Old chrome Strombergs

It’s hard to beat the patina of old chrome Strombergs – those 97 carbs lucky enough to have felt the polisher’s hand way back when. Knowing what we do now about how hard it is to chrome passivated zinc, it’s a miracle any were done in the first place, let alone survived. But we’re glad they did. It’s like they have a life all of their own. If they could talk, what stories would they tell? Whatever their history, here’s a few examples of old chrome Strombergs that are still doing great duty in their current lives…..Click on the pics for bigger views.


Chrome 97s for Kookie car

kookie kar 1We had an enquiry from someone today who is building a T-bucket inspired by Norm Grabowski’s Kookie car. It reminded us about the time we supplied four new 97s for one of the first Kookie clones – way before we started this blog and well worth a revisit.

This new “Kookie car” clone, owned by Detroit’s Ron Kregoski and built by Reno Rods and Customs in Oklahoma City is a very accurate recreation of the original, built in the 1950’s by actor, artist and hot rod legend Norm Grabowski. Featured in hundreds of magazines and a highlight of the 1950’s television series 77 Sunset Strip, driven by Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, the original Kookie car is one of the best known hot rods of all time.

Running a hopped-up 1952 Cadillac engine with four chrome 97s, Ron’s clone is as accurate as possible to the 50+ year-old hot rod. He contacted Stromberg back in 2008 because our new and improved 97s are faithful in every detail to the original 97s Grabowski bolted to the Caddy’s rare Horne four-carb intake manifold back in the day.

The Genuine Stromberg 97 bowl and airhorn castings, stainless steel linkage and miscellaneous screws and fittings were all shipped to Advanced Plating in Nashville, TN, for chrome plating or polishing, then shipped back to Stromberg for final assembly onto new bases, specially colour matched to the red engine block. The perfectly chromed 97s are an exact copy of the original set-up, and the crowning touch to Kregoski’s Kookie clone.

Looking like it just pulled up from its April, 1957 Car Craft magazine cover shoot, Grabowski said, “It’s the closest clone done yet,” at the 2009 Detroit Autorama in March, where it took 2nd place in the Modified T-Bucket category. Owner Ron Kregoski said, “For Stromberg, Reno Rods and everyone else involved in the build, Norm’s approval is the ultimate accolade”.


Stromberg 97 with ported vacuum

DSC_0726We have added an important new capability to our 97 model carburetor – a ‘ported vacuum’ source for your vacuum advance distributor. Available as an option (add -VP on to the usual carb part numbers) it is available on the full range of Stromberg 97 carburetors – in stock on the regular OE finish and to special order on Chrome, Black and Barn Find models. Ported vacuum capability is also available in a new replacement base casting (throttle body), complete with all new throttle shaft and plates, idle needle screws, kicker linkage and choke lever. Available only from Stromberg Carburetor, it’s the perfect swap-in for any 97.

Genuine Stromberg 97 with vacuum port – Part Number 9510A-VP
New 97 base with vacuum port (comes with gaskets) – Part number 9514-VP

Developed in-house here at Stromberg Carburetor, the new vac-port equipped 97s provide vacuum through a small brass fitting located just behind the kicker linkage on the same side of the carburetor base (throttle body) as the typical small-block Chevy distributor vacuum canister. The fitting can be replaced with a small set screw (supplied) if engine needs change.

Like our cable choke and ‘push-throttle’ options, the new vacuum port makes it easier to use 97s in so many applications. To test the effects on our 350ci Chevy dyno motor, we disconnected the vacuum and locked the throttle at 1800rpm. Once reconnected, the vacuum-induced additional timing raised rpm to 2000 and increased torque by 4 ft-lb – all without adding more gas, of course. The exhaust sound changed considerably, too, so it obviously appreciated the extra timing.

Tech note: Unlike manifold vacuum, ‘ported vacuum’ is taken from just above the throttle plate to provide additional, vacuum-activated timing advance only at light load/part throttle conditions and not at idle or full throttle. Claimed benefits of vacuum advance include improved fuel economy and throttle response. Most aftermarket vacuum advance distributors are designed to work with ported vacuum, though the technical specification should always be checked. And of course, multiple 97 applications need only one vac-port equipped carburetor.

The new Genuine Stromberg 97 with vacuum port and the new vac port-equipped 97 base are available through the worldwide Stromberg dealer network. Further details, including pricing, and help with installation is available from us here at Stromberg by email or via the Stromberg Tech Center at www.stromberg-97.com.