Black pig

Watch the Awesome Black Pig Video here, (11mb).

The Black Pig is our race car, a '33 Plymouth 5 window coupe bodied Competition Altered . We belong to and race with a club known as the Wild Bunch, formed to promote the use of historic and nostalgia styled dragsters and active at all three major tracks in the UK. The club is currently enjoying it's tenth year of racing and we, our second.

The car was originally built in 1977 and campaigned by Reg Hazelton as “Thunderbird”, in the then popular ProComp class, sometime in the early 80's the car was sold on to Mick Hillier who ran it as “Pony Express” a name he applied to all his dragsters. Mick went on to build a more up to date chassis for himself and sold the chassis and body to Neil Benson, a garage owner in Hungerford who fitted a blown Daimler hemi motor and a 9” Ford axle, (sourced by your own favourite chief monkey). Neil had and has a pretty hectic business and the car languished in the back of various workshops for some while and every time I was passing I would stop in and give him a bit of stick about it until one day he said “if you think you can do better take the bloody thing and try”

Oh how simple it seemed, we would throw in a cheap and cheerful motor and box and go and play. Nearly two years later we finally got to a track and found out just how tricky it can be just to drive in a straight line as quickly as possible, luckily the Wild Bunch took us in and showed unstinting encouragement and knowledge to the simpletons in the little black altered and now, two years further on we are running in the nine second bracket with terminal speeds of 140mph with more to come.


The Black Pig takes shape.

When we got the car home from Neil's garage the first thing we did was to strip it down and see what we had. Basically there was a chassis with all manner of old mounts on it, a rear axle of unknown quantity with drum brakes, rear wheels and slicks, and front steel wheels, oh, and the body, still in Mick's colours.

The first thing we did was to clean back the paint around the welds and check them for cracks when this seemed OK we went ahead and made a new motor plate to mount the engine and gear box, dragsters generally have these components solidly mounted, The engine we had at the time was a 327ci Chevy, (actually bought as a 350, what did we know?). The gearbox, a two speed GM Powerglide, was picked up from West London through an ad in Custom Car and was used as

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bought, with just a change of oil. The front wheels were replaced with a set of Cobra Superslots that were a close match for the Wolfrace slots on the back and sourced from Steve Law's Speed shack, and the whole thing temporally wired. The back brakes were changed to Mercedes discs, they have the right bolt pattern and inset, which were mated with a pair of Austin Princess callipers, (four pot, you see). thanks Paul, that pretty much put it on the ground and capable of moving, or so we thought !
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When we were at a stage that we thought that the car could be started and test driven on our secret track we threw in some fuel and strapped on a battery. We carefully pulled the distributor and, using a tool we had made, spun the oil pump carefully turning the crank by hand, (well socket and bloody great bar

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actually). to get the slippery stuff all around the motor. When that was done we reset the dizzy and static timed it, turned the fuel pump on and set the float levels in the carb and finally spun it on the starter and hit the ignition button ……..Bugger that's loud, shut it off and pushed it outside, try again , yup, still loud but bearable. Jacking it up and putting it on stands we ran through the gears, amazing, we had some ! put it back on the ground and climb in, fire it up, grab a handful of brake, select drive, put two grand on the clock and dump the brakes. The motor all but dies, then painfully lugs the bare chassis down the road, not quite what we had hoped for. Back in the shed we pulled the heads and nearly fell down the gap past the rings, oh and don't the bores look pretty with all those nice lines up them, time for a rethink.

Whilst all this was going on we had started work on the body, it had arrived in our possession still wearing Mick Hillier's paint, so first job, cut that back to base coat and beyond and cut an escape hatch in the roof. In the end it was easier to cut the whole roof out and laminate a new section with a rebated opening and a hatch curved to suit the old roof line, somehow that seemed easier writing it than doing it. At this stage we mocked the body up on the chassis to check alignment, it was terrible, I assume the body had taken on a set from being stored out of level in a shed amongst other treasures, so a new mounting sub frame was fabricated and bonded into the area inside the “boot” and short extensions added to the chassis to carry the hinges. Finally new paint, it's a Hot Rod so no apologies for the satin black, it's the law!

The motor was still proving problematic so we threw a sheet over it and buggered off to Bakersfield to the California Hot Rod Reunion to watch the racing and do some shopping.


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Blaclk pig images
Click here to see 'Thunderbird'