468 cid Big Block Chevy Engine - Engine Builder Magazine

468 cid Big Block Chevy Engine

Kevin Willms has owned this 1930 Ford Roadster since the age of 17. He's now 62 and getting into the drag-and-drive scene with the roadster and its 468 cid big block Chevy engine. Check it out!

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There’s just something about an old-school roadster or hot rod with the exposed engine staring you in the face – you can’t help but stare back. Kevin Willms’ 1930 Ford Roadster with a big block Chevy engine was the tractor beam drawing us in on day 3 of Sick Week 2023 at South Georgia Motorsports Park. We were catching a glimpse of the car and the next thing we knew, we had owner Kevin Willms giving us the full details.

“I bought the roadster in 1978,” Willms told us. “I was 17 years old at the time. I’m 62 years old now. I’ve had it for a long time.”

Kevin has had the car so long in fact, that he’s had several engines in the car prior to the big block he currently has.

468 big block Chevy

“We put a 396 cid Chevy engine in it when I first had it, but we blew that up when I was a kid,” Willms admits. “I ran four races and won three of them. On the fourth, the oil pump pickup fell out, because the guy I got it from hadn’t welded it in, and we spun all the bearings. Being a kid, I was out of money, so the car got parked for almost 20 years.”

Thankfully, the 1930 Ford Roadster didn’t stay parked. Kevin managed to get it back on the street, and the next engine the car had was a junker 454.

“I had a junker 454 that I was trying to use with a supercharger, but I gave it too much timing and it blew a head gasket,” he says. “The 468 big block was a spare engine I had at the shop, so we swapped everything over. We put this engine in last year prior to Miles of Mayhem, which was our very first drag and drive.”

Willms plans to run Miles of Mayhem again, but it was his first time competing in Sick Week. He entered the Dial Your Own (DYO) class. In this class, racers are required to hand in one time slip per day above or dead-on 10.000. The winner will be the racer with the smallest spread of times throughout the week. For example, handing in slips of 10.501, 10.493, 10.525, 10.491 and 10.526 would be a spread of 0.035. In the event of a tie, the winner will be the racer with the quickest overall average for the week.

Kevin’s 468 cid big block Chevy features a mild cam and an 850 carburetor and was mated to a Turbo 400 transmission with a 9” Ford rear end and 3.25 gears. At home in Canada, Kevin says the big block Chevy helps the roadster get down the track in 11.30-11.40. Here at Sick Week, at sea level and the Florida climate, he was struggling to slow the car down, which makes the DYO class much more difficult.

“Here, I’m struggling to slow it down,” he says. “I’m going 11.10. It’s way better running here. It’s been crazy with this sea-level air – the car just keeps going quicker and quicker. This is an 11-second car. It’s a fun car to drive. The engine makes north of 500 horsepower, in the 510-520 hp range.”

While the car performs well on the track, Kevin told us it was even more fun to drive and cruise on the street.

“It’s a great car to cruise in,” he says. “My wife and I love taking it out in the evenings for drives, and you’ll get a lot of people wanting to take pictures of it. The car is a hoot to drive on the street, and we’ve even taken it to autocross events.”

All-in-all, Willms told us Sick Week had lived up to expectations.

“It’s been great to be around some of the big names in this arena and be able to walk up to them and shake their hand and talk to them,” Willms says. “Wonderful people, wonderful staff, and everybody has been really, really supportive. If anybody has trouble, everybody comes and helps you out – it’s great.”

At the end of the week, Willms survived five days of drag-and-drive competition and more than 1,000 miles of driving. He handed in time slips of 11.18 at 115 mph, 11.27 at 113 mph, 11.18 at 108 mph, 11.16 at 106 mph, and 11.21 at 114 mph for a five-day average of 11.20 at 111 mph and a spread of 0.114.

Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade1Elring – Das Original and 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].

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