Q: Greg, what changes have to be made to put overhead valves on a flathead engine? Thanks, Dennis “Mike” Scott, Manson, N.C.
A: Dennis, the Flathead Fords have really caught on again with hot rodders as the nostalgia market continues to boom. As for those heads, the person behind much of the Chevy Corvette’s success, namely Zora Arkus-Duntov along with his brother Yura, built and sold a hemi style overhead valve Ardun Head for the Flathead V-8. They were purchased mostly by Bonneville land-speed racers way back in the 1950s.
The good news today is that Don Ferguson Jr., who along with his dad raced an Ardun head-equipped Flathead V-8 at Bonneville, resurrected the Ardun Head by purchasing all of the tooling from a noted author, Don Orosco, who built 30 sets of the former Ardun heads to run in England. The Ferguson contact is www.ardun.com or write to: Don Ferguson, Ardun Enterprises, Box 205, Wilmington, CA 90744. Don’s business number is 323-775-6803.
Just to let you know, this much-improved Ferguson-built Ardun cylinder head conversion set isn’t cheap, as $13,950 is what will be needed to bolt a set on your flathead. There are other companies out there, too, but the Ferguson-Ardun is the cream of the crop and merits this mention.
Notably, a very rare “Stephens” conversion flathead overhead valve head is owned by “Speedy” Bill Smith out in Lincoln, Neb. His “Speedway Motors” has the largest collection of antique race engines in the world (also has a huge Pedal car collection), and you can check his “Stephens” flathead conversion in action on YouTube. It’s one of only four known to exist. Speedway Motors can also help you with any and all Flathead V-8 parts if you decide the conversion may be too expensive. Check out www.speedwaymotors.com or call them at 1-800-979-0122 for assistance.
Good luck with your Flathead and let me know what happens.
Can Danica drive?
Q: Greg, I know you are involved in racing and although this isn’t a question about old-time racing, what is your opinion of Danica Patrick in NASCAR racing? Everyone puts her down and says she’ll never make it. What’s your opinion? Lana K., New York.
A: Lana, I personally feel anyone who can go to Martinsville and finish 12th on the lead lap when the checkered flag drops indeed has the ability to be in NASCAR racing - girl or guy! Patrick has been under the microscope for years now with her NASCAR racing, and I feel she will one day win a race, and it may happen sooner than later. Granted, the learning curve is big, but I feel she’s already been accepted by the “good old boys” for both her driving abilities and her ability to attract sponsor dollars (just ask Tony Stewart).
I believe Patrick’s performance at Martinsville was even better than her performance at Daytona, because running well at Martinsville demands a good driver, and some luck, too. I wish they would let her alone and just get on with the racing.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse Media and welcomes reader questions at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Zyla: Flathead V-8 cylinder heads and Danica Patrick