Arruzza High Performance , How it all began.
My first car was a 65 Dodge Dart , nothing special , slant six , automatic but car came with an 8 ¾ rear and a sure grip unit . The “double dig” did impress my friends , my Dad was less than pleased as I had to show all my friends and tore up the yard and driveway in the process.
My first true muscle car was a virgin 440 Super commando Superbird , in 1980 $ 5800 was a lot of money but that was a lot of car ! I always figured , if a 440 was that strong, I have to get a Hemi , I bought my first 426 Engine from an ad in Hemmings, Had it sent yellow freight , I didn’t trust anyone with the engine so had work done , one task at a time by numerous shops then assembled it myself. She would run ! .070 over , stock 3.75 stroke , Racer Brown solid flat tappet cam , ported 1969 heads, Vanke intake with 750 carters and Hooker 5210’s .Max wedge dual point. I was afraid of nobody.
I never did put an exhaust system on the car. I was hooked. King Kong ruled my world. Never got outrun with that 68 Hemi roadrunner . People would ask, “who built your Hemi ? I would tell them I assembled it and before long I had Hemi engines to build , Herb McCandless did the bulk of my machine work for a good while.
Herb was great , taught me what to do, what not to do , where to find horsepower , how to keep them together. That kind of education can’t be found in books. Cotton Owens shared many secrets and “lessons learned” over my early years. Without Herb , Cotton , Maurice Petty , Dale Nichols , Larry King , Berge Ilanjian “Hemi George “ and many others who have been so very helpful over the years I doubt I would be as well rounded in my 426 Hemi knowledge as I currently am.
Spending 20 years building 500 Hemi engines , day and night helps.
One thing that has really given me a “handle” on old King Kong is my constant wrenching on my own Hemi powered muscle cars. I’ve had at least one Hemi car in the garage for the past 20 years and the experience gathered cant be measured.
I’ve tried it all. Keith Black induction with webers , crossrams, blowers , 1050 dominators , big cubes , destokers , high compression , high rpm engines , ratroasters , NASCAR inverted tunnel rams , the worlds only A279 Ball stud Hemi , the worlds only A148 tall port NASCAR hemi , These cars I’ve owned have made it possible for me to understand one critical thing lost among many . What lights up the dyno may be a pig on the street and impossible to live with. What will truly make a customer happy is an engine that delivers the goods and is flexable. By flexible I mean , any rpm , just a little throttle and the engine pulls. A street engine has to be capable of delivering torque anytime , in any gear. If you downshift, she needs to pull , If your in high gear and just lay into the gas, she needs to pull. The engine needs to run clean , no loading up or being “stinky”. The engine needs to run cool. An engine that runs wide open is not real hard to achive , try and make it user friendly and happy whatever the conditions, that the trick. It’s easy to be sold on a Dyno number but that’s childs play. Getting the thing on kill , anytime , anywhere , now theres the task at hand.
There's more than just the engine to consider , the right flywheel , the gear ratio , the correct ignition system , the exhaust system , one mistake can make you believe something else is wrong and you’ll be chasing your tail. All my customers can get helpful insight and advice throughout the “build” of their car with just a phone call. I enjoy helping my customers with their projects . If I don’t know the answers I surely know someone who does , that’s all a part of my customer service.
I have had the distict pleasure and honor to build numerous 426 Hemi’s for Richard Petty . Richard loves the 426 , his first Championship was 1964 and some of his greatest years were with a Maurice Patty built Hemi under the hood. I currently have a Hemi Superbird and Hemi Charger Daytona , both 4 speed s and both sporting my 517 Package , just a couple of “test mules” for “out in the country” research and development!
Over the years I have been fortunate to get to know ledgends of my youth, Herb McCandless , Ronnie Sox , Jake King , Cotton Ownes, The Pettys , Richard and Maurice , Dick Landy , Tom Hoover , Keith Black all wonderfully talented , helpful and friendly. I’ve been blessed to be able to make a living working on the things I love , Mopar muscle cars and Chryslers finest achievement , the 426 Hemi , the greatest V8 engine ever built , from a twinkle in Tom Hoovers eye to over 40 years of superiority , thanks Mr. Hoover.