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Thinking back on the deal, the drawing was not very explicit.  Much of it was sketched and only a couple of views were meaningful in building what the drawing represented.  I took a crack at it anyway and produced what amounted to a single-plane, 4V intake manifold…in fiberglass by the method described previously in one of these MaxChevy columns.  The benchmark for comparison was the single 4V high-rise Edelbrock design described a few paragraphs back.  Beat that one and Vic figured we had a winner.  Prototype number one didn’t pass muster, falling considerably below the power output of the existing Edelbrock design.

Back on the flow bench, we managed to find some areas for improvement and proto number two was built.  While somewhat better than number one, it also missed the mark.  An added caveat to this little story is the fact Edelbrock had already begun advertising the coming of a “revolutionary” design of manifold…which, at that point, wasn’t yet revolutionary.  So a dab of pressure was building on the backside of the situation.

Given that pressure and the fact my friend who’d supplied the design might know something I didn’t, his services were enlisted to make improvements to the second prototype.  After several of his “tricks” had been applied, we were still short of becoming successful.  And then an interesting wrinkle transpired.  On a Saturday afternoon, alone at the company and working equally alone on the flow bench, I happened to be holding the number two prototype against the test cylinder head, the manifold slipped a bit and suddenly the air flow increased…measurably.  Quite by accident, I’d found the key.

I then made a poor decision. Rather than wait until Monday to share my discovery with Vic, I called my friend and told him about the event.  It turned out that he was in Vic’s office early Monday, indicated he’d solved the riddle and wanted to build prototype number three by himself.  My friend, right?  So he did.

But this bit of an episode isn’t yet finished.  Once the final prototype was built and run, it was clearly better than the two-plane, 4V Edelbrock design being used for comparison.  Almost simultaneously, my “friend” developed back trouble and wound up in the hospital.  Since neither he nor Vic had ever worked out their agreement and we were now committed to building the “revolutionary” design, I urged him to get the matter settled, sooner than later.  Long story short, my friend’s offer (read demands) were preposterous, a lawsuit ensued and (if memory serves) and out-of-court settlement was finally concluded. 

The interesting twist is that during pre-trial due diligence, we were required to re-run tests on all the prototypes to determine their evolution, in order to document the new design’s progress.  In an effort to create test-to-test uniformity, we decided to create the same fuel flow conditions (through carburetor jetting) for each of the tested prototypes.  By so doing, all of the manifolds produced virtually the same power, under those conditions.  What had happened was the single-plane design had originally produced a weaker fuel metering signal (compared to the two-plane Edelbrock manifold), resulting in a leaner net mixture and corresponding increase in power…something that later became a standard occurrence when changing from a two-plane to a single-plane intake manifold.  Bottom-line?  Had we been matching fuel curves during development of the new design, power would have changed little at all and the Tarantula manifold would likely never have been built.  As it turned out, it set the standard for virtually every single-plane, V-type intake manifold that has been built during the past 35 years. The experience was one of the most significant examples of unintended circumstances I have ever encountered.  Hindsight can be astoundingly revealing.

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