Cliff Ruggles' 455 Ventura


Cliff Ruggles has been building and racing cars since the mid '70s. He purchased his 1973 Ventura in the mid '80s and at the time it was powered by a low compression 400 with 6x-8 heads.

That engine propelled the car into the low 14s. The best et was 13.78 @101 mph at Richmond Raceway in Virginia. A few years later, Cliff installed a 428, lower gears and a better converter but the car was plaqued with traction problems. (Car at left with new 2002 paint job.)

  Last year, Cliff decided it was time to for more power and consulted others including enthusiast, Jim Hand. Following his own experiences and much of Jim's advice, Cliff set out to build a true "daily driver," one that would require only pump gas (absolutely no additives).

Cliff's engine project was complete for the 2001 spring "test and tune" season . However, he soon discovered that without traction the car was unable to make a strong pass. At launch the Ventura would get out of shape and not run straight. Later, at Norwalk Raceway (OH), running BFG Drag Radials (60' times between 1.92 and 1.97 seconds) using a "roll out" start, the Ventura turned an e.t. of 12.70 @ 110 mph. Switching to Hoosier Quick Time Pro tires, traction was somewhat better. At Quaker City Raceway (PA), the car logged a 12.50 second run @ 110 mph. Cliff intends to solve the traction problem in 2002 so watch for the update.


Technical Data
Engine Block: 1973 Pontiac 455 with 2 bolt mains
Bore & Stroke: 4.18" x 4.21"; bored .060" over
Heads: 6x-4 castings (1977), milled to to 88 ccs, mild porting, bronze valve guides, exhaust crossover filled by Kauffman Racing Equipment (KRE)
Deck Height: + or - .0002"
Valve Springs: Wolverine VS 1524, 130 lbs @1.60", 330 lbs at 1.060" (springs set at 1.65")
Valves: SI one piece SS swirl polished with undercut stem, 2.11/ 1.77, stock length
Rocker Arms: Harland Sharp 1.65 roller rockers
Retainers: Stock
Keepers: Stock
Valve Seals: Fel-pro positive seals, intake and exhaust
Lifters: Speed-Pro HT951-R (limited travel)
Push Rods: Comp Cams chromemoly, stock length
Crankshaft: Stock "N" crankshaft, balanced, hand polished, hand drilled and all oil holes chamfered
Rods: Crower Sportsman 4340 forged steel
Rod Bolts: Crower
Pistons: TRW forged, .060 over
Rings: Speed-Pro plasma moly rings, file fitted
Bearings: Clevite 77main and rod bearings, standard on both
Timing Gear /Chain: 9 key way billet from KRE
Gaskets: Fel-Pro
Camshaft: Crower 60919 (improved RA IV), 231/240 @ .050", .470" lift on both lobes, 109/117, intake center line 109.5 degrees
Intake: Holley Street Dominator, port matched, mild blending under carb
Carburetion: 1978 Pontiac Q-jet, 800 cfm
Fuel pump: Holley electric (7 psi) pump mounted at fuel tank, Holley regulator on inner fender set at 4 psi
Exhaust: Hooker d-port 2" primaries, 3.5" collectors running through 3" Flowmaster mufflers out 2.5" Dynomax mandrel bent pipes
Ignition: 1975 Pontiac HEI, set at 11 degrees intial, 30 degrees total plus 12 degress of vacuum
Oil Pump: Federal Mogul 113-R with Melling drive shaft
Transmission: 1971 TH400, 34 element sprag, 5 forward frictions, 7 direct, Trans Go shift kit; 13" Continental replaced with 10" unit
Rear end/ suspension: Stock 8.5" posi unit with 3.42 gears
Cooling System:  Stock 3-row Modine replacement radiator, stock 7 blade clutch fan, stock water pump with iron impeller 
Tires: Front: 225/70-15" on stock rims; Rear: 11.5 x 27 x 15 Hoosier Quick Time Pro's in the rear on stock rims 
Vehicle Weight: 3550 pounds (estimated) with driver

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