Big Al's Featured Car's
Akron Arlens Vanke's 70 Duster
Owned by Andy Helfer
Pictures by Buddy Scoville & John Carollo at Leigh Cromleigh's
Story as interviewed at 2 Beer Chuck Reichmans home
with Akron Arlen Vanke by Big Al

This Racer driven by and built by Akron Arlen Vanke in 1970 had won all Five Division Three Points Meets and is the only one to ever do that. Akron Arlen and the Duster were Runner Up First Large Pro Stock Meet at Indianapolis and earned Akron Arlen the Title of “Prostock Driver of the Year” and Division 3 “Man of the Year”. The following year the Akron won the AHRA Winter Nationals at BeeLine Dragway in Scottsdale Arizona. Also during 1971 Firestone Tire used this team as a “Mule” to test their new compounds and designs of tires as many as 4 times a week. Akron Arlen really put the whip to his Horsepower and won around 70% of all the races they entered. Even when we placed a model Duster on the hood, it took the stance with a wheel starting to lift!

The power for this machine starts out as a 1966 Chrysler 426 cubic inch Hemi. The block was cleaned up and milled and shed 18 pounds of extra weight. It has a bore of 4.315” and a stroke of 3.75” capped off with Chrysler cast iron heads with Mullen’s revision work on them. The bump-stick is a Crane Roller R-290 with Direct Connection cut to length push rods with Battleship Springs by Crane pushing on Chrysler Valves. The valve assembly is covered with stock period correct chrome valve covers. The pistons are period correct TRW with step seal on the top ring and connected to Stock Beams which have been lightened and polished. These are wrapped around a Chrysler Kellogg Crank of pure steel that has had its fillets radiuses smoothed over.

The Milodon Oil pump s been altered with a home-brewed dual pick ups to suck in that lubricating oil! All of this is covered with an oil pan by Charlie’s Pans as made by Gilbertson. Spark was originally supplied by Chrysler Electronics but moved on to an MSD Multi Spark tachometer drive system. The breathing for this monster is through a pair of Holley 4500’s which give a flow of 11,000 CFM each! Talk about an Air Rush! These carburetors sit on top of a Wyand Tunnel Ram. Cooling this is a 1965 period correct aluminum Chrysler water pump moving the cooling fluid through a standard 318 cubic inch radiator. To vent the hot spent gasses to the back is a set of hooker Headers built by Akron Arlen at the Hooker Header Factory.

To grab all this power and aim it toward the rear-end is a Chrysler “Green Cover” clutch spinning on the input shaft of a A-833 4 speed Manual Transmission with a Slick Shift Process done which is no brass syncro rings and every other tooth on the synchronizers removed. Hurst provided the means to ram these gears together. Going through a drive shaft loop the driveshaft had to be shortened to accommodate the installed Dana 60 rear-end with a 5:12 to 1 gear ratio. The axles take the power to a set of Firestone Drag 500 30” tires with a 12 ½” wide footprint.

The 2 door body was tubbed a little for tire clearance. The front fenders, hood and trunk are fiber-glass and the front and rear bumpers have been acid dipped to shed a few pounds. The grill was replaced with a 1971 V-8 piece that was used on the 340 cubic inch models. The glass is stock from one of the many donor cars. The Custom Paint is a Lemon Twist with added Pearl and was sprayed by Greg of Akron. The chassis is stock with 50-50 shocks in the front and heavy duty in the back with Chrysler Heavy Duty stock springs. The brakes are Disk and Drum with no power.

The bucket seats in the front are from an A-100 Van in black vinyl and the back was covered in carpet. I believe the steering wheel is donated from a 1970 Barracuda and notice if you will the tape on the top dead center of the wheel to let Akron know when the wheels are straight when coming down off of one of his many Wheel Standing trips down the strip! The interior is much like factory with stock gauges, no horn button, radio, air conditioning, hand crank windows or back seat. Akron Arlen had made all the wiring changes needed to make this a Strip Machine. A period correct “Bolt In” roll bar offers the pilot of this wild ride some body protection. To bring this back to its current state Akron Arlen Vanke spent close to 3 years working on it with the help of “Hodge Restorations”.