Harvey K '33 Ford 3 window coupe

Engine break-in midnight trip

Over 55 years ago I met my future best friend and car buddy, Buster. I was attracted to his car, a 33 Ford coupe, perhaps more than to him at first. The coupe was already hot rodded with a built flathead engine. About a year later Buster decided he wanted to build a hotter engine and started building a 3/8x3/8 (296 cu in) '48 Ford engine with all the goodies;porting and relieving the block, high compression aluminum heads full race cam 3 carbs, etc. We completed the engine assembly and installed the engine in the car one weeknight, finishing just before midnight. Since the engine needed to be "broken in" we decided to drive from his home in the San Fernando Valley (So Calif) to Bakersfield, some 100 miles away for "a cup of coffee". We left the exhaust cutouts open as this trip over the"Grapevine" to Bakersfield didn't require going through any towns once we left the valley.

The trip to Bakersfield went without incident as we drove the car varying speeds form 50 to 65 MPH. We did get that cup of coffee and headed back home but, since the engine now had over 100 miles on it, Buster decided to see what it would.do. On the trip up the mountain grade he accelerated to speeds of over 90 MPH several times and the acceleration was really good considering we were pulling a steep grade. We reached the top of the grade and started down the grade at about 60 MPH but as we got a little closer to the valley Buster decided to try one more full throttle run without the grade. The car quickly reached about 100 MPH and he let up and let the car return to 60 MPH just as the Highway Patrol red lights lit up behind us. We pulled to the shoulder and stopped. The officer approached the car and asked the usual "do you know how fast you were going back there"? Buster replied he wasn't sure and the officer said he estimated our speed at at least 100. We explained that we were breaking the car in and chose this route because of the light traffic at this time of night. He looked the car over and came back to say he wasn't going to ticket us but it might be a good idea to cap the exhaust cutouts before going back into the city.

We didn't as the officer left and we drove back to Buster's house without incident, at the speed limit. This was the beginning of a partnership that eventually led to several successful drag cars.

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