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Working With Smokey Yunick, Part 2

Some of the most visited pages on our site are those relating to Smokey Yunick. It seems everyone is interested in his Hot Vapor engine as well as the stories behind the man. He was a true inventor and built some controversial cars as well as some outstanding race cars. There are books and stories about Smokey but it is seldom that you get the opportunity to visit with someone who actually worked with Smokey. Today we continue with Part 2 of a short 3 part series from a guest Blogger, Andy Zabrodsky.

Some time spent with Smokey

Part 2

I have a real good memory and can tell you some Smokey stories and what I can regarding the Hot Vapor Cycle. Think about it; the engine used 3 stages to warm up the intake air.

If it didn’t have the Check Valve (turbo) unit it would just puff back and not work. The air entered the top of the pistons at 460 degrees F, so gasoline was a vapor. The turbo, by compressing, also raised the temperature and acted as a check valve because the entire intake system was at a higher pressure than the atmosphere.

His garage was like a mechanic’s dream museum. He had well over a hundred engine blocks from all of The Big Three Detroit Companies, with little tags, saying GM wants 25 more HP or Ford wants 15LB more torque.  After he would accomplish these feats on the already pumped up factory motors and put them on his dyno, he would call up the suits (executives) in Detroit, and tell them to send their engineers to come and take their notes and measurements. Detroit would respond by asking him to send the motor back to Detroit and his answer was always the same; that’s not what our deal was, I get you the horse power and you guys copy cat it for production.

I’m talking about an additional 25 HP on a 396 that was already producing like 400hp.  One day he showed me everything; his helicopter and his Volvo, both running on the Hot Vapor Cycle! My boss Frank Druzinski, nicest down to earth engineer I ever met, never saw what I saw. Smokey had a thing about engineers and executives; he called them all “suits”.

To Be Continued

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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