• Feb 11, 2012
Racing is racing. Whether it's pounding the quarter mile into submission or kicking it sideways around a circle track, going fender to fender or against the clock is the same kind of rush no matter the flavor. As you well know, some of the biggest names in hot rodding tried their hand at what would eventually become the Baja 1000 in the '60s. Don Prudhomme, Jim Garner and Steve McQueen all headed to the sands of Mexico to bash around in massive muscle cars between 1967 and 1972.

Needless to say, few of those racers are around today. Ron Johnson of Tacoma, Washington found what was left of Jim Garner's 1970 "Grabber Olds" 442 back in 2008 and began the laborious process of stitching the vehicle back together. Miraculously, he was able to find the original aluminum-block 410 V8 and even the vehicle's hood, which was removed before the car went bumper-over-tea-kettle in an accident that saw the car roll eight times.

Johnson kept the vehicle as close to original as possible, with a few concessions for modern race requirements. The original rear end was scrap by the time he got his hands on the car, so a replacement 12-bolt was sourced and installed with a Moser spool and Yukon 4.11 gears. After reworking the original V8 with all new internals, the engine is good for 508 horseopwer. A TH400 was purpose-built for the application.

Rod Hall has raced the Grabber Olds in a few vintage series with mixed success. You can check out more photos over at the HotRod.com or read the full feature in the March issue of Hot Rod magazine.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      KaiserWilhelm
      • 2 Years Ago
      This might be the best thing ever posted on this blog.
      Mr. ROBoto
      • 2 Years Ago
      Forget the Rally Fighter, give me this!
      Basil Exposition
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good God that's cool.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      dukeisduke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Like Pontiac, Olsdmobile had only one "block" (no small blocks or big blocks, like Chevy) that went all the way from the 330 to the 455, depending on the bore and stroke. I remember these Olds Baja 442s - just about the most improbable thing ever to run Baja.
        Toneron
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dukeisduke
        Sorry ur wrong - oldsmobile big blocks had a taller deck resulting in a wider intake manifold.
        Newton48
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dukeisduke
        They had small and big blocks along with the other designs, over the years. Have you ever seen a 350 and a 455 side by side before? . Where do you get this horrible information at? and two, why would you post something so utterly wrong? I thought kids only passed this crazy rumor around....
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Trent
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nice work Autoblog and this car kicks *SS!
      Luis Antonio
      • 2 Years Ago
      King shocks on a 70's racer? must be a NORRA participant. Being from Ensenada I'm always happy to see posts like these :D
      Toneron
      • 2 Years Ago
      "410 aluminum block"? Oldsmobile small block (note the oil filler tube)? Never heard of such a thing. Are you sure?
      Toneron
      • 2 Years Ago
      Something is fishy. Found an article that says it was powered by an "experimental Oldsmobile 455-cid aluminum block" originally from a car called "Banshee". Doubtful but OK. Too bad the engine pictured here is a small block. Someone is spreading the BS. http://www.442.com/articles/banshee.html
      Toneron
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oldsmobile big blocks had a taller deck resulting in a wider intake manifold. This manifold is too narrow
        Mr Clickerson
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Toneron
        That's a pretty damn wide intake. Wider than a big block Chevy, if that's what you're suggesting.
          Toneron
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mr Clickerson
          http://www.rowand.net/Shop/Engines/Oldsmobile455/Oldsmobile455_04.jpg
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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