Hendrickson-Osterstock 326 for NHRA E/MP Drag Racing becomes H-O Racing Specialties, the partnership.
In late 1972, before the days of H-O Racing Specialties, Inc. the first race car that Kern Osterstock and I built was my 1965 GTO. I took it off the street and we converted it to a Tempest because of the much lighter grille. We were trying to decide which NHRA class to build to when we had a conversation with Bruce Brayton (old time Pontiac racer & former employee of Mickey Thompson). He suggested that we look at the 1956 316. It had good bore/stroke, rod/stroke and strong internals, especially if we got one from a GMC truck. Best of all was that the Ram Air IV heads would bolt on with minor block mods (oil feed holes to the head plugged). However, it wouldn't bolt into 65 GTO, the current model bell housing was a different pattern, current model starter didn't fit, but heck, these were only minor and conquerable issues.
We found two 1956 316s in the local wrecking yards, both from GMCs. We had the best one bored out 0.060. This resulted in almost the same bore/stroke as a 327 Chevy, but yielded 326 CID. Of course this bore/stroke was no where near the production Pontiac 326 grocery getter engine, but the confusion and obfuscation was intentional.
The only major engineering problem was that no one produced a 2x4 tunnel ram intake manifold for Pontiacs in those days. Sure, there were a few semi-tunnels made by Pontiac for the 421SD, but these were like hen's teeth even back then. So like any resourceful drag racers with access to a full tool & die machine shop like Kern's, we decided to build our own manifold.
We cut up a brand new Edelbrock TR for a SB Chevy, leaving the adjacent paired runners attached. We had to correct for all the angle differences and cylinder offset side-to-side (Chevy is opposite Pontiac), etc. Since the Mouse motor is narrower than the Pontiac, we made special cylinder head mounting flanges which allowed for the correction of the paired intake port minor misalignment. We used a bolt-on Offenhouser plenum. Here's the initial version:
Later, we built a custom plenum that was permanently attached. The Holley carbs were canted slightly for better throttle bore alignment with the intake runner entrys. Kern figured out throttle linkage for it. Here's the race ready version (side and top views):
The drag race 326 had an Isky cam & valvetrain. Kern made a custom stud girdle for it. The bottom end was stock crank, 421SD con rods and Arias domed pistons. The red line was about 9000rpm.
We fitted the Tempest with a 1958 Pontiac rear end with 6.14 gears. The rear suspension was of my own design, a floating asymmetrical torque arm with boxed lower control arms. We ran reasonably successfully it at the local strips, primarily the old Lions Dragstrip which was only a couple miles away from Kern's shop in Carson. We named the car "The Renaisance", which is French for "to be born again." The front fender said "Pure 326 Pontiac" and the rear fender said "H-O Racing Specialties" All letters were in gold script. Here's a shot of the front fender:
One day at Kern's shop when we had the 326 engine out and apart, a friend who worked at Edelbrock's balance shop dropped by. He saw the custom tunnel ram intake manifold sitting on a bench. He got real excited and asked if he could take it to work and show it to the owner, Vic Edelbrock. We said sure. When Vic saw it, he apparently was very impressed, both with the concept and the execution. He called Jim McFarland who was the editor of Popular Hot Rodding at that time and told Jim that he should send a writer down to check out these "Pontiac guys", which he did.
A 6 page article and a headline on the cover appeared in the October 1973 issue of POPULAR HOT RODDING (1st page shown):
And, as they say, the rest is history.