Street Machine - - Contents -

EV­ERY­BODY loves a Hemi, and none more so than the peo­ple who like to get a quar­ter-mile down the road quicker than the bloke in the next lane. Graeme Cowin’s been do­ing it longer than most; the first in Oz to run a nine-sec­ond pass in a fuel al­tered, first to do a five-sec­ond pass in a ni­tro funny car and the first to run a four­sec­ond pass in a Top Fueller. And the Hemi has al­ways been his weapon of choice.

While we all know the Chrysler her­itage of the legendary Hemi en­gines, there isn’t a sin­gle part on this Hemi that ever saw duty in a road car. Built by Mike Kuhl Rac­ing En­ter­prises in Santa Ana, USA – of Kuhl & Ol­son fame – the en­gine is based on the early 392 block, but is an all-al­loy Dono­van ver­sion that has been pushed out to 440 cu­bic inches.

While the en­gine now sits on Graeme’s of­fice floor as an im­pres­sive con­ver­sa­tion piece – al­though I’d hate to hear what the clean­ers say about it – it’s no hol­lowed-out show­piece, hav­ing seen ac­tive duty in the re-cre­ation of Graeme’s most fa­mous race car, the Psy­cho fuel al­tered. Thanks to a healthy diet of ni­tro, 20 per cent over­drive on the blower and some­where be­tween 3000-3500hp, the highly en­ter­tain­ing short-wheel­base mon­ster went as quick as 6.84@212mph.

With Shane Olive at the wheel, the car has gone a lot quicker and faster, run­ning in the 6.0s at 240mph – but that wasn’t with this en­gine. With the ever-in­creas­ing sta­ble of rac­ing cars at Rocket In­dus­tries, a de­ci­sion was made to stan­dard­ise the en­gines, and as this one was quite dif­fer­ent in its spec­i­fi­ca­tion, it was re­tired to modelling du­ties. With around a dozen cars in the shed, it was a pretty smart move.

Any­way, you can see that al­though it’s an early-style Hemi, it’s quite dif­fer­ent to what you would have seen rac­ing in the late 60s and early 70s. Due to the rules in Nostal­gia ni­tro rac­ing, the en­gines have to be 392-based (not 426) and are lim­ited to a 6/71 blower. There’s an En­derle hat up top with six in­jec­tors, while an­other eight port in­jec­tors make sure there’s plenty of the good stuff get­ting poured in.

The en­gine is also fit­ted with a pan rail ex­ten­sion, which in­creases oil ca­pac­ity (no dry sump here) and also keeps the oil well away from the Bryant crank­shaft. The rest of the re­cip­ro­cat­ing assem­bly is made up of Veno­lia pistons and Brooks rods.

The spacer plate be­tween the heads and old-school M/T rocker cov­ers is there to clear the mod­ern val­ve­train com­po­nents, and the cov­ers have been fit­ted with grab han­dles for quick and easy re­moval. The fin­ish­ing touch is the Cowin/johns en­grav­ing, the Johns part re­fer­ring to Graeme’s girl­friend at the time, Wendy. Ob­vi­ously it was a good part­ner­ship, be­cause she ended up mar­ry­ing him!

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