NASCAR Legend Leonard Wood Made a 1/2 Scale Ford 427 By Hand

Fred Smith
·2 min read
Photo credit: Wood Brothers Racing / Twitter
Photo credit: Wood Brothers Racing / Twitter

Leonard Wood, the NASCAR Hall of Fame engine builder who also happens to still co-own the Wood Brothers Racing team that has competed in the top-level Cup Series since 1953, had some free time on his hands last year. He was looking for a hobby project, and, when you are a master engine builder, a scale model of the exterior of a car is not quite enough. So he settled on building a 1/2 scale model of a 1967 Ford 427, the Galaxie-derived engine that powered the 1967 Ford GT40 Mk. IV to a win at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans, from solid aluminum. By hand.

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The Wood Brothers Twitter account, run by former NASCAR Truck Series race winner and lifelong Leonard Wood grand-nephew Jon Wood, chronicled the whole process. The project began with a single, solid block of aluminum, and a plan: if a component could be made by hand, it would be.

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The elder Wood did all of his machining by hand. Despite owning a world-class racing team and having instant access to both a full stable of racing engineers and a wide collection of modern machining tools, he refused to use a CNC machine, and even hand made some of his own tools from components he had lying around to keep to that spirit.

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The massive headers, one of the most striking parts of any vintage racing engine, were shaped by hand. Wood worked only from a printed photo of the original car, with no 3-D model or diagram as a guide.

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The end result is stunning. Wood sent the engine to The Henry Ford, where it will be displayed in the same collection as the specific 1967 Ford GT40 Mk. IV that led Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt to the single most iconic endurance racing win in American history.

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