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My Memories of Y Blocks

Posted By Florida_Phil Last Year
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Florida_Phil
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I have always been crazy about cars.  Before I had one of my own, my buddy had a 1954 Ford 2 door post sedan with a 292 and a three speed manual with a cheap floor shifter.   It had faded green paint and the interior was ratty.  He jacked up the front end with pieces of wood in the front springs.  It had Cadillac rear tires and black painted rims.  His car was a piece of crap, but I thought it was the coolest car around.   My buddy's  car would leave long streaks of rubber on demand.   We used to have burn out contests and the Y blocks always won.

When I went to college my parents bought me a little foreign car.  College didn't work for me, so I dropped out and went to work.  I traded my "nurdy" car for a 1956 Victoria I bought off  a car lot.  It had a 292 with a three speed manual tranny.  Cheap floor shifter and all, I was cruising in style.   I also collected traffic tickets like stamps.

Y block engines were cheap back then.  You could buy a whole running car for $150.  I kept upgrading engines until I found one that ran good.   The holy grail was a 312.  I never found one of those until much later.  The Y block was cheap, reliable, easy to work on and forgiving.  You could jerk one out of a 1957 Ford wagon, hose it off, throw on a 4 barrel and go racing. 

I had a friend who was in a band.  He was always trading stuff for guitars and amps.  On day he came by my house with a 1957 Ford Victoria 2 door.  I could tell it was something special because the motor was loping big time.  He popped the hood and I saw my first triple carb Y block.  It had a "full race" 312 with a real Hurst shifter.  We drove the car around for a week and it seemed like the fastest car around.   Of course he blew up the engine and traded it for another guitar.

Another time I visited a guy who had a 1956 Ford custom Victoria.  He was a well known racer and kept the car in the back of his garage.  Back then everyone named their cars.  This car had "Any Time" painted on the side.   The hood was louvered and headers were hanging out under the wheel wells.  He popped the hood and I was staring at a six carb YBlock.  Nothing I have seen since has been that cool.

Old Fords have always been part of my life.  I've had big block Galaxies and Shelby Mustangs.  I've bought new Cobra Jets and had lots of hot cars.   Y blocks will always have a special place in my heart.  They were my first hot rod and they are just cool. 


MplsMike
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Great story Florida Phil. Your T Bird is awesome, by the way!

MplsMike
'56 Parklane
Minneapolis, MN
Florida_Phil
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Thanks for the comments.  I grew up in Miami Florida in the sixties.  Back then cars and my soon to be wife were my main interests.  The car hobby got me into an engineering career that has been good to me.  I never forgot those days.   We spent our Saturdays driving from one hot rodder's shop to the other.  There was always something interesting happening.   Y blocks were never race track terrors.  The 352 came out in 1958.  The FE engines quickly moved the Y blocks to the back of the bus. Y blocks were cheap and plentiful.  Perfect for a kid with little money to spend.  
Daniel Jessup
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Phil:
You need to write an article on your stories for the Y block magazine!

Daniel Jessup

Loveland, Ohio

aka "The Hot Rod Reverend" w00t
check out the 1955 Ford Fairlane build at www.hotrodreverend.com


Florida_Phil
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I have thought about writing a book about my hot rod adventures.  Some of the stories are really funny.  Others are tragic.  I'm not sure if anyone would want to read it. 
Daniel Jessup
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well, you can start your numbering with the Hot Rod Reverend - I would read them.

Daniel Jessup

Loveland, Ohio

aka "The Hot Rod Reverend" w00t
check out the 1955 Ford Fairlane build at www.hotrodreverend.com


FORD DEARBORN
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I'll be next in line to read your great book.    Nice story Florida Phil - I think our paths in life are very close in time. There probably coudn't be more fun than being a teenager growing up at a time when the bone-yards were full of 50's cars. The Y-block was the most fun and most rewarding, hands down. Picking big valve heads, centrifugal distributors, modern carburetors and all that, but the most coveted item was finding a 57 cam. Didn't matter how "used" it was. Imagine junkyards full of this stuff here in the salty North. Cars didn't last long in those days especially up here in Michigan.  My buddies (or anyone) with 55 and 56's were aways looking for the 265/283 guys to race.  All for not much money at all.   Start writing what comes to mind. You may  be amazed how well the memory chip works.     JEFF.....................


64F100 57FAIRLANE500
Florida_Phil
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OK, here's one for you.

"The Day the Y Block Won"

Back in the early sixties, Miami had a street racing problem.  Racers would meet at night 20 miles west of town on a road called Krome Avenue. These midnight drags were getting pretty big with hundreds of kids lined along the road.  Cars would come from all over South Florida to race the local favorites.  The cops would try to bust them up, but the kids had a police radio and would always stay one step ahead of them.   One night the cops outfoxed us and busted about 100 kids for "Illegal Assembly".  We didn't know what that was actually, but our parents weren't very happy about it. After that, they set up legal drags on the runway at the old Amelia Earhart air field. The drags were run on Sunday and very popular.  They had tech inspections and wouldn't let you run a stick shift car unless you had a scatter shield.

A buddy of mine had a 55 Ford post sedan with a hot 292.   He was the only one in our group that could afford a scatter shield, so he would run at these Sunday races.   His car was a real sleeper.  It looked like a little old ladies car.  He didn't have a racing helmet, so they let him use a hard hat that he tied on his head with a bandana. The races were "run what you brung" without classes.  They had a sort of eliminator and gave away a trophy for the final winner.  

One Sunday he was knocking off cars left and right.  That little Ford wasn't the fastest car, but it was consistent. The traction on that old runway was terrible.  The more power you had the worse your tires would spin.  A 57 scruby was the fastest car there that day.  It had a 409 motor, a 4 speed and sounded strong.  The final run of the day was the bad '57 and my buddy's 55 Ford sedan.  It was a real David and Goliath race.   The flagman started the race and the scruby blew off the tires.  Each time the scruby would catch a gear, it would shoot off like a rocket.  The little Ford kept running along gaining speed.  We were all on our feet cheering for the Ford.  Money was flying around as the gamblers were betting on their favorites.  That scruby driver missed every gear there was and a few that we didn't know existed.  We all jumped for joy as that 55 sedan crossed the finish line a winner.

For a 292 to beat up on a 409 was unbelievable. It's not how much noise you make, it's who gets there first.



slumlord444
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I've lost track of how many small block scruby's I beat with various Y Blocks over the years and all of the good times I had in them with various lady's back in the day. Could write my own book. Got beat sometimes and had lady's who blew me off but had a lot of fun and still have fond memories. Fortunately the statute of limitations has expired on most of this.
Florida_Phil
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"Fortunately the statute of limitations has expired on most of this."

That's for sure.  Laugh


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