It’s funny how fickle racing tends to be. One day you’re Ed Donovan, a visionary who created the first true aftermarket drag racing engine in the early 1970s. Up until Donovan came out with his revolutionary 417 (based on the architecture of the 392 Chrysler Hemi) drag racers at all levels were working with legitimate factory parts in order to go fast. They were going faster with them than anyone expected possible and with this development, the sport found another gear.
Designed to eliminate all the inherent weaknesses in design and stumbles in maintenance that a factory engine provides, the Donovan 417 was a breath of mechanical life into a sport that was killing the world’s supply of Chrysler hemi engines faster than anyone could keep track of. And then things change. Keith Black came out with his version, which was based on the 426 hemi design. While the Donovan had its place in drag racing for years, it was eventually displaced. The 417 was and still is a factor in nostalgia racing and other forms of competition, though. It is just interesting how something that one year is so innovative ends up trickling down the ranks.
What you see for sale here is amazing. Three blocks (one with serial #005!), multiple sets of heads, valve train parts, sleeves, camshafts, pistons, rods, pushrods, headers, head gaskets, oil pans, oil pumps, and the list just goes on and on and on. The asking price is $35,000 and you may shake your head at that for some old racing parts, the fact that you’ll come out of this with enough stuff to keep you racing for a long time makes the money smart to us.
How neat would it be to have a 417 blown on alcohol in a slingshot dragster or even in a door slammer of some type? These aren’t top level fuel engines anymore but they’d live forever in a serious sportsman car or just something awesome to mess around with once in a while.
We love old parts around here and these are some of the coolest we’ve seen.