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Zora Arkus-Duntov -- December 25, 1909 - April 21, 1996
"THOUGHTS PERTAINING TO YOUTH, HOT RODDERS, AND CHEVROLETĒ
The Hot Rod movement and interest in things
connected with hop-up and speed is still growing. As an indication: the
publications devoted to hot rodding and hop-upping, of which some half
dozen have a very large circulation and are distributed nationally, did
not exist some six years ago.
From cover to cover, they are full of Fords.
This is not surprising that the majority of hot rodders are eating, sleeping,
and dreaming modified Fords. They know Ford parts from stern to stern better
than Ford people themselves.
A young man buying a magazine for the first
time immediatly becomes introduced to Ford. It is reasonable to assume
that when hot rodders or hot rod-influenced persons buy transportation,
they buy Fords. As they progress in age and income, they graduate from
jalopies to second-hand Fords, then to new Fords.
Should we consider that it would be desirable
to make these youths Chevrolet-minded? I think that we are in a position
to carry out a successful attempt. However, there are many factors againt
- Loyalty and experience with Ford.
- Hop-up industry is geared with Ford.
- Law of number-thousands are and will be
working on Fords for active competition.
- Appearance of Fordís overhead V8, now one
year ahead of us.
When a superior line of GM V8ís appeared, there
where remarkably few attempts to develop these, and none too successful.
Also, the appearance of the V8ís Chrysler was met with reluctance even
though the success of Ardun-Fords conditioned them to the acceptance of
This year is the first one in which isolated
Chrysler development met with succsess. The Bonneville records are divided
between Ardun-Fords and Chryslers.
Like all people, hot rodders are attracted by
novelty. However, bitter experience has taught them that new development
is costly and long, and therefore they are extremely conservative. From
my observation, it takes an advanced hot rodder some three years to stumble
toward the successful development of a new design. Overhead Fords will
be in this stable between 1956 and 1957.
The slide rule potential of our RPO V8 engine
is extremely high, but to let things run their natural course will put
us one year behind-and then not too many hot rodders will pick Chevrolet
for development. One factor which can largely overcome this handicap would
be the availability of ready-enginered parts for higher output:
If the use of the Chevrolet engine would be
made easy and the very first attempts would be crowned with succsess, the
appeal of the new RPO V8 engine will take hold and not have the stigma
of expensiveness like the Cadillac or Chrysler, and a swing to Chevrolet
may be anticipated.This means the development of a range of special parts-camshafts,
valves, springs, manifolds, pistons, and such-should be made available
to the public.
To make good in this field, the RPO parts must
pertain not only to the engine but to the chassis coponents as well. In
fact, the use of light alloys and brake development, such as composite
drums and discs, are already on the agenda of the Research and Development
These thoughts are offered for what they are
worth-one manís thinking aloud on the subject.
Signed: Z. Arkus-Duntov
You can download a copy of the original letter here: "THOUGHTS PERTAINING TO YOUTH, HOT RODDERS, AND CHEVROLETĒ