NEWS: Vic Edelbrock Jr. 1936-2017, Good Night Sweet Prince
With great sadness here at MNCEC we unfortunately have to announce news of the passing of Vic Edelbrock Jr. last week. Vic Jr. took the reigns of the Edelbrock empire in late 1962, while Vic Sr. cemented the name Edelbrock as a name in automotive performance, Vic Jr. was instrumental in modernizing and growing the company. Often with the death of the founder or an influential leader, it is hard for a company to find such brilliance a second time. With Vic Jr. lightening did strike twice as he saw the company through trials and tribulations that would have led a lesser leader to failure.
For example, look no further than Vic's oversight during the worst period for the automotive performance aftermarket, The Malaise. In this era, a lot of the original old guard of aftermarket companies found themselves in dire straits. Vehicle emissions were on the tongues of the population of the United States and it was becoming ever harder to go fast legally, kind of like today. Vic Jr. had the brilliant idea of marketing Edelbrock intakes as a way to improve emissions in addition to power. He implemented an in-house dynomometer to prove this claim and he was among the first aftermarket performance brands to pass C.A.R.B., which is quite the feat. This lead to a new era of Hot Rodding during the malaise where where step 1 was overcoming the factory emissions equipment to unlock additional power before you step up to go fast parts.
Vic's leadership lead him to become president of SEMA from 1971 to 1974 and a member of the Board of Directors for years after that. SEMA is not just a goliath car show in Las Vegas every fall but it also is a consortium of aftermarket industry leaders that also includes a very important political lobby which has been fighting for our rights to modify our car for years. During his time with SEMA, Vic helped protect the industry we all hold so dear.
After growing the company during the backdrop of The Malaise, Vic Jr. found his company in the best condition yet. In the 1980s and 1990s he would go on to grow the company into a aftermarket juggernaut making forced induction kits, camshafts, exhausts and just about anything you can think of. With this growth, he found that the company required such a large amount of resources that a foundry would be required to produce the necessary quantities of the aluminum alloy they required. In 1988, Edelbrock opened up the Edelbrock Foundry Corp. in San Jacinto, California. This provided the right quality materials for their parts with 100% American labor, from smelting to shipping.
For those of us who aren't American car fans, we can appreciate that in addition to branching out into other import platforms, Edelbrock made what is considered to be the most complete turbo kit for any Honda ever with their Edelbrock Performer X Turbocharger Kit for the 1996-2000 Honda Civic. Although it was meant for just the EK chassis, it could also be used with any D-series Civic with minor amounts of modification. This kit allowed all factory options to stay functional, allowed for bolt on installation and was C.A.R.B. compliant. This was a huge step forward in quality during an era of fly-by-night brands making items of questionable quality. Furthermore their intake manifolds for Hondas were an improvement on the OEM equipment, which is very hard to do.
Regardless of what you're into modifying, be it Harley Davidsons, Hondas, GM or Ford, Vic Edelbrock Jr. meant something to all of us. Vic Jr. was an idealist who looked beyond Import vs Domestic, he exemplified the best qualities of a petrolhead and improved the lives of all of us. Even non-enthusiasts can appreciate what he was able to do with emissions during the 1970's and, most importantly of all, provided jobs for Americans in the manufacturing sector. Today Edelbrock employs over 700 employees, from the person taping up boxes in shipping to the person in charge of advertising, all within this country. Everyone owes a debt of gratitude to this man for his vision and his values. Good night sweet prince, you will be missed.