In today’s performance car and engine world, there are some truly well-engineered race vehicles to be seen. They feature top-of-the-line components and custom-made, one-off parts – they scream dollar bills. Of course, not everyone who enjoys performance and racing cars can afford vehicles like that.
As has always been the case, there are plenty of vehicles that, due to necessity, have stayed more true to the original culture of hot rodding. They are typically older cars, feature clever mechanical tricks and less of the high-dollar componentry, but are no less impressive. Trust us, these cars are just as cool to look at, and maybe even more fun to drive.
At Sick Week, we came across a few vehicles that fell into the “original hot rod” category, and one in particular belonged to Jason Schaefer. We caught up with Jason and his 1929 Ford hot rod, which features a supercharged 454 big block Chevy engine, at Orlando Speedworld during the second day of the drag-and-drive event. Jason was hanging out, lovin’ life and sharing the experience with his best friend – his dog named Angel.
“We’re having a blast,” Schaefer told us. “If I act silly, it’s because this is my first real interview.”
It might have been Jason’s first time being interviewed about his car and engine setup, but it certainly wasn’t Jason’s first foray in hot rodding and drag racing. He’s owned his 1929 Ford, nicknamed Da Chicken Coupe, since 1993.
“The brief history on the car is it’s a 1929 Ford that I got it in ’93,” Schaefer says. “I was a young kid. When my wife was pregnant, I took her to the hospital the night she had our first son in this car. We also drove from Tennessee to Florida all the time. I’m all about driving. As such, I was never interested in putting this car on a trailer. Going from a trailer to driving for 10 seconds, and then putting it back on a trailer – that just took the fun out of it for me.
“I would put my kids in the rumble seat when we would do trips from Tennessee to Florida. We drove to the HAMB Drags, 950 miles and ran 10-second quarters, but then I wanted to build it more streetable. I kind of lost the zeal until my kids grew up and moved away.”
That’s when Jason got his best friend Angel, a dog that’s always in his passenger seat. She rides with Jason for both work and play.
“She’s got about 350,000 miles on her,” he told us. “When Sick Week came about, I asked her if she wanted to go, and she started going crazy. I said, alright, so we suited up and this is our first drag-and-drive event and its killer.”
Jason’s 454 big block Chevy is not extravagant compared to what some of the other Sick Week competitors came to play with, but it’s no less cool.
“I just want to inspire the people who don’t have the money to do what everybody else is doing, because you don’t have to spend the money,” he points out. “It’s about being the right mechanic, not about having the right billfold.”
The Chevy block is originally from a marine application, which meant it was full of rust when Jason got it. He paired the block with a set of “Chinese” heads, and he says he spent too much on getting new valves.
“It’s a Gen 6, which costs about $2,000 to replace the block,” he says. “I just used J-B Weld on the water jackets. Then, I found out my head bolts only had like three threads, so I used a couple heli-coils and I made it work. I’ve gotten probably 2,000 miles on it already hitting 8-lbs. of boost. My first time down the track was day one at Sick Week. I kept it really soft, low timing, very rich – kind of a show-car tune – and I went 10.80 with the over drive. It’s never been more streetable than with this combination.”
Jason told us he got some help learning blower tolerances recently, which has helped him with his Weiand. And, he also picked up some carburetor tricks on YouTube.
“Instead of spending $1,000 dollars each on carburetors, watch the YouTube videos to learn how to drill it out and boost reference your own carburetors,” Schaefer says. “That’s the part that inspires me about hot rodding. It used to be about taking junkyard parts and putting them on a car. Now, it seems like today, everybody thinks you have to buy the parts.”
Jason says his 454 was cranking out between 600-700 horsepower during Sick Week. He purposefully left his smaller blower pulley at home, so he wouldn’t be tempted to use it and potentially cause an engine issue.
“I’m babying it between 600-700 horsepower,” he says. “I could turn it up, but I don’t think the head bolts would stay intact. I knew what I would do, so I did not bring my small pulley. If I bring the small pulley, then I’ll use it. I just left it at home. It could go 700-800 horsepower if I turned it up a bit.”
As it was, Jason managed a great week competing in the Bulls Eye Challenge class, which meant attempting to run as close to a specific number each day, regardless of how many seconds you ran. The Bulls Eye times for the week were 52, 24, 48 and 66. Jason ran times of 10.89 (37 spread), 10.43 (19 spread), 10.61 (13 spread), and a 10.64 (2 spread), giving him an average of 10.648 at 130.33 mph.
Jason arrived at Sick Week looking for fun, and he definitely accomplished that goal. He’s got a really cool car with some cool history, and we’re glad to see he’s maintained the original hot rod culture with his 454 big block Chevy.
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor Oil, Elring – Das Original and Engine & Performance Warehouse Inc./NPW Companies. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected]