Hemi Cayne Page 1 7/5/09 to 7/16/09
The history of this car is long. I first saw it in August 2005 in
Porterville when I was buying a 348 for my 58 Impala. The owner, Steve
Riddle, had a LOT of 348/409 parts and cars. The short story is that he
had THIS car for sale at the time, but over an 18 month period, Riddle
was unreachable, and I could not close the deal, notwithstanding we
actually agreed on the price, a date to pick it up, and the parts
At about 2+ years (mid-2007), his son put the car on ebay. I mistakenly
thought all was the same, but it was not. The engine and several drive
train components were no longer included, and the car had suffered some
rust damage in the interim.
I ended up buying it sight unseen on 10/19/07, and realized I had bitten
off a bit much at the time. By the end of calendar 2007, I had spent
just under $15,000 on the project. I bought a second car, a roller, just
for parts in January 2008. The #2 car is actually in about the same
shape, except this #1 car had already had the frame sandblasted and
painted. I proceeded to buy an additional $8000 of boxed parts for all
the trim, script, sills, handles, seats, glass, etc. Total investment in
the two cars is about $31,000 to date, including the Hemi and 727 trans
The 409 motor at this point lacks a valve train and clutch. Otherwise,
the drive train as a 409 is complete and period correct. The 409 block
is a 65 X-block (high nickel). All else is correct 62 #, save the trans
which is an M-20.
I have reached a critical point of too many parts and projects, so I
have decided to homologate. That is, put dissimilar parts together to
make a new whole. As I have TWO Biscaynes, I figured I'd put the 409
package in the #2 car. The 409 motor is not yet complete, lacking a
valve train and the pistons have yet to be set in the block.
just got a 426 Hemi motor and trans which is similar to what I have in
my own Hemi Polara. I've decided a HEMI-Cayne would be more intriguing.
I have a spare Vortech YSI blower I am not using on the 3-engined car,
so I'm hoping to incorporate that as well. A friend, Randy, is currently
putting a 392 injected Hemi in his 55 Chevy, so I have a pal to whom to
go for questions. Last month I rolled the #1 car in, cleaned it out, put
in the stock-piled seats, cut the trans tunnel out, and slid the
426/727combo in. This is a complete push button combo WITH the
The fit is quite good, tucked tight against the
firewall (leaving about ½" behind the right side valve cover). The left
valve cover is hard on the steering column, so that must be changed. I
have a spare brand new 30" tilt Ididit chrome column here intended for
the KiloKub 3-engined car, and I'll use that.
I have a NEW gas tank, NEW trunk pan, xlnt chrome bumpers, and a LARGE
inventory of cherry parts ready to go on the car. The main hang-up to
ANY cosmetic progress (and the consequent increase in appeal) was
getting the bodywork done before doing any of the major stuff. As I have
had ZERO funds for a while, I have instead decided to tackle the
mechanical end now. I'll put the trunk pan in myself, change out the
I have a friend, Ken, with an employee who will do the rust and paint
prep repairs way reasonably, and once I score a little dough, Cesar will
take the car and do his magic. This should mightily transform the look
of the project, making it straight, rust-free, primed, nice seats,
package tray, new chrome column, and with a HEMI sitting in there.
I completed the trans crossmember yesterday, a fairly neato design
if I may say so myself.
three wood spacers are for position only. They will be replaced by some
industrial strength rubber.
My intent is to get this car to the point of someone HAVING to have it,
and taking it on to finish themselves.
I suppose a Ford 9" would work, or possibly a stronger center section
and axles with the existing rear. But these are questions for Randy.
I have spent the last few weeks cleaning out the garage, reorganizing,
and sanitizing the chassis, painting the fender wells and frame, and
eliminating unneeded brackets, etc. Randy came by today to see the car,
having NO idea I had gone the Hemi route, let alone put anything in the
car. He was stunned. He made some cogent observations. I noted that I
intended to use my Ididit column, notwithstanding his feelings. I could
probably get away with some fudging to use the existing.
Randy feels I can get a plenty good center section and axles and use the
existing rear end housing, so that helps there.
He and I went to Vortech to look over some big-block Mopar installs, two
of them in fact. The first thing I found out is that my blower is not
usable, unless I turn it around, moving it about 6" forward, as it is a
reverse rotation unit for the LS-1 and/or Ford motors.
So that pretty much squashes the blower idea unless I can get a KILLER
deal from Vortech on a complete package AND sell of my unit. I am WAY
hurting for dough, so this may not happen now.
I pulled the steering column out today. This was a fairly major hassle.
I double-taped the chrome Ididit column and wired it in for a trial fit.
It all looks good to me.
The steering rods and u-joints look now to have to
go OVER the left front A-arm.
I think this is a doable thing.
The new master cylinder and booster (I am going to put in power brakes)
can go substantially to the driver’s left in place of the present
firewall electrical/fuse box location as the picture below shows. The
cable is the speedometer cable, and can be relocated. I can also raise
the front end of the column if need be. It is just sitting conveniently
in the opening for now.
It appears that I can extend the brake pedal over to the left up high on
the arm with some simple welding, and have it push the new master from
its existing location. I cut off the clutch pedal arm and reused the
pivot pin that held both brake and clutch pedals. In retrospect I might
have just left the clutch pedal in place and used it for the brake.
But no matter,
it looks quite doable. I’ll eventually make some cover panels for the
revised openings in the firewall, of course.
I got the push-button control for the trans off its
control, and it appears I have JUST enough length on the two cables to
make a left hand control mounting position.
The actual push button control can fit nicely at
the left edge of the dash if I remove about 4” wide by a foot high of
filler panel and some bracketing behind.
There may be a little metal work required to smooth
the control into the area. This is going to look VERY cool having a
push-button control in a Chevy!
I removed the old choke control (won’t be needed,
and is easily remountable), and I’m looking to clean up the wiring on
the motor and get some idea of the actual electrical interface to the
Randy sent me an ebay sale on a rear sump chrome
pan, and I have written the seller with a question. If good, I’ll buy it
The next thing is to get some front mounts
happening. Once bolted in, I’ll address the headers. Randy feels some
block huggers will work. It appears iffy on the driver’s side. This may
call for some Papa Jay work there. At this point, I am delighted with
the progress over a couple of months of hard work. Now it’s really about
the dough to move it further along.