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1- THE FIRST YEARS...  |    2- THE REBUILT ONE new  |    3- TOP CHOPPED ANYONE? (Soon)  |   

I have to say that the purpose of these few pages devoted to the Schley brothers Lightning Bug series was not to write an exhaustive story coz I think all was already said. Read again Keith SEUME book if you want more info, as this Gasser history is very well documented in this book... No, what I wanted to do is an illustrated story with rare or unusual pictures of the Lightning Bug. So as usual, respect my work.

LIGHTNING BUG : The first years...

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Some facts...

Old pictures of the first Lightning Bug of the Schley brothers are not common... I have to admit it was hard for me to compile a cool looking section as well as interesting facts about one of the coolest looking Gasser of all times : the original I/Gas Lightning Bug.

Many enthusiasts will tell you that the very first Lightning Bug was the best looking one, although not the quickest... I have to agree with them, even if you will see that the future ones sure look the part too.

The car started life a 1953 oval window sedan and was unfortunately totalled at Bug-in 3 with Mark SCHLEY behind the wheel. The car was running at 100 mph when the front axle broke making the car roll up and over the center guard rail. Amazingly, and fortunately, Mark escaped only with a cut arm... Lucky when you consider the car being totally demolished... Lightning Bug.jpg

General Specs...

Let's now have a look at the car specifications. It has to be said that the car was just built on a budget. Want example? What 'bout a beer stein replacing the fuel tank...

Several EMPI fiberglass parts help to save weight : front hood and back decklids, the doors and the fenders... In the same order, the original dashboard was cut and all accessories were removed. Talk 'bout stripped out interior. Note also that most of the steel pan has been replaces with aluminium. Back seat was removed and aluminium paneling replace it, as well as original firewall.

The stock front end is now history as a tubular front axle and some small shock absorbers (who said original steering dampers...) were installed. Original steering box is used but is located above the axle. Porsche wheels are de rigueur and stock drums remains in place. Who need big brakes when the car is now only half the original weight... Lightning Bug.jpg

Picture on right actually shows a smiling Mark SCHLEY at the wheel. I LOVE this picture!!! I wonder what the steering wheel could be... Looks like a Speedwell, but I'm not sure... Note the lack of dashboard, the tachometer, the central pod with 2 extra gauges, and the single bucket seat. Note also Mark old school socket... *Laughing*

Powerplant Specs...

Now some words 'bout the engine combo, surely the most important part of the whole car... Displacement was at first an exotic 1790cc later to be replaced by an also exotic 1950cc... Crank was OKRASA, while cylinder were EMPI 88mm with MAHLE pistons. Cylinder heads were reworked with 39mm intake valves while exhausts ones remains stock size. EMPI camshaft is used along with reworked stock 1.1:1 rocker arm. Pushrod were reworked Corvair units... Of course, WEBER 48IDA (37mm venturis, F2 emulsion tubes, 150 air correction jets and 135 mains) on top of EMPI cast aluminium intake manifold supply fuel mixture. Clutch & pressure plate came from EMPI again, and stock transmission was replaced by a Porsche unit.
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Note the lack of all sheet metal and cooling device in true good old days tradition... Main purpose was to save weight of course, but it helps also pulling and reinstalling of the engines after races... Lightning Bug.jpg

Functional intake scoop is used to duct cold air into engine bay and into the hungry big Webers. I have to point that I especially like their 70's look, when the more fiberglass accessory, the better...

Infos compiled mainly from an old american dragster magazine...

Copyright © 2003 El Dub - Tous droits réservés.

E-mail : ldubois@calixo.net