Factory Experimental On The Street: A/fx Falcon

Back when the cliche “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” still held true, there existed OE-backed drag cars like this one – Bob Ream’s 1964 A/FX Ford Falcon.  The FX stood for Factory Experimental, a class which allowed manufacturers to fit the largest engine available and alter (sometimes drastically) the body of a production vehicle.  The letter A simply refers to the engine size; there were also B/FX and C/FX classes.

What we have before us is an example of a brief yet influential slice of American drag race history.  I say brief because this format was really only used in serious competition for a few years, and influential because these were the pre-cursors to Funny Cars.

Lucky for us, when Bob Ream was a boy he witnessed FX cars tearing up the track at Beeline Dragstrip and it left enough of an impression on him to build one of his own years later.  The way Bob explains it, tire technology had not come very far by the mid ’60’s, so racers got creative in their pursuit of traction.  First they lifted up the fronts of their cars, usually with a solid axle and parallel leaf springs, in an attempt to pre-load weight transfer for launch.  The next step is where things really got interesting…

…because it was the next modification that put the “Funny” in Funny Car.  Mr. Ream’s Falcon has had the rear axle relocated 11″ forward while the front axle has been shoved another 5.5″ towards the grille.  The goal of all this work was to achieve a 45/55 weight distribution, placing as much mass as possible over those spin-happy rear tires.  Funny looking, isn’t it?

To be honest I didn’t start to appreciate Altered Wheelbase (AWB) and Gasser builds until more recently:  I always thought everything looked better slammed.  But spending time around these beasts really makes you start to fall in love.

I walked past Bob’s Falcon every day for a week at SEMA, and each time I caught myself checking it out.  It just has this menacing aura that you can’t get from a slammed cruiser.

The level of craftsmanship doesn’t hurt either.  This thing is a full-blown show car disguised as a match racer.

Light and shadow reveal the stunning bodywork that took place at SS and AFX in New River, Arizona.  To get a car this straight is no easy feat after grafting all four wheelwells into new locations.

That’s right, there’s a shop that specializes in building cars specifically of the FX genre.

Of course it’s not just the layout of the car that makes it an A/FX, it must have the cubic inches and horsepower to necessitate these mods in the first place.  That’s where Bob comes in.

Mr. Ream runs a company called Imagine Injection, and those are his stacks feeding the healthy 427.  Starting with a Dart aluminum block, he stuffed in all kinds of serious moving parts to create this 99% aftermarket engine.  The only Ford parts left are the distributor clamp, water pump and timing cover.

These stacks are made exclusively for his kits and they are flawless.  No draw marks or shrinkage, just a perfectly formed bell for air to rush through.

He also has his own air valves machined and even had an extrusion tool made to produce Imagine Injection’s proprietary fuel rail.  These parts are anodized black on the Falcon so they blend in nicely.

Peeking inside we see a fusion of stock interior with race-specific mods.  The stock seats are there, but there’s a small pad built into the cage that serves as a helmet-stopper for hard launches.

The rear seat has been deleted to make room for the rear axle and tires.

From here you can see that most of the stock interior was retained, and items like the Simpson harnesses were ordered in black so they fit in.  The largest concession Bob made was in instrumentation, but if you asked him he would tell you it wasn’t a concession at all.

A Fast XFI touch screen offers all the data you could desire, and Bob cheerily scrolled through all the menus showing me everything he could monitor.  I suppose when you design your own fuel injection system you care a lot more about all the signals coming from the Fast XFI 2.0 ECU too.

The classic Hurst shifter (with line-lock riding piggyback) controls a not-so-classic T56 six-speed manual transmission.

Before we lay on our backs and look underneath take a minute to admire the bodywork from this angle.  The door to rocker panel gap is perfect, and if you inspected most show cars from here the rockers would never come up this clean.  This is a difficult area of the car to prep and paint, yet even the pinch welds are perfect. Anyway, now we can look underneath and notice that Bob has the option to either utilize the full Arrow Lane stainless exhaust or trigger the electric cutouts and cause a ruckus.  SS and AFX also welded in subframe connectors to keep the unibody from twisting up.

Moving to the front we find a classic drag race setup.  A dropped tube axle is suspended by leaf springs, with shims to dial in the desired 5 degrees of caster.  But notice the crossdrilled Baer brakes juxtaposed with the super-narrow 4.5″ wheels and traditional Firestone bias plys.  The mixture of new and old tech is quite well done.

The Ford 9″ rear axle has a 15×10″ wheel with a Firestone pie-crust slick stuck on either end.  Bob could have gone with a modern tire that would hook better, but why?  Clearly he knew where he could tastefully make improvements and where to leave the traditional spec equipment as it should be.

After a few short years of tracking FX cars, drag racers moved on to the next craze – the flopper-bodied funny car.  If you think about this mid-’60s time period you also realize that this was just before pony cars started to hit the scene, relegating FX cars to history in short order.  The guys that still had AWB cars started using them as wheelstanders for demonstration runs after that, shifting their usefulness from race cars to show cars.

Considering what came of FX cars I find it fitting that Bob Ream built this car the way he did.  He can’t tell you dyno numbers or a 1/4 mile time because those things aren’t really as important to him as having a bitchin’ car that’s really well built.  It’s a faithful tribute to the cars that revved him up as a kid, but he wasn’t afraid to stray from the traditionalist’s rulebook  for the sake of better performance.  This is the mark of someone who truly knows what he is going after when building a car, and Bob pulled it off.

Bob Ream’s 1964 A/FX Ford Falcon

Engine: Ford 427, Dart aluminum block, 10.2:1 compression, machining and porting performed by the owner, Comp Cams camshaft, cam gears, lifters and push rods, Racing Head Services valves, valve springs and retainers,  ARP headstuds, Icon 4.125 dished pistons, Total Seal rings, Lunati 6.2″ rods, Lunati 4.0″ stroke crankshaft, March pulleys, Aeromotive Fuel pump, Fuelab fuel pressure regulator and filter, Standard Motor Products injectors, custom threaded by Imagine Injection, Milodon oil pan, Moroso spark plug wires, Accel coil, MSD 6A ignition, Optima battery

Intake: Imagine Injection 50.8mm billet air valves, stacks and fuel rails, Blue Thunder Auto intake manifold match ported

Exhaust: Arrow Lane exhaust and headers, all stainless

Engine Management: FAST XFI 2.0 with Touch Screen display and data-logger

Driveline: Tremec Magnum T-56 six speed, Ford 9″ rear axle, 4.10 ratio, Strange axles, Modern Driveline clutch, flywheel and shifter

Chassis: SS and AFX roll cage and subframe connectors, front straight axle relocated 54.5″ forward, rear axle relocated 11″ forward, Competition Engineering front shocks, Calvert rear shocks, Speedway Motors front leaf springs, Mopar Super Stock rear leaf springs,

Brakes: Baer disk, Wilwood master cylinder

Wheels and Tires: Real Rodding 15″ x 4.5″ and 15″ x 10″, Firestone 6.70 x 15 and Firestone Dragster 10 x 15

Exterior: Pearl orange paint, relocated wheel wells

Interior: Simpson harnesses, Hurst shifter, FAST touch screen instrument panel

Vehicle Weight: 2800 lbs, 45/55 split

Owner thanks: Greg Fernald at SS and AFX, Ryan Linden at Arrow Lane, Bruce at Modern Driveline

-Keith

Words by Keith Charvonia

Photos by  Sean Klingelhoefer

More March 2013 USA themed stories on Speedhunters


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41 comments
apex_DNA
apex_DNA

Love these articles...so much history.

EricSeanDelaney
EricSeanDelaney

AWB cars are some of, if not my favorite versions of custom cars. I love the totally weird profile and and high stance is awesome.

Ross Z
Ross Z

Really nice Job Bob... well done, enjoy it!  Ross

64 Wagon
64 Wagon

Wonderful photos & article, absolutely awsome build but the owner should be slapped in the head for putting a digital dash in that car, it absolutely does not belong there,  and ruins the period vibe of the car, hide it in the glovebox if you need to have it in there!

WanGan
WanGan

this is a badass car... I like the manual transmission...

Gerben aka Suburuuh
Gerben aka Suburuuh

First wallpaper picture ...... Drool! As an European, these kind of cars are not common at all here across the sea. So much appreciation for this build, and again more automotive knowledge for me (and others) on USA car history. Thank you both, Bob and Sean.

RdS2
RdS2

absolutely awesome car, and top photography as usual.

..Now it just needs some matching orange window-film, and a large name down the side! 

 

 

SS and AFX
SS and AFX

Hi guys. I wanted to thank you for the OUTSTANDING work you did covering Bob's AWB Falcon. It is always gratifying to receive such a great response. I have always been in love with the factory race cars from the 60's, and although my loyalties are with Chrysler, I am all over anything that is AWB, factory experimental. I saw the first outing of the Chrysler AWB's at Beeline Dragway Winternationals in 1965, a day that changed me forever. These cars were replaced by the Funny Car class in 1967, but I will NEVER forget those 2 yrs. The performance of these cars progressed so quickly, it was almost impossible to keep up. I have known Bob for decades. He is one of the finest in his field, sort of a modern day Smokey Yunick. Anyway, thanks again. The photography really turned a hack job into a visual work of art. Keep up the great work. Greg Fernald, owner SS&AFX.

Bob Dunn
Bob Dunn

Bob and Bev, you two are real professionals in everything you do.  Joy and I couldn't be more proud to know you for all the years and neighbors that we have been.  The red light blinker (Buster) is always excited to see your garage door up with lights on.  You are both great and we all love what you do.  Very special car and Greg is incredible too.  My hat off to everyone involved in the build.  Joy Bob and Buster Dunn

hanablemoore
hanablemoore

Sean this was a dope ass article. This is a beautiful car. This was at SEMA? I need to find a way to get in or something because i appreciate all cars and this is a hell if a build and i imagine there where more like it. maybe not to the same standard but close. Also i wonder the guys from that era of racing, do they like builds like these as much as a youngster like myself do?

ericbauer
ericbauer

 @sean klingelhoefer ... hey sean, so is this an original A/FX factory car, or a modern look-alike? I thought it was at first when I started reading the article, but now I'm not so sure... please confirm

Tex Guthrie
Tex Guthrie

Great-lookin' ride (and fixins); outstanding phototography !

 

Tex

FunctionFirst
FunctionFirst

Sean... Man your photos...

 

So f**cking good!

chrischabre
chrischabre

My father is a historian of sorts on the 60s era Ford and Mercury drag cars, We both own 65 Comets, he also has a 65 falcon and a few other cars. His is powered by a center oiler 427, mine a big compression 289, Hopefully this year I will be tearing mine down again and starting fresh. Anyways, its cool to see a car of this "era" on here. I hope he puts it through its paces once hes done showing it off

EdThomson
EdThomson

As only one of the two guys, Greg and I, i really thanks you guys for the reception! it was an odd build for as were hard core mopar guys, but luckily the boss had an AWB 1965 Plymouth Post and I am currently building a AWB 1965 Plymouth HDT, so we know the ways of moving stuff around! alot of work when into getting everything perfect before we started the body work for minimal filler work. You guys are more than welcome to check out the websites.

 

www.ssandafx.com

 

www.imagineinjection.com

 

Again Thank You Guys and Gals!

Ed

ComJive
ComJive

i guess the internet is changing, because once again i expected a bunch of false experts to talk about everything they think is wrong here, and once again none of them have appeared

SimonRaymondWatling
SimonRaymondWatling

breathtaking photos.. the timing and location are amazing!.. solid!

 

RyanKuan
RyanKuan

The word "clean is often over used, but this is CLEAN. The shot of the rockers and pinch weld blew me away just as much as everything else about this build

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer moderator

Completely mental build, I was shocked when he drove it to the shoot, I thought for sure this was a trailer queen. 

Fearedisx
Fearedisx

THAT STANCE IS HELLALUSH YO. JDM ALL DAY.

Haha in all seriousness, cool build. Nice write up and beautiful pictures!

KeithCharvonia
KeithCharvonia

 @hanablemoore I would speculate that the guys from that generation appreciate them even more than the younger crowd because they saw them first-hand.  Like I said in the article, I couldn't appreciate the nose-bleed stance until I spent some time around this sort of cars.  They definitely grow on you.

KeithCharvonia
KeithCharvonia

 @EdThomson Ed, thanks for taking the time to comment, and fantastic work on the Falcon.  I think a visit to SS and AFX is in order now!

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer moderator

 @ComJive Every time you think you have the Internet pegged you get proven wrong. It's an ever changing landscape... either that or all the trolls have been banned lol. 

DanielRamirez1
DanielRamirez1

 @Dekro I bet he knows where all the speed bumps are in his city :///

 

- Amazing color and finish and build... and pretty much everything else lol :)

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer moderator

 @KeithCharvonia  @hanablemoore In addition to what Keith has said, you have to remember that the period in which these cars actually existed was virtually a blink of an eye in the automotive spectrum (as Greg mentioned they were only run for two years!) so I would imagine there is a very narrow group of enthusiasts that are interested in these types of cars, but those who are like Greg and Bob, are die-hards. 

EdThomson
EdThomson

 @KeithCharvonia  hey no problem! thank you for the awesome write up, though I think it was after the shoot that it won "Builders Choice" at Goodguys! as for a tour go on the site or call 623-465-7277 and talk to the boss Greg Fernald. we have a couple SS Hemi Darts in the shop right now and restoring a M code 440 1969 cuda. you may like the Landy Dart enough to want to do a shoot on it :)!

ComJive
ComJive

 @sean klingelhoefer it is a nice car though. almost overshadowed by your excellent photography. the quality of speedhunters photographers continues to grow, and as a photography enthusiast it's almost as good as some of the cars you feature

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer moderator

 @hanablemoore  @KeithCharvonia I think this is a rare circumstance since the car was built for two reasons: 1 - to build a rad car in the A/FX style and 2 - to be used as a promotional tool for Bob's Imagine Injection business. Most of the modifications that are more modern touches have been done in order to promote Imagine, aside from the disc brakes. I would imagine that typically these cars are built more original, but since this car serves multiple purposes there was a fine balance between tradition and technology, but I think it's all for the best. 

hanablemoore
hanablemoore

 @sean klingelhoefer  @KeithCharvonia true. but it seems the smaller the niche it seem the more they want things to stay as original as possible. like how everyone throws a holy fit because a s13 or ft86 gets a v8 instead of a sr20 or whatever for drifting because thats not what they used when drifting started. There were a few modern touches to this car that i personally liked but it made me wonder did the original era guys dislike it because of the newer parts.

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer moderator

 @ComJive That's extremely kind of you to say, but in all fairness the car made my job quite easy. Nevertheless, I appreciate the compliment! 


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