Photos courtesy Joe Germann.
A 289, a nitro 427, and a SOHC: Joe Germann had a few different iterations of the Wild Child – one of Canada’s most famous drag racing cars and one of its first altered-wheelbase A/FXers – to choose from. Stock, it still had a good amount of provenance; in nitro form, it ran the fastest; but the Cammer 427 version was just right, and it’s that version of the Wild Child that will cross the block this weekend.
As the 1965 Ford Falcon arrived at Rankin Ford in London, Ontario, for a pair of mechanics there to turn into a dragstrip warrior, it came rather unusually equipped. Painted green with a white top, it also had a red interior. But the engine under the hood really set it apart: a 271hp 289-cu.in. Mustang HiPo V-8. Ford of Canada built seven Falcons with that engine and a four-speed that year, three of which – Rankin’s included- were designated B/Factory Experimental cars.
With Cobra heads, a quartet of Webers, 4.57 gears, a liberal amount of fiberglass body panels, and plenty of prep work the Falcon – dubbed the Wild Child thanks to a name-the-car contest that Rankin sponsored – ran a best quarter-mile time of 11.58 seconds at 119.75 MPH, enough to make it Canada’s fastest B/FX car. But the folks at Rankin – including shop foreman John McIntyre and driver Ev Rowse – wanted more, so they tore the Falcon apart after the end of the 1965 season to turn it into an A/FXer.
Out came the stock front suspension and in went a 1939 Ford straight axle mounted 10 inches forward of the stock axle position. The rear axle likewise shuffled forward. The HiPo 289 exited the engine bay to make room for a Hilborn-injected 427 wedge engine set up for fuel rather than gas, and while it ran fast – the Wild Child dipped into the 9s with that setup – it didn’t run predictably or reliably, so the Rankin team decided to take one more shot at A/FX fame in 1967, this time with a dual-quad 658hp SOHC 427 that they ordered from Holman-Moody and stroked .060 inches.
With the SOHC and a C6 automatic transmission backing it (along with a color scheme change to blue and with “Rankin Ford” lettering replacing the “Wild Child” lettering), the Falcon ran reliable 10-second quarters throughout the 1967 season, not bad for a three-year-old car that benefited from little factory support, particularly after its debut season.
After Rankin sold the Falcon – complete with its SOHC 427 – at the end of the 1967 drag racing season, it initially remained on the dragstrip though with the “Golden Boy” moniker. A subsequent owner converted it to street use simply by adding disc brakes to the straight axle.
Germann, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, came across the Falcon while on the search for something powered by a SOHC in 2003. It remained in Ontario and the SOHC that Rankin’s mechanics built for it remained in the Falcon, but it required a full restoration. Fortunately, other than that brief time in the Seventies, it didn’t see much road use and hadn’t been salted to death, so Germann was able to wrap the restoration in time for the 2004 Carlisle All-Ford Nationals, during which he not only reunited the car with McIntyre and Rowse but also took it to a nearby dragstrip, where he let Rowse drive the car again and show that it’s still capable of 11s, perhaps even 10s if Germann hadn’t installed a rev limiter on the SOHC.
Now, more than a decade later, the restored Wild Child will cross the block at this weekend’s Owls Head New England Auto Auction, where it is expected to sell for $125,000 to $145,000.
For more information on the New England Auto Auction in Owls Head, Maine, visit OwlsHead.org.