The collector car hobby and hot rodding in general lost one of the true legends of the sport/hobby when Vic Edelbrock Jr. passed away peacefully June 9, from complications of a cold. He was 80-years-old.
Edelbrock Jr. took over as president and CEO of Edelbrock at the age of just 26 following the sudden passing of his father in 1962. He took the Edelbrock company from 10 employees in 1962 to hundreds of staff and team members today. Edelbrock Jr. and family went from a cash flow of $200,000 when his father passed to today’s hundreds of millions in revenue.
He also ushered in what is perhaps the most important decade of high performance part manufacturing in the 1960s where he co-opted with other companies, like Holley Carburetors and Chrysler Corporation as excellent examples of his “business-to-business” acumen.
To explain, Vic Edelbrock Jr., along with George Hurst and his Hurst 4-speed shifters, are still the only two aftermarket high performance brands to ever have their corporate names on Chrysler muscle cars that customers could order direct from their Dodge and Plymouth dealership.
Specifically, in 1969 the Plymouth Roadrunner and Dodge Super Bee tri-power “Six Packs” came out at mid-year with 440-inch engines with three two-barrel carburetors rated at a conservative 390 horsepower.
However, there were two distinct intake manifolds Chrysler used on those initial Six Pack Plymouths and Dodges; one the original Edelbrock aluminum intake and the second; a cast iron Chrysler produced model based on the Edelbrock design.
When asked about this during a not too long ago interview, Edelbrock Jr. said, “Bob Cahill from Chrysler product planning came to me with a print layout of the manifold (for the 440 Six Pack) they wanted and he asked me to make 1,500 aluminum intakes for the first Six Pack cars (that were built and sent to dealerships).”
Edelbrock Jr. even ordered an early run 69 1/2 Dodge Super Bee Six Pack, which he owned for 7 years until he sold it. But good fortune was on his side.
“The owner of my original Super Bee called me from Washington State and told me he had my car and that maybe I wanted to buy it back,” said Edelbrock Jr. “I didn’t believe him, and I told him so. So, I sent my rep up to look at it and sure enough, it was my car. So I bought it back and had it restored. Today, it is an absolutely knock down gorgeous, beautiful car with the original Edelbrock aluminum Six Pack intake, of course.”
Edelbrock Jr. then explained that in late 1969, Chrysler felt it was costing too much for his aluminum Edelbrock intake (MOPAR #P04529056), so they decided to build their own cast iron model, which Edelbrock felt was a big mistake.
Thus, those owners that have the original MOPAR 69½ Six Packs with the Edelbrock aluminum manifolds and the Chrysler part number from the factory are indeed the first of the 1,500 original Six Pack cars. Today, Edelbrock still offers the 440 Aluminum Six Pack intake part 2475.
As for the Holley Carb business co-op, Edelbrock built a special intake manifold to adapt to Holley’s new 950 CFM 3-Barrel, back in 1966-1967. The 950 carb was a huge vacuum secondary design with a large single rear butterfly (barrel) instead of a four barrel’s two rear butterfly openings. His manifold for Chrysler 440 big blocks was part number CH4B and I am proud to still have my 950 Holley 3-Barrel and the original Edelbrock intake manifold.
In summary, Edelbrock’s vast product line gave hot rodders just about every conceivable performance part they could ever hope for, starting with his Ford Flathead V8 “Slingshot Intake Manifold” he developed in 1938 for competitors at the dry lake salt flat speed runs. Today, Edelbrock offers carbs, injection units, superchargers, state of the art internals to complete engines and everything in between. It’s a good bet that if you have a performance car or hot rod, of any make or model, you have an Edelbrock part on it.
As for moving forward without a Vic Edelbrock Jr. around it will surely be tough. However, Edelbrock is in good hands today with excellent management and dedicated family (his daughters Christi and Camee have everything in order). But for those who looked forward to seeing Vic at shows or the historic sports car races, it will still be a difficult task. RIP Vic Edelbrock Jr. and thanks for all of your speed industry/hot rod/muscle car innovation.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at email@example.com.