The 1934 5 window coupe Luke Balogh built as a tribute to the famous Mooneyham & Sharp 554 Drag racecar

The 1934 5 window coupe that North Vancouver’s Luke Balogh built as a tribute to the famous Mooneyham & Sharp 554 Drag racecar is the ultimate combination of planning, fabrication, technology and trickery. Balogh had seen the 554 car in Magazines back in the early 70’s and started to build his own 1934 5 window coupe in 1980.


The first car was to look like a retired racecar that had been converted to run on the street. It took 22 years for it to get on the street in it’s deliberate coat of primer and it makes Balogh and his wife feel like kids again. While enjoying the car, the Mooneyham Sharp car was always in the back of Balogh’s mind.

A few years after starting the first car he heard of the orginal Mooneyham and Sharp 554 car was going to be at the Freemont Dragstrip to run an exhibition run in 1985. Nostalgia racing was making a big comeback and seeing the original car set a plan in motion to build as exacting a replica as possible with all the modern components for safety and speed.


Researching the car thoroughly was the next step and pre internet days it was a long process. The Moneyham Sharp car had first raced in 1955 with fenders. It evolved until in 1959 after being rebuilt after a bad crash it ran without fenders and was painted Silver Metal Flake then in 1960 it showed up painted blue. The car was sold in 1963 to a fellow in Illinois and ran with yellow paint until 1965 before it disappeared. It was back in California in the early 1980’s and was restored by Roy Brizio before finally coming to rest in the Don Garlits museum. It looked very much like the 1960 version with a few exceptions.


In 1995 while in Arizona on holiday a visit to the Famaso Bakersfield drag strip when the hot rod reunion was just starting and saw some original cars and new cars built like the old cars. Balogh knew he had to finish the first car and by 2006 these “Nostalgia Drag Racing” was as popular as regular races and he started on his own “554” car.


Planning the car from start to finish as a tribute car all things were considered and planned out. Fibreglass and reproduction steel bodies were available in 3 window only and a junky hulk of a 34’ 5 window was available for $10,000. Balogh decided to buy a 1934 4 Door Ford hulk as the front doors are the right length and he did not want to rip apart a classic car.

He fabricated the back part of the roof in his North Vancouver Shop and bought new rear quarter panels and a decklid from Steve’s Autorestoration. The roof is Chopped 3 inches and the whole body took 5 months to complete sacrificing walking the dog Christmas and New Years.. The shop Balogh runs is a machine and fabrication shop doing a lot of work for fellow hot rodders, racers the movies as well as other heavy industries.


Finding an original frame in the “Buy and Sell” for $600 and using the side rails he built a modern rollcage to produce a 25.1E chassis like a modern Prostock Car and certified to 6 seconds. It took 3 years to complete the chassis and worked closely with Local Greg Park to get the Chassis certified. A few changes had to be made to pass the NHRA rules and get them to accept it. In the end the original frame rails are just along for the ride helping to hold the Body to the new tube chassis.


Starting with a vintage 1957 392 cu. In. block that Balogh has a good stock of, the engine is built with all other pieces being the highest quality available or fabricated by Balogh himself. Built to run on Alcohol allows the car to run many runs without too much maintenance to the Motor.


The combination Bruno Lenco transmission is air shifter and is built to handle 3000 horsepower, so again can run quite a few runs without problems. The transmission has air servos shifting the transmission sections and actuated by buttons on the steering wheels.


The rearend is 1957 American Pontiac housing that was same as was in the car towards the end of it’s time on the West coast. Machined so it can house Ford 9” components using 40 spline axles and a Mark Williams centre section and 4.57 gear ratio. Unlike the original with the rear end bolted directly to the frame, Balogh’s Moneyham Sharp 554 has a very sophisticated 4 link rearend suspension incorporating technology derived from Formula one racecars and also usedon ProStock. The current museum car now runs a Dana 60.

 The shocks are electrically and pnematically controlled via timers and an CO2 bottle is used to activate the shocks ensuring the best Launch and stability as the car goes down the quarter mile. The front suspension was styled after the look of the early 60’s in 1963 a Tube axle with hairpin rods was used but a 4” drop axle with a 1948 ford Radius rods was used to match the original 1959 to 1962 era. Steering is built by Gordon Schroeder and the steering box is typically build for sprint cars.


The original car had drum brakes but this car had Wilwood Disc brakes with 2-4 Piston calipers on each wheell…but only on the back wheels. Luckily when Balogh went to Deist Safety for a fitting of a Fire Suit it turned out Jim Deist had supplied the original car with it’s 14’ ring slot parachute and Balogh was able to get the last original Parachute Deist Safety had in stock.


The wheels are identical to what were on the car in the early 60’s and the front wheels are hard to find and Balogh has never seen the fronts for sale. He met a fellow in California who specialised in Halibrand wheels and they are critical to completing the look of the car….the car in the 80’s and the museum car used similar wheels and not the original wheels. Front Tires are Goodyear modern race Eagles and the back are Mickey Thompson Nostalgia top fuel tires 33” on 16” rims.


The interior is aluminum with the exception of the Rollcage and the black Tweed material with 3” pleats based on photos of the early Mooneyham & Sharp 554 racecar. The seat is a hand made and fitted for Balogh. The floorpan looks like a stamped panel but was built in house by Balogh.


The blue Paint came from a 1954 Dodge. Originally no good colour picture of the car was available that showed the depth of the paint and using colour chips from Dodges of the year it was made a bit richer with a sight metallic that is only evident in bright sunshine.



One cannot forget the grille being replaced by a blue piece of plexiglass that was part of the package that so attracted Balogh originally…it’s stance and wheels, paint colour and the plexigrille all added up to being the best looking car of it’s era.


The car looked finished in 2012 and shown at  few car shows and was first fired up in May 2013 as well as a couple of test runs in Mission BC and the Bakersfield Hot Rod Reunion this past Fall. It runs in Nostalgia 1 Eliminator, part of the NHRA heritage series that runs through the Westcoast. This allows the cars to run up to an E.T. of 7.6 seconds.


Thanks to Marie Balogh for all her patience, Ed Loewen for Paint and supplies, and the crew Jim Stewart, Mark Stewart, Rod Smele and Cam Durham Special Thanks to Tom Mohan for the fuel System help and Dwain Kremyr helped with the chassis and tube work.


The guts and the glory of the Stock Hemi 1957 392 cu. In. Block:
-8400 rpm at end of track.
-Crank shaft is a billet steel by Bryant
-Ross piston GRP rods
-Webster aluminum cylinder heads
-T and D roller rockers Crower camshaft
-8-71 Littlefield Blower
-Enderley Fuel Injection
-Hand built oil system and lot of modification to cylinder heads to improve airflow the intake
-Manifiold was a casting but was modified to add more strength
-Modern dry sump oil system.
-All external bracket and pulleys and idlers are made by Balogh