The Edelbrock ’32 roadster is one of the most recognized cars in all of hot rodding. (Photo Courtesy Edelbrock)
His first jobs were pushing brooms and cleaning bathrooms. He eventually graduated to building engines and working the almighty dyno. Vic Jr. had attended college at the University of Southern California and earned a degree in business, “It was never about lack of intelligence or an insult,” laughed Vic Jr.
This watch-and-study progression serves as a “rite of passage,” as it builds thinking men out of boys. The attitude is evident in this respectful quote by Vic Jr. about working for his father, “When you cut your teeth at the bottom of the business and work your way through the ranks, you never forget where you came from and how crucial and valued everyone is in a family-run business. You are forced to watch what is really going on and think about it. It is what my father believed and I have lived by that philosophy all my life. It is a lesson that has served me well. Don’t get me wrong, we had disagreements, too. When I was out of college my father and I had two very different viewpoints when opportunities arose for promoting Edelbrock Performance Parts.”
When Vic Jr. was thrust into the spotlight of running the Edelbrock company at the young age of twenty-six, many people expected him to crack under the extreme day-to-day pressure. Not only did he endure the lows, he raised the company to new heights. The Edelbrock company, along with the family and valued friends, emerged as one of America’s finest national treasures. The rich history of the Edelbrock legacy and its cars is a script about hot rodding’s origins that reads like no other.
We don’t own stock in the Edelbrock company and we live about as far away from California as you can get in the United States. Although, if you have seen our hot rods or were to visit Spike’s living room or my barn in Upstate New York, you’d find it is filled with a coveted array of Edelbrock speed parts, both vintage and new. Why? Because it is about “bang for the buck” as far as combustion engines go. Edelbrock performance is outstanding. The parts are as dependable as the day is long and their looks are out of this world. The parts are reasonably priced for the average working person, and most importantly, manufactured right here in the United States.
We are just a couple of backyard hot-shoe tinkerers recording history about the evolution of the go-fast jalopies from the backroads of America. When Vic Edelbrock, Jr. returned our request for a book interview, we were visibly stunned and, quite frankly, dumbfounded. He took the time from his incredibly busy work load to assist us with our story. He helped us for no other reason than the “love of hot rods.” During the interview Vic Jr. spoke to us as if we were old friends. He asked questions, listened intently, and valued what we had to say.
Family Car or Full-On Racer
When Vic Edelbrock, Sr. began repairing automobiles in Southern California in 1933 during the Great Depression, he was fascinated and influenced by the various types of racing taking place from dirt tracks to the dry lakes. By the end of the thirties, Vic Sr. had purchased a ’32 Ford Roadster from an injured, out-of-work stuntman. Vic Jr. recalls, “That was our only mode of transportation. It was a full-on race car for the dry lakes, but when my dad put the fenders back on, it was our trusty family car and daily driver. That was all we had.”
The ’32 Ford went on to make history with all-out record-setting speeds for a V-8 roadster (121.42 mph) at the dry lakes in December 1941. Using many of his own speed parts and the now infamous Edelbrock Slingshot flathead intake manifold, Vick Sr. proved to the racing community that his designs in speed equipment improved performance, in part due to the success of his time trials.
Vic Sr. was an extremely intelligent man and had gleaned many speed secrets that he kept private just to stay a nose ahead of the competition. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, World War II had just begun and it instantly changed the way of life for everyone, hot rodders included. During the war, Vic Sr. worked tirelessly welding the hulls of warships in the yards of Long Beach. Shortly after the war, all forms of racing in California picked back up with a feverous pitch. The knowledge and amount of technology available due to war-time industries brought about incredible advancements to the field of hot rodding.
Hot rods soon turned to street racing and were looked upon as a menace to public safety. Vic Sr. became a noted member of the Road Runner Car Club and raced alongside such legends as Wally Parks and Ak Miller. Racing under a club name helped to organize a bunch of loose cannons and give hot rodding and, later, drag racing respectability.
More Power with…Edelbrock
The development of speed equipment for the Edelbrock company pre dates World War II. Vic Sr. was a genius when it came to solving problems. As told by Vic Jr. in the amazing book by Tom Madigan Edelbrock: Made in USA, Vic Sr. continued to design and perfect intakes right up until he became severely weakened by cancer in 1962. He cleverly designed a six-carb ram-type manifold for the 392-ci Chrysler Hemi intended for boat racing. It was capable of pulling 435 hp all day long when run with the properly matched blueprinted pistons and an Isky ground cam. Other manifold setups at the time were pulling 400 hp and blowing up engines left and right.
By 1959, Edelbrock was one of the largest manufacturers of performance speed equipment in the United States. The company had expanded to where it was producing something for almost everyone. You could get a six-carb manifold package for all the big players such as Pontiac, Buick, Edsel, Oldsmobile, Chevy, Ford, Cadillac, and even Chrysler. Then there were the other hot setups such as three deuces, and dual quads for overhead V-8s. If you were a flathead guy, Edelbrock carried the full line of Mercury and Ford packages needed to make your engine compete with the best of them.
As Edelbrock continued to expand in the sixties they researched and developed manifolds and engine parts for every type of racing application and even blowers. Its varied customers ranged from speed boat racers, to midget racers, to Bonneville land-speed record holders, to muscle car enthusiasts, to drag racers, to Trans Am racing series competitors. Edelbrock also pioneered emissions-legal performance parts in the seventies.
Racing is in the Blood
“When I was a younger man, my dad [Vic Sr.] did not want me racing; he knew there was always a certain amount of risk involved. He didn’t want me out there breaking my neck. I’ve made up for that over the past few decades. I’ve raced everything and anything from speed boats to off-road to vintage race cars.” Vic Jr. and family currently race everything from the famous 614 split window ’62 Corvette to the Smokey Yunick Trans–Am–prepped ’68 Camaro. “The different suspension characteristics of each car makes for a hair-raising experience at speed on the race course.”
We reached Vic after a long day of racing his Smokey Yunick–built ’68 Camaro and the ’69 Mustang Boss 302 Trans-Am originally driven by George Follmer. He was at a track in Canada and you could hear in his voice that his adrenaline levels must have been still reeling. It may be one thing to test engines on a bench but Vic Jr. also puts Edelbrock performance parts to the ultimate test on the track.
Whether you’re from the East or the West it would be impossible to discuss hot rods past or present without mentioning the name Edelbrock. The Edelbrock company has supplied the demand for every element of America’s hot rodding and racing heritage. Edelbrock speed parts have adorned America’s legendary engines from the flathead to the nailhead and even to the Hemi. The Edelbrocks have been fulfilling every racers dream of speed and horsepower in polished finned aluminum since the early days of competition. Nothing performs better or looks as good as an Edelbrock-equipped engine. From start to finish, the major components are made “in house” right here in our own backyard.
The next time you go shopping for speed equipment; don’t waste your money on some knock-off piece of junk made in some third-world country. Vic Jr. cares enough to keep production here and so should you.
The Edelbrock roadster continually set speed records at the dry lakes before and after World War II. One of the main reasons was the success of Vic Edelbrock’s newly designed flathead manifold. Here is a great photograph of Vic Sr. passing through the timing light at speed. (Photo Courtesy Edelbrock)