Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Readers Rides: 1972 VW rail with a Chevy Big Block engine

Drive your dragster to work lately? Birmingham, Alabama's Bryon Hall drove what he calls his 1972 Volkswagen rail to work recently. Hall, a City Action Partnership (CAP) patrolman, has to keep his vehicle registration and insurance papers handy whenever he takes his radical VW out for a spin. Law enforcement officer's eyes light up when they see the tube frame chassis mounted with a Big Block Chevy engine on the street. "They want to see if I have insurance on it," Hall says.


Don't call it a funny car
The 18-foot long VW resembles a top fuel dragster. Hall and his dad spent two months building the 'rat rod' rail job from start to finish. They started with a chromoly tube frame, flexible steel that has an excellent strength to weight ratio, and extended it by 6 feet. The VW's centerpiece is a 550 horsepower V8 Chevrolet engine. Hall shifts the gears of his winged ride with a 4-speed transmission. A 4.56 gear ratio 12-bolt rear end sits right under the seats of the VW. The powerful engine has lifted the front wheels a time or two but Hall says he does his racing at the track, not on the street.


Easy to park?
Hall says wheeling the VW rail into a parking spot is a snap. Parallel parking downtown, no problem. Hall has excellent visibility from the cab of the VW. The lack of body panels does have its drawbacks. If not careful, the driver can easily skin their elbow on the left rear tire while the VW is moving.


Future plans
Hall plans to add some type of doors to keep the wind down in cooler weather. He has been caught driving in the rain and was forced to pull over and wait it out. Plan on seeing Hall's VW at your local cruise-ins and car shows this year. "I'm going to put it in a lot of shows. I might even drive it to a car show in Montgomery," Hall said. When asked what his wife thought about his wild ride Hall smiled and said, "she upped my life insurance policy."


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