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The car show in Seattle that was green and cool, too

Posted in Auto Show by Terry Parkhurst | July 18th, 2008 | Leave a Reply |

John Wayland points to the Zilla controller and two electric motors that make his car the world's fastest street legal electric-powered drag car; pulling sub-12 second ETs in the quarter miles and beating Corvettes. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
John Wayland points to the Zilla controller and two electric motors that make his car the world's fastest street legal electric-powered drag car; pulling sub-12 second ETs in the quarter miles and beating Corvettes. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)

Folks looking for answers to the question “how does one stay green and have fun with their car” found several answers at the 16th annual Greenwood district car show in Seattle, Washington on the last Saturday in June. It was a record turnout for the show with vehicles stretching for a mile, on either side of Greenwood Avenue North.

Harold Shew hovered over his slightly modified 1963 Plymouth Valiant station wagon like a proud papa. It was, after all, the car “I used in work for 6 years and put 400,000 plus miles on (it).”

However, to look at Shew’s car, you’d never have known it. While the exterior and interior looked fine, the $6,000 investment he’d made was in the engine compartment. The 170 cubic-inch Slant 6 engine had a Clifford intake manifold with a two barrel carburetor and chromed air cleaner setting atop it.

Shew claimed mileage up to 30 miles-per-gallon and said his next improvement would be a wood mount for the water pump; as a way to reduce heat.

But a block south was the area where the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA) held forth, with cars that were guaranteed not to burn one iota of gasoline.

John Wayland brought his 1972 Datsun 1200 electric-powered drag racecar the “White Zombie” up from Portland, Oregon. It showed that electric cars don’t have to be boring. The white Datsun, retrofitted to run with two electric forklift motors, sandwiched together under the hood, can hit 60 miles-per-hour from a standing start in just 2.9 seconds. In the quarter mile, it has achieved an elapsed time of 11.46 seconds and a trap speed of 114.08 miles-per-hour.

Further down the mile, Golden Wheels racing fraternity showed that double-overhead camshaft technology is nothing new. Several ¾ “midget” racecars, designed to be smaller versions of the venerable Indy roadsters of the 1930s through early ‘60s, sat. They sported vintage double-overhead camshaft cylinder heads on in-line four cylinder engines of Offenhauser, Ford and obscure independent designs.

In the midst of it, was the John Zink Special, a vintage Champ racecar, painted a dazzling shade of “Zink Pink,” more commonly known as the “Dusty Rose” found on the 1955 Ford Crown Victoria.

Just across the street from Golden Wheels, setting on a trailer, was the Top Fuel (AA/FD) Slingshot dragster campaigned in the Sixties by Jim Crooke. It featured a full restoration by Jim Green Performance Center with upholstery by Tony Nancy (who did the original upholstery), Paint by SO-CAL Speed Shop and artwork and lettering by Tom Kelly and Dennis Ricklifs.

Most people stopped and then slowly investigated the engine, which is a rarely seen 1967 Ford single-overhead camshaft 427 cubic-inch V8, with an aluminum block. Additional, enhancements included: a Vancharger supercharger, Enderle fuel injector, Crane crankshafts, Mickey Thompson magnesium intake manifold and an Schiefer clutch and magneto.

Jim Crooke stills drives the vintage dragster in exhibition races.

So car junkies take heart. The demise of the private automobile in the mainstream media is, as Mark Twain once said about the report of his own demise (while he was still above ground), “Greatly exaggerated.” - Terry Parkhurst

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