Kenny Falk is an endodontist – a dentist who specializes in the care of tooth pulp and the tissues surrounding the root of a tooth. A common procedure is root canal.
Clint Falk is a periodontist – a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of gums. One surgical procedure would be a dental implant.
“He works with gums. I work with roots,” Kenny explained. He’s the older brother at 37. Clint is four years his junior.
Kenny owns a black 1969 ½ Plymouth 440 Six Pack “lift-off” hood Road Runner with automatic and a black taxi cab interior with bench seats.
Clint owns a white 1969 ½ Plymouth 440 Six Pack “lift-off” hood Road Runner with 4-speed and deluxe blue bucket seats.
According to Clint, “Supposedly, Plymouth only made two white with blue interior M-codes. Mine is the only white with buckets 4-speed car.”
“A12” is the catch phrase for the Six Pack 440 Road Runners (and Super Bees of the same half model year.) M is the engine code in the VIN. There is a registry to document the Six Pack lift off hood cars. This is the “A12 Registry.” That’s how special and popular, rare and unusual they are.
Being this popular can relegate certain older cars to the show circuit. I caught up with Kenny and his brother Clint at the Mopars at the Strip event this past March in Las Vegas. I followed the pair to the starting line at the drag strip. On the way, I diverted through the show car field and chatted with a few Mopar collectors. I asked them if they had seen the two lift-off hood 1969 ½ Road Runner coupes.
“What color are they?”
“One is black and one is white.”
“I haven’t seen those,” one man said in disbelief. He wondered how he could have missed them. The lift-off hood, Six Pack Road Runners are big attractions at Mopar and muscle car shows today.
“They’re in the pits. Kenny and Clint are racing the cars. They’re not showing them.”
“And they’re real M-codes?” the main said again as if the arid desert air had dried out my brain.
The man had to see this and made his way to the stands to watch them launch.
Most authentic M-codes are so valuable their owners are not apt to put them on the strip. Instead, they might do just as Kenny had done originally. He bought a basic B-body and installed a stock 440 Six Pack engine. He also installed the lift-off fiberglass hood, which Plymouth engineered for strip duty.
One person can easily detach the four hood lock pins and literally whisk the fiberglass engine bonnet off to the side, no sweat. The massive V8 becomes extremely easy to access and service. That’s just what the doctor ordered for drag racing.
Kenny and Clint are proponents of the lift-off hood, Six Pack, big block legacy. Kenny was there first with a lift off hood clone. It just wasn’t enough. He had to have the real thing.
He found the real thing a few years ago in Ohio. The seller had owned the car since the early 1980s, when he bought it from his father. The car was in the family for decades. They repainted the Plymouth in the early 1980s, and, except for some touch-up by his painter Erick Anderson, Kenny was able to avoid another repaint. The 25-plus-year-old paint job still looks good. The taxicab interior, incredibly, is original and intact. (Plymouth standard vinyl interiors were cheap and did not stand the test of time and minor abuse very well. This one must have had superior care through the years.)
Kenny pulled the original 440 Six Pack and installed the proven 440 Six Pack from his lift-off hood Road Runner clone. James Gipson of Gipson Machine in Amarillo, Texas put this big block together. Kenny wants to make sure James, who he says “has been building engines longer than I’ve been alive,” gets credit for a great job.
Clint proved just as gracious when he asked me to make sure his father-in-law, Donald Duffin, got credit for building the 440 in his white Road Runner. He’s just as adamant that Hughes Engines in Washington, Illinois gets credit for the head work on the 440.
Suffice it to say, if any of the engine builders or painters require root or gum work, they have willing and waiting specialists at their disposal.
Kenny and Clint partner with their father, Dennis Falk, in a shop in the downtown industrial section of Amarillo, Texas. Here, they do just about everything in terms of amateur restorations save for “paint and body work,” Kenny said.
They farm out that work, but seem to thoroughly enjoy their weekends off at the shop. It’s not uncommon for friends and people to “stop by the shop and help out.”
The shop houses quite a bit more than the pair of Six Packs seen here. Kenny has a head start on his brother, professionally speaking, and has been assembling quite a collection of American muscle. He mentioned, an AAR ’Cuda, a 1969 Shelby G.T. 500 convertible with 4-speed, some Turbo Buick Regals, a Turbo Trans Am, a 1997 Viper, a 1963 Max Wedge Dodge with 500 miles, another 1969 lift off hood RR, two 1969 428 Mach 1s, and a 1968 ½ CJ fastback. He has others.
Clint is building his own collection, too. He referenced “a 1971 ’Cuda 340 shaker billboard car and some old beaters like an R/T 440.”
Of course, Dennis is the ringleader and has the original collection of American muscle iron that got the boys addicted. “He’s the main culprit,” Clint said fondly of his father.
The first trip I watched the boys running down the 1320, the brothers traded cars. Clint said he wanted to try driving the other transmission to see what it was like. The brothers matched up on this run. Kenny tripped the lights first and ran a slightly faster time. Both were in the low 13-second range.
The sight of a pair of lift-off hood Road Runners blasting down the quarter mile, side by side, is a trip down memory lane. There’s no question about that. But what really makes their trips special is the sight of stock F70 x 15 bias ply, redline tires. Kenny and Clint bought the tires from Coker Tire Company.
I wondered why they were not running slicks or why they didn’t at least go to bigger and more modern tires. After all, tire technology has taken tremendous leaps in the last four decades since the Road Runner traveled the streets and hit the drag strip. For years, just about everybody has extolled the virtues of new tires and tossed away the old bias ply tires as “going up in smoke” on launch. Muscle car drag racers complain they could have had better ET’s if only they could have gotten the car to launch.
Clint said, “People keep asking us why we run our Road Runners with skinny tires. We just tell them that’s what we race, the Pure Stocks. That’s the way the cars came and that’s the way we want to race them. Guys can get good 60-foot times with them. With those tires you have to burn them up pretty good, but you can still get good ET’s – of course, not as good as a pair of slicks.”
Both Kenny and Clint launch their Road Runners at about 2500 rpm. The trick is more than heating the rubber. Kenny advised against getting too ambitious off the line and letting the tires lose traction.
Another important tip for great drag strip times is to set the Holley 3 x 2 carburetors to kick in with more flow after the car gains speed. Kenny said, “Holley makes a spring kit. Try different ones to get the combination that works best for each car.”
Of course, each car is unique, even though the engine might be the same 390-horse 440 Six Pack with the aluminum Edelbrock intake manifold and the three deuce Holleys.
Swapping out springs between runs at the drag strip is where the lift-off hood comes in so handy. The A12 Mopars are really some of the best factory drag cars ever put into the hands of the American public. Two of the best are in the hands of a pair of young dentists. There’s no telling what they’ll put their hands into next.