and ran for some 60 miles without much stopping power before it was fixed. After the repair she ran hard, but Mike Shaffer in a JeepSpeed Cherokee nosed her out of a Class 7 victory by two seconds.

Roger Norman, who finished Second in Class 1, described the 65-mile course as "rock crawling, desert racing, and rally racing all in one. I didn't know we got to do all three."

Bigfoot in a Bow Tie?!?
Yes, Ford fans, your eyes aren't deceiving you. In a move that flies in the face of decades of tradition, a Bigfoot monster truck is dressed as a Chevrolet. How in the heck did this happen? Firestone, one of Bigfoot's major sponsors, has become the official tire of Major League Baseball. When the folks at Bigfoot 4x4 got wind of this, they saw an opportunity to have a monster truck at MLB's All Star Game. The hitch? Chevrolet is MLB's official truck.

So, could Bigfoot be a ... Chevy? "Yes!" said the Bigfoot 4x4 crew. They ordered a fiberglass Silverado monster truck body and even built a 540-inch Chevy big-block to power the truck.

Chrysler "demotes" Hemi
In another example of the world turned upside down, word has come out of Chrysler that it will no longer label its Hemi engines "Hemi" for certain Jeep and Chrysler models. How in the heck did this happen? It's all part of Chrysler's effort to "create a greener and more refined image," according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. As the automaker puts more marketing emphasis behind its V-6 Pentastar engine and fuel-sipping, Fiat-based four-bangers, Hemi apparently carries gas-guzzling connotations, not to mention a certain, um, unrefined quality. (Think back to when the Hemi was first planted in the Ram pickup and the TV ad with the two redneck numbskulls asking, "That thing got a Hemi in it?") A Hemi in a Jeep will be called simply a "5.7-liter V-8."

This nonsense doesn't apply to Ram trucks or Dodge cars. One unidentified dealer said in the WSJ article, "It's really just the Ram and Dodge owners who still wear the Hemi badge with pride." Huh?

V-6 Standard in '11 F-150
OK, we have one more weird one, but this may not be as bad as it sounds at first. Trade journal Automotive News reports the standard engine in the upcoming '11 Ford F-150 will be the 3.7L V-6 found in the base '11 Mustang. If that's the case (Ford would not confirm), it would actually give the new truck a more powerful engine than the current standard V-8. For '10 models, the F-150's base 4.6L, two-valve V-8 produces 248 hp. The Mustang's V-6 makes 305 hp, more than even the F-150's optional three-valve 4.6 (at 292 hp).

Now, the new V-6's 280 lb-ft torque peak falls below the standard 4.6's 294 lb-ft. And Mustang power peaks at pretty high engine speeds: torque at 4,250 rpm, horsepower at 6,500 rpm. But it wouldn't surprise us if Ford decides to tweak the 3.7 for better torque numbers at lower engine speeds before putting it in the F-truck. Plus, Automotive News also reports that the F-150 will have the Mustang's 5.0L V-8 as an option, with 412 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque.

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