VS57 Pin Ups


VS57 mounted on a Mercury Flathead V8

This photo dates from 1953 and features one of the early VS57 units. Note the circular badge covering the solenoid housing, instead of the more familiar arrow head design. McCulloch produced mounting kits for installing the VS57’s on the Flathead Ford V8’s right through the fifties, which I guess reflects the popularity of these engines (then as well as now).

VS57 on a Ford Flathead V8

Another flathead V8 installation of the VS57, this time with the more modern arrowhead McCulloch badge covering the solenoid housing. Note the use of a neoprene lined rubber hose to connect the two barrel carburetor directly to the supercharger discharge outlet, which certainly saves having to worry about air boxes or carburetor bonnets.

1954 Kaiser Manhattan Installation

Kaiser was the first automobile manufacturer to adopt the McCulloch VS57, which boosted the horsepower output of the 226 cid ‘L’ head engine to 140 from 118, in a bid to match the horsepower outputs of the new V8’s being produced by other manufacturers. Interestingly the Continental six engine was still being used throughout the seventies as an industrial engine, which it was before Kaiser adopted it for automotive use. Note the Kaiser badge on the VS57, which looks very similar to the McCulloch badge.

Nash LeMans Jetfire Overhead Valve six McCulloch Installation

A very clean installation of a VS57 on a Nash Jetfire straight six. What makes this interesting, apart from the fact that it is a rare non-Kaiser straight six installation, is that the car is the Kurtis 500 originally campaigned by Bob Christie in the 1954 Pan Americana Carrera. The McCulloch was added by Jim Flanagan in 1955 and campaigned in the unlimited class of sports car events throughout the Northwest during 1955. The induction system was purportedly dual side draft Carter carburettors, hence the forward position of the bonnet. A picture of the car heads the McCulloch Performance page of this site.

VS57 mounted on a 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk

This picture is courtesy of the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk Owners Register web site and proves an interesting contrast to the more familiar 1957 Studebaker installations. This would have been a kit installation (note bonnet instead of air box), and if McCulloch’s horsepower improvement claims of 40% were correct, would have produced 385hp instead of the standard 275hp from the Packard 352 cid V8. Not bad for a bolt on accessory.

1955 Thunderbird VS57 Installation

This was actually Jayne Mansfield’s Thunderbird, so celebrity status at last for the McCulloch. I’m sure the power produced would have been more than adequate for the load that was being carried. Note the long cylindrical air cleaner that was used on the Thunderbird installations, mainly due to the lack of space and low clearance under the hood. It’s also interesting to note that the ducting for the air cleaner collected cool air from the front of car, which results in a more dense air charge being blown into the carburetor.

VS57 on a Thunderbird

More celebrity status for the VS57 supercharger, in this case via Clark Gable, who is checking out the VS57 installation on his Thunderbird along with John Thompson from Paxton Products. The photo dates from early 1956 so the Thunderbird is possibly a1956 model.


VS57 with 2-4’s on a 1955 Ford Customline

The engine is a lightly bored ’56 Thunderbird 292 cid with dual Carter WCFB’s installed in a ’55 Ford Customline as part of an exercise in producing a safe(!) family car in 1956.  The vacuum switch hook up is quite clear in this image, and it looks as though the boost pressure from the bonnets are hooked up to the vacuum secondary diaphragms on the carburetors. Weird looking air cleaner, wonder if it worked effectively?

VS57 with 2-4’s on a 1957 Ford

The engine is the Ford 270 HP E Code engine option for 1957 (dual Holley four barrels – the infamous towering inferno’s) with a Ford dealer installed VS57 kit.  Ford offered the McCulloch VR57 as a factory option (in the guise of the 300 - 325 HP F code engine) during 1957, and the VS57 as a dealer option. This set up would have produced in the region of 385 HP if McCullochs 40% horsepower increase claim is believed.

WOW! VS57 with 3-2’s on a Thunderbird

This blokes having a laugh, mind you it produced 102.27 mph in the quarter mile so it was quite effective. The image quite clearly shows that bonnets were not used on the two barrel carb installations, although I’m sure pipes were used that allowed the hood to be closed.


VS57 with 3-2’s on a ’57 Thunderbird

This is a more elegant installation, although I personally think that the air boxes are quite ugly, and when you’ve got 3-2’s you should show them, but then again why let people know what you’ve got? It’s actually a  McCulloch competition carburetor enclosure with Edlebrock 3-2 manifold, and this set up purportedly turned better than 146 for the standing mile during tests on the California dry lakes. This setup was available from Ford dealers, as a dealer installed option, and was also available from McCulloch distributors for Thunderbirds, Corvettes and Oldsmobiles.

Dual VS57’s (in series) with 2-4’s on a ’55 T-Bird.

This was a commonly used technique during the fifties for getting more boost out of a McCulloch. Two McCulloch VS57’s linked so that the boost from one was fed into the intake of the other, producing between 12 to 16 pounds of boost. I imagine the second VS57 would have to be modified to prevent it from venting the boost produced by the first, and that a very low compression ratio would have to be used to prevent the heads from blowing off (as well as a stronger bottom end set up). The fact that the above engine blew during competition indicates that it can be a risky business having too much boost.

DO-VS59 with airbox on a 57 Thunderbird

The ever popular Thunderbird installation (apparently more than 50% of all VS57 kit installations were on the Thunderbirds), in this case with the Direct Oil VS59.  The oil feed to what was previously the dipstick is quite clear in this image, although the rest of the installation remains pretty much the same as other Thunderbird installations with the exception of the cast aluminium air box. An unmodified  four barrel carb would have been used in this installation as the air pressure around the carb would be the same as inside the carb

Hiller Helicopter Installation

The use of the supercharger allowed the flight ceiling of the helicopter to be increased, and also provided an increase in the reserve power of the helicopter. For this installation the variable ratio pulley was replaced with a fixed ratio pulley as the helicopter engine tends to run at constant speeds, and doesn’t require bursts of power for acceleration.

1957 Studebaker Engine

Thanks to Gord for this picture, as it clearly shows how the VS57 was installed on the Studebaker 289 cid engine. Obvious differences to standard 289 cid engines are the modified water pump and thermostat housing as well as the air box on the carburetor. The use of the VS57 allowed the 289 cid engine to produce the same horsepower output as the previous years Packard 352 cid engine, and resulted in a better handling car due to the lighter weight of the 289.


VS57 mounted on a 6 cyl Kaiser Darrin

A couple of nice pictures of a VS57 (difficult to say if it is badged Kaiser or McCulloch) mounted on a Kaiser Darrin straight six, it's actually Darrin #2) photographed by Bob Johnston at Hershey, and boy doesn’t it look great. Apparantly McCulloch worked with Kaiser when designing the setup for the supercharged Kaiser Manhattens (which used carburetor enclosures to pressurise the carburetor), however in the case of the one or two supercharged Darrins, Kaiser undertook the modification themselves, just using a sealed carburetor. As can be seen hood clearances, and the position of the supercharger with respect to the carburetor would cause problems if an air box was used, and the mini bonnet certainly satisfies the requirements. The bonnet does look as though it could cause problems though as a clear path to the carburetor is required, in order to maintain the boost pressure. The kink in the connecting hose also could cause problems, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the supercharger was noisy at higher RPM’s due to buffeting between the impellor and carburetor. However, it looks great, I bet it goes great, and I wish I had one.


Healey 100 Installation

Intriguing pictures of a VS57 installation on a 1955 Healey 100 2.7 litre four cylinder courtesy of Larry Gallo. I wish we had more information of the hook up to the sidedraft twin SU carburettors, as I’m surprised that these carburettors could be used for blow through supercharging. From what can be seen the boost output seems to be split at the output throat of the VS57 and fed to the intake of each carburetor individually. The engine is quite interesting in this application as apparantly the block was used on the Austin London Cabs or the Gypsy (sometimes a diesel). They had prewar siamesed OHV ports making them good candidates for boost -- but then they already delivered 150 lbs-ft torque at about 2000 rpm into a 2100 lb package. A heroic stroke of 111 mm with three mains did restrict them to around 5100 rpm but they were usually Laycock Overdrive equipped. One fast car I bet.

Magnum Bushplane

Look closely and you can see a little old McCulloch VS57 nestled in the engine compartment of Terrance O’Neill’s Magnum Bushplane. The host engine is a Ford 351 Windsor and all engine modification, engine installation and supercharger installation were carried out by Terrance and his son. The estimated horsepower for this setup is 380 HP  and the system is set up to cruise at 4500 rpm! Interestingly the VS57 unit used for this installation was originally sourced from a snowmobile.


1953 Corvette with Triple Carb setup

At last, the Chevrolet fans say, a Chevrolet VS57 installation – I was beginning to think that this guy was biased! A very neat VS57 installation on a 1953 Corvette carried out by McCulloch Motors in 1954 in an effort to interest Chevrolet in the use of supercharging as a performance option. The imminent introduction of the Chevrolet V8 in 1955 lost McCulloch this opportunity, however McCulloch continued to produce aftermarket kits for both the six and the V8. On this installation the ducting between the VS57 unit and the carburettors was routed in front of the radiator, and two manifold pressure gauges were used (one at each end of the ducting) as means of monitoring for pressure drops across the long length of ducting. The air cleaner (which was oil bath) was tucked away in the cavity behind the wheel opening and pressure equalisation of the sidedraft Carter carburettor float chambers was achieved by the rather neat piping into the float chambers that can be seen in the second photograph.


1956 Mercury 312 Installation

See, I told you he was biased! Another Ford setup – mind you this time it’s a Mercury V8, possibly 1956 due to the engine colour scheme, being displayed in all it’s glory at a Motor Show. Look at the crowds gathering around, and for a change they outnumber the salesmen. The carburetor looks to be a Holley four barrel, judging from the bonnet , and interestingly the VS57 is mounted quite high, clearing all radiator hosing and plumbing at the front of the engine. This is the one I want, for my 56 Mercury. Thanks for Dan Evans for this tantalising photograph.

1955 Chevy Cameo Installation

At last a photo of a Chevrolet V8 McCulloch installation albeit in a Cameo. Judging from the ducting from the supercharger outlet the engine is equipped with a two barrel carburetor, although it’s very difficult to see, and prove otherwise, although the performance figures imply otherwise. The Cameo, which was a very stylish pick up truck featuring a fibre-glass bed, was produced from 1955 to 1958 and was available with the infamous V8 as an option. This particular installation was featured in Motor Trend March 1956 and was reportedly capable of 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds!

1955 Studebaker President Speedster

A very nice photograph from Brent Hagen of a Studebaker President Speedster installation of a McCulloch VS57 supercharger. The installation appears to be missing the supercharger ducting, the fan cowling and radiator hoses, which is fortunate as it gives us a clearer picture of the components used for the installation. A Speedster installation was road tested in Motor Life August 1955 and the 0 – 60 mph figure was reportedly 7.7 seconds! – check out the road test summary in the Road Test Comments section of the site, along with the photo of the installation with all ducting in place.


1952/53 Nash Healy Installation

A beautifully clean VS57 installation on a 1952 or 1953 Nash Healey straight 6. Note the ducting used which looks to have been fabricated from metal tubing (exhaust tubing?) – someone’s spent a bit of time on this installation and it looks to have paid off. The dual carburetor’s used on this installation are not the SU’s used on the Healey 100 installation (shown earlier) – although they are sidedraft, possibly Carter’s. Thanks to Brent Hagen again, for these fine photographs.

1953 Packard Convertible VS57 Installation

This picture was kindly sent by Paul Delaney and features a VS57 supercharged 1953 Packard convertible. This car was apparently one of four modified by McCulloch Motors in a bid to persuade Packard that supercharging was a valid method of upping the performance of the large Packards. Immediately noticeable in the photo is the fact that the VS57 is an early unit, as indicated by the early badge (1953) on the top of the blower, and that an air box was used, as in the Kaiser installation. Packard didn’t take to the McCulloch, presumably due to the fact that Packard were intending to introduce a V8 during 1954, however Packard were sufficiently impressed to use the supercharger on their 1954 Packard Panther Daytona show car, which produced an impressive 275 hp from the 359 cid straight eight engine, and was essentially the same as the 1953 Convertible installation shown above.


1954 Lincoln Installation

Rick Martin sent these pictures of his DO-VS59 installation on a 1954 Lincoln. The Lincoln, a La Carrera Classic winner,  is featured on the Visitors Vehicles page along with further details. Rick’s installation features a custom made crank pulley and mounting bracket, with the mounting bracket being modelled on a 1954/55 McCulloch Lincoln bracket. The oil feed to the blower can be seen clearly in the second photo, and the larger oil return can be seen in the first photo/ The filter in the foreground is a fuel filter, and Rick has told me that he intends to install an oil cooler once he has the blower setup and running properly. The control solenoid is currently switched via a cockpit mounted toggle although Rick intends to fit an accelerator actuated switch in the future. The belt used is a Gates TR30710 15/16 x 71-3/Truck and Bus Series Green Stripe II.


2-4 Setup on a Lincoln 368

An earlier picture of a later Lincoln engine, the 56/57 368 cid, featured in a neat rod installation. I don’t know much about this particular installation but a similar setup is discussed in the March 1957 Auto Mechanics magazine. The bracket used appears to be the McCulloch 1956 Lincoln bracket.  What is notable is the unique air filter, although the hose connecting it appears to be pretty restrictive to me, additionally the supercharger boost outlet is rooted through too many sharp bends so a significant pressure drop will occur before it hits the carburetor. Still looks good though.

3-2 Setup on a 1957 Ford

A shot of the 3-2 setup on Peter Leddy’s supercharged 292 '57 Ford Courier Sedan Delivery. This was a rare setup in the fifties, so to see one today is definitely a surprise. Peter drove the all the way from Dallas Texas and raced it in the Y Block Shootout at the Expo Ford show at the National Trail Raceway east of Columbus, Ohio, which is a sure indication of the reliability that can be obtained with a VS57 setup Times are believed to have been in the sixteens.

MG TD – Interesting hood ornament

If you look closely, and can remain focussed on the subject, there is a VS57 nestling under the hood of the MG. The only picture of a MG installation that I’ve seen so far. This McCulloch supercharged MG was demonstrated as a part of McCulloch’s publicity program at the 1954 Memorial Day 500 lap stock car classic race at Carrell Speedway. The MG was just for exhibition purposes although a supercharged Kaiser Manhatten was entered, qualifying 12th in the 33 car field, and leaving the race after 55 laps due to a smash up. The guy on the left is stock car driver Bill Cantrell, and the girl? Dolores Fleck, Miss Carrell Speedway.


Dual McCullochs on a 1955 Chevrolet

Difficult to see but each VS57 unit has its own idler arm which presumably doesn’t leave much room for a cooling fan. They were both purportedly set to 10 psi boost which was fed into a custom carburetor box which contained three Ford two barrel carbs. Estimated power output from this dual setup was 300 horses, which is about 60% up from the stock  180 horses. The installation was carried out by Morco Engineering of Gardena California, a name which keeps cropping up when discussing McCulloch superchargers, and utilises custom made mounting brackets and pulleys. The use of two blowers in parallel like this does not  increase the boost output from the McCullochs but it does reduce the volume of air that each blower has to pump reducing the loading of each blower, and thus it is safer to turn up the boost output from the standard 5 or 6 psi. Not sure if  I’d go as high as 10 psi though.

Chevy Inline 6 installation

Thanks to Jim DesJardin for this picture of his Chevy inline 6 setup which he is planning to install in his 1953 Chevrolet truck. The engine is a 080 over 235" inline 6 and the  bracket and lower pully were found at a swap meet about 15-20 years ago. The bracket has the CH 101 designation on it which indicates that it is for the V8, however it fits the inline 6 perfectly which suggests that it was originally designed for the inline 6.

Keeping with the Chevy theme a couple more photos of a McCulloch on a 1957 Corvette 283 looking cool in a real cool Roadster owned by Metalshapes from the H.A.M.B. For obvious clearance reasons the supercharger has been mounted on the side of the engine instead of more centrally, Unfortunately it's quite difficult to see if the bracketry is custom or a modified McCulloch bracket.

Small Block Chevrolet

This small block Chevy setup shows the standard Chevy installation in a bit more detail with the supercharger mounted more centrally. I'm guessing that the carb is the Carter WCFB which was also used on some 56 Mercurys. I'm not sure if the air intake would cover the rocker cover or is routed across the engine as per the Cameo shown earlier. The bracket is the CH101 bracket although it looks slightly different to the one on Jim DesJardin's inline 6 shown earlier - it has the same basic shape though.

1958 18' Correct Craft Sportsman

A 1958 18' Correct Craft Sportsman powered by a 1956 374 cid Packard V8 with dual 4-barrel carburetors and a VS57. The standard dual 4 374 cid was rated at 310 horsepower and this was a claimed 400 horsepower, although if that was the case it would have meant that the McCulloch was running above it's limitations. It is possible that it's a DO-59 model though which could concievably handle the higher horsepower. Specified engine mods, apart from the obvious supercharger, were a hot cam, sodium valves and a full main bearing girdle to support the bottom end. As for the boat it was a garden tow boat that was used in many movies and movie clips, showing skiing in Cypress Gardens, many of them showing girls pyramid skiing. It is said that when you open up the engine box people stop in their tracks and when they hear the cam and the whine of the super charger they backup!!

1953 Riva with Dual McCulloch's

Another boat installation, this time with a pair of dual McCulloch's. I'm not sure what the engine is - very narrow V that's for sure. The boat is a 1953 Riva (first in the US) and the superchargers were installed in early '60's. The V8 is possibly a Riva - any suggestions/corrections?