Tested: The First-Ever All-Wheel-Drive Dodge Challenger

The Dodge Challenger has been enjoying its niche in the pony car market. While its crosstown rivals Mustang and Camaro have gone smaller and more agile, the Challenger has continued to offer the only useful back seat in the class. Its consistency hasn’t left it stagnant, either. Sales have grown year after year by adding interesting options to the build sheet. Dodge gave us the brawny 6.4L Hemi, flashy throwback color options, a shaker hood, the brutish Hellcat, and soon the Demon. While those traditional muscle car cues of loud, in-your-face power helped the V8 Challengers earn respect on the street and strip, it was still the V6-powered Challengers that were earning the majority of sales. That should come as no surprise, because as much as we’d like to think that every 1970 Challenger that rolled off the Hamtramck line was a Hemi or a 440 Six-Pack, far more were produced with a slant six or a 318ci V8, and that product mix hasn’t changed.

As Dodge looked at ways to continue growth of the Challenger brand, a sales trend became immediately apparent. Buyers in the northern US have been scooping up all-wheel-drive (AWD) Chargers just as fast as the RWD models. Seizing the opportunity, Dodge engineers set to develop the Challenger GT, the first AWD Challenger and the only AWD vehicle in its class. To assemble the Challenger GT, Dodge engineers used the Charger’s AWD transmission and front axle along with the Charger’s police package suspension. The police car suspension is sturdy, returning a firm, comfortable ride on the highway. We spent hours on bad roads and we definitely felt the potholes and frost heaves, not as harshly as more track-focused cars, but enough to feel the GT was up to the task of taking on the worst of roads without bottoming out or upsetting the balance of the car.

2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

The ZF 8-speed automatic, the only transmission available, is programmed to work seamlessly. Even in manual mode, with shifts held off until near redline, power delivery is smooth. The low first gear and close ratio spacing combined with quick shifting squeeze every bit of available power out of the PentaStar. We venture that, lined up against an earlier production R/T with its five-speed auto, the 305hp V6s would hold its own. Due to its wide appeal, Dodge has made the V6/eight-speed powertrain the only combination available in the GT.

2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

For the proper AWD experience, Dodge invited us to Portland, Maine, to drive the GT on cold city streets, dirt roads, and into New Hampshire where the Team O’Neil Rally School lead us on drives that put the Michelin Primacy MXM4 all-season tires to the test. With a rally instructor from Team O’Neil sitting shotgun, we piloted the GT first in a 0-25mph acceleration test. It was easy to feel the wheelspin, and the yaw associated with poor traction, but the car clawed up to speed and stayed pointed straight thanks to the vehicle stability control. While the AWD system is part-time, allowing 100-percent of engine torque to go to the rear wheels, up to 38-percent of available torque is sent to the front if any one of a number of situations is met, including when the ambient temperature is below or near freezing, when the windshield wipers are on, when the transmission is in sport mode, or when wheel slip is detected.

Next we tried the GT on a skidpad covered in rutted snow. Here we got our first feel for the car’s application of power while cornering on a low-traction surface and were reminded how much fun it can be to drift even at low speed. The rear bias allows the GT to feel like a regular rear-drive Challenger, with added throttle rotating the car in the snow to go where it is pointed. On a slushy autocross we had even more fun, pitching the GT around corners and occasionally knocking into the snow bank that lined the course, things we definitely wouldn’t consider in a RWD pony car.

The Challenger GT offers consumers a choice they’ve never had from a pony car, and starting at $33,395, it brings a lot of equipment to the table, including the standard eight-speed auto and an available interior usually reserved for high performance V8 models. More choice in the automotive market is usually a good thing, especially if it means more buyers keeping the pony car market viable. While we’d love for a Hemi to find its way into an AWD Challenger, the GT as it stands is a compelling package that will only broaden the Challenger’s reach and bring more capability and utility to the class.

The Challenger’s pass-through trunk allows for snowboards and skis to fit easily, making the GT a viable choice for weekend trip to the mountains.
The Challenger’s pass-through trunk allows for snowboards and skis to fit easily, making the GT a viable choice for weekend trip to the mountains.
We had fun slinging the Challenger GT around a slushy autocross course that would have left a RWD car spinning its tires.
We had fun slinging the Challenger GT around a slushy autocross course that would have left a RWD car spinning its tires.
Source: hotrod.com
Posted in Interesting Stuff

Mark Greenisen’s 1974 Gremlin Is a Bright-Green, Cone-Killing Monster

Mark Greenisen’s 1974 Gremlin might have started out as the cliché “little old lady’s car,” but it’s highly unlikely that little old lady would recognize it if she saw it on the street today.

We spotted Mark’s Gremlin at last year’s Car Craft Summer Nationals, where the Slinger, Wisconsin, native was tossing the bright-green missile around the autocross course we had set up inside the Milwaukee Mile at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. The Gremlin has come a long way from the plain-Jane, straight-six automatic Mark loaded onto his trailer in South Carolina in 2008. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with the Gremlin, so it sat around collecting dust until Jeff Schwartz convinced him to drag it down to his shop in Woodstock, Illinois.

1974-amc-gremlin-79

Schwartz, a pioneer in the G-machine trend, has been making a living stuffing full frames underneath old unibody muscle cars. Schwartz’s frames transform even the sloppiest freeway flier into an autocross missile. Mark has been a SCCA regular for years, and more recently, he has been competing in spec Miata, battling it out on tracks across the Midwest. As his kids have gotten older, he wanted something that wasn’t as time-intensive, and when he decided to start autocrossing again, the Gremlin seemed like the perfect pocket rocket.

1974-amc-gremlin-gremlin-emblem

Since the Gremlin isn’t your average mainstream hot rod, Schwartz didn’t have a ready-made frame hanging on his wall, but that wasn’t going to slow down Mark. After crawling around underneath the car with a tape measure for a couple of hours, they decided that with a few modifications they’d be able to make one of Jeff’s Camaro frames fit the Gremlin.

Once they’d settled on the frame, they were off to the races. It wasn’t long before the Gremlin’s stock suspension was sitting on the scrap pile, replaced by a Schwartz G-Machine setup, with a triangulated four-link in the back. With the new frame underneath the Gremlin, they set the car back on the ground, and that’s when they hit the biggest snag of the entire build. At the ride height Mark wanted, it was impossible to turn the front wheels. Getting creative, Mark and Jeff chopped up the front fenderwells and moved them up inside the body. They used a set of junkyard front fenders to get a matching effect in the back.

1974-amc-gremlin-right-profile

A mild 360 is under the hood, although Mark admitted it wasn’t originally part of the plan. He’d wanted to drop in an LS engine he squirreled away in the corner of his garage, but Schwartz convinced him it wouldn’t be an AMC without an AMC under the hood. Mark’s mill might not have a lot of trick parts, but it doesn’t have any problem hauling the mail, making a dyno-proven 505 hp at 5,750 rpm.

1974-amc-gremlin-engine

After stripping off the bumpers to clean up the body lines, Mark hauled the Gremlin up to Butler Auto Body in Butler, Wisconsin, where 30 years of door dings were erased and the car was painted in Green Fusion (a Hyundai color) with rainbow flake added to really make the car pop. Baer brakes with massive six-piston calipers keep the car stopping on the proverbial dime, and a set of custom mini-tubs in the back keep the 18-inch XXRs wheels nicely tucked inside the rear fenders.

1974-amc-gremlin-fender

Inside, almost everything is exactly the way it left Kenosha, Wisconsin, many moons ago, with the exception of a set of C4 Corvette bucket seats Mark had reupholstered to match the rest of the tan interior. A harness bar and a set of five-point belts keep Mark and a passenger stuffed deep inside those Corvette seats. Auto Meter gauges stuffed into the stock dash monitor the engine’s vital signs, and just out of sight is a Halon fire-suppression system—just in case.

1974-amc-gremlin-21

As clean as Mark’s Gremlin is, make no mistake: it’s no trailer queen. Right after putting the finishing touches on it, Mark didn’t hesitate to head straight for North Carolina to compete in RideTech’s Cars and Cones event, a weeklong driving tour that includes daily autocross challenges. Since then he’s been driving the wheels off the little Gremmie, driving it to work as often as he can, and competing in autocross events on the weekend.

Tech Notes:

Who: Mark Greenisen
What: 1974 AMC Gremlin
Where: Slinger, KS, home of the Slinger Super Speedway, which bills itself as the world’s fastest quarter-mile paved oval.
Engine: The 360 AMC in Mark’s Gremlin relies on a tried-and-true recipe for big, streetable power. The bottom end is all stock AMC, with an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and cylinder heads up top. The cam is a fairly mild grind, while a set of Hedman headers lets everything breathe easily. Even though it’s nothing fancy, the combo really moves, delivering 505 hp at 5,750 rpm and 518 ft-lb of torque at 5,100 rpm, which is good enough for 12.30 at 112 mph in the quarter-mile.
Air/Fuel: A Carter 650-cfm carb, combined with a stock mechanical fuel pump, are fed by a 10-gallon fuel cell out back.
Transmission: A highly sought-after AMC TH350 (yes, they made those) with an ATI converter and a shift kit keep Mark running through the gears.
Rearend: A Moser full-floater 9-inch stuffed with 31-spline axles and a 3:50 ring-and-pinion gear.
Suspension: The Gremlin’s entire build started with the suspension, and the custom Schwartz Performance G-Machine chassis underneath is the lynchpin of the entire build. Jeff Schwartz’s innovative design cuts the mustard in a way that would have been impossible with the factory design. Schwartz didn’t have an off-the-shelf chassis for the Gremlin, but was able to modify an existing Camaro design to fit. The improved front-suspension geometry, combined with the trick multilink rear suspension, are what keeps Mark at the top of his class on the autocross course.
Wheels/Tires: Muscle cars are all about stance, and the meaty 18-inch XXR 962s wrapped in massive BFGoodrich Rivals are the perfect pair.
Paint/Body: Schwartz Performance handled the custom bodywork required to fit the huge meats, sectioning the front fenders 3-1/2 inches and installing a set of mini-tubs in the rear. To make everything look just right, they chopped up a set of junkyard fenders to make the front and rear wheel flares match perfectly. Tom, Kenny, and Elliott at Butler Auto Body squirted on the Hyundai Green Fusion, adding just enough custom rainbow flake to really make the Gremlin sparkle.

Source: hotrod.com

Posted in Drivetrain, Interesting Stuff, Mopar

Supercharged 975hp 1949 Caddy Delivers in Luxury

1949-cadillac-convertible-supercharged-lsx-right-profile

Like most wives, Tracy started questioning why her husband, Harold, had so many project cars lying around the house. Like most husbands, Harold resorted to the oldest trick in the book by offering to build Tracy a project car of her own. The plan worked beautifully, and the end product is a 1949 Cadillac Series 62 convertible that rides low and rocks a 975hp supercharged LSX. Just like it somehow looks traditional and contemporary at the same time, the Caddy hides its modern luxuries behind a mirage of vintage charm.

Right from the get-go, the direction of Tracy’s Cadillac build deviated from most project cars that husbands supposedly build for their wives. Husbands typically build whatever they want, however they want, then claim that their wives actually own the car. Tracy wasn’t having any of that, and played a very active role throughout the entire build process. After years and years of dutifully accompanying Harold at shows and on countless cruises, she wanted to enjoy the hobby on her own terms this time around.

All it took was one rather uncomfortable road trip to seal the deal. “We did the Goodguys Road Tour with the top down in Harold’s 1933 Ford roadster a few years ago. Half the time we were freezing, and half the time we were sweating,” Tracy recalls. “I told Harold that if we did the tour again, we were going to do it in comfort. My first car was a 1970 Mach 1 Mustang, so I’ve always liked fast cars. I saw a white Cadillac convertible with a blue top at a show years several back, and I fell in love with it. When I suggested building a more comfortable car for the Road Tour, Harold was all over it.”

After researching vintage Cadillacs online, Tracy decided that a 1949 Series 62 had to be in her future. “I really liked the lines, the curves, and the chrome on the 1949 body style. I was adamant about building a car with white paint, a blue top, wire wheels, and whitewalls,” she recalls. Eventually, Harold and Tracy found a suitable restoration candidate. It was black with a worn-out top and ragged interior, but otherwise the car was in great shape. Fortunately for Tracy, her husband just happened to own Customs and Hot Rods of Andice (CHRA), the same shop responsible for Billy Thomas’ Ridler-winning 1939 Olds.

Needless to say, the Caddy was in very good hands. Tracy, Harold, and the CHRA crew immediately collaborated to set a direction for the build. “We needed to give the car some attitude, so we talked Tracy into slamming it, putting it on 18-inch Dayton wheels, and stretching the wheelbase to put the front wheels in the right location after lowering it. I wouldn’t budge on those three things,” Michael Kaiser of CHRA recounts. “Tracy gave us a lot of flexibility with the build, and Harold let us go nuts with the fit and finish. The goal was to build a car that looked original, but with coach-built quality.”

1949-cadillac-convertible-supercharged-lsx-tire

Smart shopping meant that the Caddy required only minimal rust repair before diving into the fun stuff. “It was already a gorgeous car that only needed one new outer rocker, and patch repairs on the floor and tail panel. I don’t mind cutting a car up under the right circumstances, but this car looks so good straight from the factory that we just wanted to enhance what’s already there, as if GM made a coach-built car back in 1949,” Kaiser explains.

The body modifications aren’t dramatic, but they most certainly clean up the Caddy’s overall appearance. “To sharpen and tighten up the lines, we reshaped the rear fenders to create a crisp parting line. The front and rear bumpers have been narrowed and pulled closer to the car,” Kaiser says. “We also reshaped the bumperettes and the license plate recess. Tracy didn’t like how the exhaust hung down, so we built a custom aluminum belly pan and routed the tailpipes through the bumper.”

Beneath the Caddy’s streamlined yet traditional skin is an engine combo, driveline, and chassis that’s strays dramatically from convention. Power comes from a 454ci Don Hardy Race Cars supercharged LSX that kicks out 975 hp. The combo utilizes a Chevrolet Performance block, crank, and rods matched with custom DHRC forged pistons and a custom hydraulic roller cam. A Magnuson 2300 blower squeezes air through Dart LS3 cylinder heads, and exhaust exits through custom CHRA–built 321 stainless steel headers and dual 3-inch Borla mufflers. The big, bad LSX sends its 913 lb-ft of torque back to a Bowler 4L80E automatic and a Strange 9-inch rearend.

1949-cadillac-convertible-supercharged-lsx-engine-bay

All that power combined with nearly 4,900 pounds of mass can be quite a handful to harness, so CHRA turned to the Roadster Shop for a custom chassis. It boasts beefy A-arms up front, a four-link out back, and a pair of sway bars to keep the big Caddy flat in corners. RideTech ShockWave air springs and shocks allow adjusting the ride height at will while keeping the ride quality comfy. Bringing it all to a halt on demand are six-piston Wilwood brakes clamping down on 14-inch rotors.

Somewhat surprisingly, none of the modern hardware is at odds with the Caddy’s old-school vibe. “We made a lot of changes to make the car look more period correct. Greening Auto CNC machined a set of custom valve covers that copy the shape of the originals and also hide the coil packs,” Kaiser explains. “The raised ribs and Cadillac script are a perfect match to the original valve covers. The carbon-fiber jackshaft on the blower really bugged us because it clashed with the era the car is from. Since simply painting the shaft would still show the texture of the carbon fiber, we came up with the idea of building a blower cover. It’s press-formed from 0.063-inch aluminum to mimic the waffle pattern of the blower. We finished the motor off with a custom CNC air inlet.”

Since a stock engine compartment isn’t worthy of an LSX this pretty, CHRA surrounded it in an equally stunning cocoon. Believe it or not, the cool recesses stamped into the radiator cover look very similar to stock. CHRA drew inspiration from the factory design, smoothed it out a bit, and created the cleaner, better-fitting piece. “We carried the stamped, recessed look over into the inner fenders and firewall. The idea was to keep a cohesive theme throughout the engine compartment to make it look like it could have been built that way from the factory.”

Granted there are many talented hot rod shops that can stuff a big motor into a Caddy and drop it down on airbags, where CHRA’s creations stand out are their painstaking fit, finish, and attention to detail. “Since we were building this Cadillac and the Ridler car at the same time, it was hard to ‘turn it off’ sometimes,” Kaiser admits. “We machined a custom motorized door for the center of the dash that flips down to hide the backup camera display, A/C controls, stereo head unit, and seat heater switches. The A/C bezels, power window switches, and trim rings are also custom-machined one-offs. The side glass frame has been cut to fit better, and the steering column and underdash covers are custom as well. We even custom-machined the trans dipstick to look more period correct.”

1949-cadillac-convertible-supercharged-lsx-side-mirror

Not surprisingly, achieving monumental levels of fit and finish requires a monumental effort. “To get the car to the level it’s at now, we had to mess with every single panel and piece of trim. It goes from an elegant car to ‘Oh my goodness, look at that,’” Kaiser remarks. “Our fabrication team did a great job on the metalwork, Jay Schluter did a great job on the custom interior work, and our body shop brought the car home. It was a great team effort all around.”

Immediately after finishing the car, Harold and Tracy drove it from Colorado to Kentucky on the Goodguys Road Tour. Factoring in the drive to and from the event from their home in Texas, the trip tallied over 3,000 miles. Just as Tracy had hoped for, the car ran without a hitch, and just as importantly, she cruised in comfort. “The car has so much power that you can do whatever you want in traffic. It’s a lot of fun, and I love driving it,” Tracy gushes.

1949-cadillac-convertible-supercharged-lsx-cadillac-emblem

Ultimately, there’s a good chance that those too smart or too proud to fall for the oldest trick in the book don’t have 975 hp worth of slammed, stretched, and supercharged 1949 Cadillac sitting in the driveway. So who’s the sucker now?

Posted in Interesting Stuff

The six-year build on this beautiful 1953 is finally complete

Sometimes dreams really do come true. For Nicholas Benoit, a diesel mechanic living in Port Sulphur, Louisiana, it happened in a convenience store! As far back as he could remember, Nick always dreamed of owning a classic truck like this. He and his wife, Rachel, were traveling to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to look at several classic trucks that they found on the Internet, but the results were disappointing. On the way home however, a quick stop in a local convenience store changed everything. Rachel picked up a truck sales paper and saw a picture of this orange 1953 F-100. Although it looked too good to be true, they took a chance, spoke to the owner in Michigan, closed the deal, and were thrilled when their new truck arrived at their home in Louisiana.

1953 Ford F-100 Nick Benoit-03.JPG

Although the truck needed some upgrades, most of them were already on Nick’s to-do list, so it worked out perfectly. Nothing ensures quality like a firm foundation, so improvements began with chassis mods, boxing the rails, and adding a new Heidts Super Ride II frontend with 2-inch drop spindles, power steering, and a Classic Performance Products disc brake conversion package. The original parallel leaf springs combine with modern coilovers to stabilize the narrowed 8.8 rear, running 3.73 gears and a Heidts disc brake conversion. Nick smiles when he says “A four-link is already on the short list.” The original gas tank was replaced with an 18-gallon fuel cell, now located between the rear framerails. Transforming the chassis into a roller are the 15-inch Center Line Warrior Drag Series rims, fitted with P225/70R15 Hoosier rubber up front and fat, 31×18.5×15 Hoosiers in the rear.

1953 Ford F-100 Nick Benoit-09.JPG

The truck already had a strong 390 FE V-8 installed but if lots of power is good, more is even better, so Nick had the motor rebuilt, boring it 0.040 over and upgrading the rotating assembly with Keith Black 9:1 pistons and a Ford FE crank from Eagle Specialty Products. A COMP Cam works the three angle-cut valves in the Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads. Nick chose a 4160 Classic 750-cfm Holley four-barrel carb with a “bird catcher” scoop for the air/fuel mix, along with a PerTronix Flame-Thrower II distributor and coil that fires the spark through MSD wires. Sanderson FF427 ceramic-coated headers feed a 3-inch stainless steel exhaust system with a Pypes crossover and Gibson MWA mufflers (Mufflers with Attitude). The side-exiting pipes dump through tips cut into the running boards and create a serious performance rumble. Keeping the big engine cool was a priority, beginning with an Edelbrock Victor series 8835 water pump and three-row, Champion aluminum radiator running a Flex-a-lite fan. A Flex-a-lite oil cooler and TCI Automatic transmission cooler protect the rest of the fluids while the billet aluminum V-Belt pulley kit powers the Tuff Stuff 100-amp alternator. Wayne Myer from Harahan Auto Parts in Harahan, Louisiana, was in charge of the engine build. The potent package sends 450 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque to the TCI Street three-speed automatic controlled by a B&M Slap Shifter.

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Once the essential powertrain upgrades were in place, body mods were next. When the truck arrived, it had a Mid Fifty fiberglass Tilt Dog House front end along with their headlights, taillights, window glass, and sideview mirrors. New rear fenders and tailgate were added but the rest of the bed is original. Inside the bed, the rich-looking Oak planks are separated by polished stainless steel strips and mini-tubs were added to provide clearance for the 18.5-inch-wide rear tires. A louvered rear pan and repro Ford taillights wrap up the rear. Up front, the original grille was re-chromed and an aftermarket bumper added. The truck retains its original cowl vent as a nostalgic touch. The distinctive Prowler Orange metallic paint with Pearl ghost flames was shot by Doug Haselet from Cassopolis, Michigan.

The final effort was making a few changes to an already beautiful interior, complete with tan leather Mustang bucket seats with a center armrest. Using the same Oak found in the bed and the cup holder on top of the center armrest, the Oak center console holds the aggressive-looking B&M shifter. For a nostalgic touch, the original Ford heater is still in place and warms the cab on chilly mornings. Monitoring all the critical elements of the high-performance motor and looking like a piece of dashboard jewelry is the distinctive, silver and gold Ford Masterpiece five-piece gauge cluster. The final upgrades were a steering column from ididit holding a Billet Specialties wheel. There is one more important addition to the interior. After these photos were taken, a local artist created a memorial to Nick’s mother on the passenger side of the dashboard. Suzie was born the same year as the truck in 1953. She was in poor health but always talked about riding in the truck. Unfortunately she died before it was complete. The dashboard tribute is a reminder to Nick that she is still with him in spirit.

1953 Ford F-100 Nick Benoit-07.JPG

The trophy-winning F-100 took about six years of part-time work and there’s more to come. Future plans include an Art Morrison chassis and air suspension along with some upgrades to the powertrain. While the truck is complete, it’s safe to say that this one may never be finished! (And, of course, that’s just the way we like ’em.)

1953 Ford F-100

Nick Benoit

CHASSIS
Frame: Reinforced rails
Rearend / Ratio: Ford 8.8 with 3.73 gears.
Rear suspension: Ford leaf springs with modern coilovers
Rear brakes: Heidts disc
Front suspension: Heidts Super Ride II frontend with 2-inch drop spindles
Front brakes: Classic Performance Products disc brake conversion package
Steering box: Heidts power steering
Front wheels: 15-inch Center Line Warrior Drag Series
Rear wheels: 15-inch Center Line Warrior Drag Series
Front tires: P225/70R15 Hoosier
Rear tires: 31×18.5×15 Hoosiers
Gas tank: 18-gallon fuel cell mounted between the rear chassis members

DRIVETRAIN
Engine: Ford 390 FE V-8
Heads: Edelbrock aluminum
Valve covers: Ford Racing
Manifold / Induction: Edelbrock and 750-cfm Holley four-barrel
Ignition: PerTronix Flame-Thrower II
Headers: Sanderson
Exhaust / Mufflers: 3-inch stainless steel with Gibson mufflers
Transmission: TCI Auto Street three-speed automatic
Shifter: B&M Slap Shifter in a custom center console

BODY
Style: pickup
Modifications: Mid Fifty side glass
Fenders front / rear: Mid Fifty fiberglass Tilt Dog House front end, aftermarket rear fenders
Grille: re-chromed original
Bed: oak planks, stainless steel strips, mini-tubs, louvered rear pan
Bodywork and paint by: Doug Haselet from Cassopolis, MI
Paint type / Color: Prowler Orange metallic paint with Pearl ghost flames
Headlights / Taillights: Mid Fifty headlights, Ford reproduction taillights
Outside mirrors: Mid Fifty
Bumpers: Aftermarket front bumper, rear bumper deleted

INTERIOR
Dashboard: Painted to match
Gauges: Silver and gold Ford Masterpiece five-piece gauge cluster
Air conditioning: no
Stereo: motor music sounds best!
Steering wheel: Billet Specialties
Steering column: ididit
Seats: Mustang buckets with oak center armrest and cup holders, oak custom center console
Upholstery by: previous owner
Material / Color: tan leather
Carpet: tan cotton

Source: hotrod.com

Posted in Ford, Interesting Stuff, Truck

NASCAR and Indy 500 Deaths Cast Shadow On 1964 Racing Season

1964.

American auto racing exploded this season, both figuratively and, alas, literally. The year was barely two weeks old when Joe Weatherly hit a wall at Riverside, becoming NASCAR’s first reigning Grand National champion to die in competition. Another stock-car superstar, Fireball Roberts, was critically burned at Charlotte in May, developed blood poisoning and pneumonia, and succumbed in July. Jimmy Pardue was killed testing tires at Darlington. On Memorial Day weekend, with thousands in movie theaters watching the first closed-circuit Indianapolis 500 telecast and the whole nation listening on radio, the worst accident in Indy history claimed Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. Top Fuel’s casualties included Southern California crowd favorites Boyd Pennington and John Wenderski.

Simultaneously, all types of motorized competition were enjoying unprecedented attention from folks besides traditional gearheads. Racing was rapidly expanding from a participant-oriented, niche activity into mainstream entertainment for sports fans who’d previously followed stick-and-ball games exclusively. The challenge presented to exotic European marques by American-made Corvettes, Cobras, and Cheetahs made sports car racing so appealing that one road course, Riverside International Raceway, was able to pull big crowds to meets staged just two weeks apart this October.

Petersen Publishing Company’s newest slick monthly Sports Car Graphic flourished with subscribers and advertisers alike. Established sister publications HOT ROD and Car Craft expanded event coverage and race-car tech on pages previously reserved for street-car features, go-karts, model cars, new-car tests, and basic hop-up how-tos. Chrysler’s second-generation Hemi and Ford’s answer engine, the overhead-camshaft 427, each earned comprehensive technical articles that uncovered every component. Detroit’s handbuilt “factory hot rods” and dragster teams’ obsession with legitimately breaking the 200-mph “barrier” combined to create unprecedented interest in drag racing. This year alone, Robert E. Petersen’s powerful monthlies were joined on news racks nationwide by two independent titles dedicated to drag racing exclusively: Virginia-based Super Stock & Drag Illustrated and Los Angeles–produced Drag Racing magazine. The straight-line sport also continued to support a pair of weekly tabloids, Drag News and Drag Sport Illustrated.

More so than for any season yet revisited in our series, this year’s highlights cannot be adequately covered in the 10 pages allotted to each Power Struggles installment. More than 3,000 rolls of black-and-white film were exposed by staff photographers and writers between January and December, most of which are preserved in the archives maintained by PPC’s corporate successor, The Enthusiast Network. From those tens of thousands of individual images, we’ve prioritized outtakes that, though rejected by our editorial ancestors, tell 1964’s stories as well or better than the photos printed in major Petersen monthlies—or maybe not. Judge for yourself, now that the hundreds of shots published by HRM’s editors are viewable online. The HOT ROD Club gives Platinum members unlimited access to every page of every issue since Volume One, Number One (January 1948), for a modest annual fee. We go there often for research, from wherever we are, using whatever Internet device is handy. Find details at club.hotrod.com.

Back-to-back explosions of two near-full fuel tanks, each containing about 40 gallons of gasoline, consumed the cars of Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs on the second lap of the Indianapolis 500. Sachs is believed to have been killed upon impact, while MacDonald was ejected and died hours later in a hospital. Speculation about why MacDonald, a rising sports car star known for fearlessness, lost control of Mickey Thompson's year-old racer ranged from rookie inexperience to aerodynamic issues resulting from ill-advised body modifications. A half-century later, an entire book was written about Thompson's two-car team, the several drivers who tested his revolutionary Indy cars, the accident itself, and its immediate aftermath: Black Noon—The Year They Stopped The Indy 500, by Art Garner.
Back-to-back explosions of two near-full fuel tanks, each containing about 40 gallons of gasoline, consumed the cars of Dave MacDonald and Eddie Sachs on the second lap of the Indianapolis 500. Sachs is believed to have been killed upon impact, while MacDonald was ejected and died hours later in a hospital. Speculation about why MacDonald, a rising sports car star known for fearlessness, lost control of Mickey Thompson’s year-old racer ranged from rookie inexperience to aerodynamic issues resulting from ill-advised body modifications. A half-century later, an entire book was written about Thompson’s two-car team, the several drivers who tested his revolutionary Indy cars, the accident itself, and its immediate aftermath: Black Noon—The Year They Stopped The Indy 500, by Art Garner. (Photo: Bob D’Olivo)
The steel barrier bordering Riverside International Raceway's notorious Turn Six remained imprinted by Joe Weatherly's Mercury following his fatal crash midway through January's Motor Trend 500. Either a stuck throttle or brake failure apparently propelled the two-time-defending NASCAR champion into the barrier at approximately 80 mph. Weatherly, who preferred a loose lap belt to the shoulder harnesses already in use by some competitors, died instantly when his head exited the window opening and hit the wall. (See Apr. ’64 HRM & MT.) Shown passing the eerie reminder is third-place-finisher Fireball Roberts, who himself died this year from injuries suffered in a fiery wreck at Charlotte. (See Aug. & Sept. ’64 MT; Jan. ’65 MT.)
The steel barrier bordering Riverside International Raceway’s notorious Turn Six remained imprinted by Joe Weatherly’s Mercury following his fatal crash midway through January’s Motor Trend 500. Either a stuck throttle or brake failure apparently propelled the two-time-defending NASCAR champion into the barrier at approximately 80 mph. Weatherly, who preferred a loose lap belt to the shoulder harnesses already in use by some competitors, died instantly when his head exited the window opening and hit the wall. (See Apr. ’64 HRM & MT.) Shown passing the eerie reminder is third-place-finisher Fireball Roberts, who himself died this year from injuries suffered in a fiery wreck at Charlotte. (See Aug. & Sept. ’64 MT; Jan. ’65 MT.)
Earlier in that fateful Riverside weekend, Mercury teammates Joe Weatherly (right) and Dave MacDonald chatted in the pits. Four months later, MacDonald died after triggering the Indy 500 crash that also claimed Eddie Sachs.
Earlier in that fateful Riverside weekend, Mercury teammates Joe Weatherly (right) and Dave MacDonald chatted in the pits. Four months later, MacDonald died after triggering the Indy 500 crash that also claimed Eddie Sachs.
Riverside's road course was particularly tricky and treacherous for heavy stock cars. Clem Proctor's 427ci Galaxie was an early casualty of the Motor Trend 500, crashing on the 15th of 185 laps. Eddie Gray (98) ultimately advanced from 39th (of 44) qualifying position to finish 12th in Ralph Shelton's year-old Mercury.
Riverside’s road course was particularly tricky and treacherous for heavy stock cars. Clem Proctor’s 427ci Galaxie was an early casualty of the Motor Trend 500, crashing on the 15th of 185 laps. Eddie Gray (98) ultimately advanced from 39th (of 44) qualifying position to finish 12th in Ralph Shelton’s year-old Mercury.
Nitromethane officially returned to NHRA at the season-opening Winternationals, ending the seven-year fuel ban. Jack Williams (far lane) emerged victorious in Saturday's 31-car AA/Fuel Dragster class competition, thereby earning automatic entry into Sunday's Top Fuel Eliminator final round. His semifinal victim was favored Chris Karamesines (near side). Following a frantic overnight trip to Bakersfield to replace the Crossley, Williams & Swan team's wounded Chrysler, Jack returned just in time to meet and defeat Tommy Ivo in Sunday's grand finale, 8.16/193.12 to 8.24/191.48. Williams went on to win June's inaugural Hot Rod Magazine Championships and Fremont's summer regionals, finish second at September's NHRA Nationals (to Don Garlits), and accumulate enough points to become NHRA's first Top Fuel world champ. Car Craft rewarded the team with a comprehensive technical article in the Mar. ’65 issue. (Also see Pomona event coverage, Apr. ’64 HRM & May ’64 CC.)
Nitromethane officially returned to NHRA at the season-opening Winternationals, ending the seven-year fuel ban. Jack Williams (far lane) emerged victorious in Saturday’s 31-car AA/Fuel Dragster class competition, thereby earning automatic entry into Sunday’s Top Fuel Eliminator final round. His semifinal victim was favored Chris Karamesines (near side). Following a frantic overnight trip to Bakersfield to replace the Crossley, Williams & Swan team’s wounded Chrysler, Jack returned just in time to meet and defeat Tommy Ivo in Sunday’s grand finale, 8.16/193.12 to 8.24/191.48. Williams went on to win June’s inaugural Hot Rod Magazine Championships and Fremont’s summer regionals, finish second at September’s NHRA Nationals (to Don Garlits), and accumulate enough points to become NHRA’s first Top Fuel world champ. Car Craft rewarded the team with a comprehensive technical article in the Mar. ’65 issue. (Also see Pomona event coverage, Apr. ’64 HRM & May ’64 CC.)
Chrysler's second-generation Hemi (right) was an instant NASCAR success, powering Plymouths to a top-three sweep in its Daytona 500 debut and snapping Ford's two-year, 10-race undefeated streak in NASCAR races of 500 or more miles. Richard Petty's first big win was also the first major Grand National victory for Plymouth in 14 years. Teammates Jimmy Pardue and Paul Goldsmith finished second and third, respectively. (See May ’64 MT.)
Chrysler’s second-generation Hemi (right) was an instant NASCAR success, powering Plymouths to a top-three sweep in its Daytona 500 debut and snapping Ford’s two-year, 10-race undefeated streak in NASCAR races of 500 or more miles. Richard Petty’s first big win was also the first major Grand National victory for Plymouth in 14 years. Teammates Jimmy Pardue and Paul Goldsmith finished second and third, respectively. (See May ’64 MT.)
His son's breakthrough win followed Lee Petty's victory in the inaugural 1959 Daytona 500. This was the first major auto race ever won by a both a father and son. Lee, who retired from driving not long after recovering from a spectacular crash in the 1961 500 (see Nov. ’16 HRD), became NASCAR's only three-time Grand National champion (1954, 1958, 1959) before transitioning to team owner and crewchief.
His son’s breakthrough win followed Lee Petty’s victory in the inaugural 1959 Daytona 500. This was the first major auto race ever won by a both a father and son. Lee, who retired from driving not long after recovering from a spectacular crash in the 1961 500 (see Nov. ’16 HRD), became NASCAR’s only three-time Grand National champion (1954, 1958, 1959) before transitioning to team owner and crewchief.
The end of the domination enjoyed since the late 1950s by the blown Willys of KS Pittman and engine-builder John Edwards was punctuated by this crushing defeat at Bakersfield's U.S. Gas and Fuel Championships. Bones Balogh (far lane) won the A/Gas Supercharged trophy dash with an unprecedented 9.77-second blast in John Mazmanian's candy-red Willys (at 146.56 mph). Bones also swept both the 1964 NHRA Winternationals and Hot Rod Championships .
The end of the domination enjoyed since the late 1950s by the blown Willys of KS Pittman and engine-builder John Edwards was punctuated by this crushing defeat at Bakersfield’s U.S. Gas and Fuel Championships. Bones Balogh (far lane) won the A/Gas Supercharged trophy dash with an unprecedented 9.77-second blast in John Mazmanian’s candy-red Willys (at 146.56 mph). Bones also swept both the 1964 NHRA Winternationals and Hot Rod Championships .

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The quickest and fastest "stockers" of early 1964 were a trio of blown, injected exhibition cars built by Dragmaster Co. for Detroit promoter Don Beebe, who hired Jimmy Nix (far lane) and Jim Johnson as fulltime drivers. NHRA created the Supercharged/Factory Experimental category specifically for these cars, with one condition: that they race only against each other. Prior to this April appearance at San Diego Raceway, Johnson had clocked high 10s at 141 mph in testing at Lions Drag Strip, at a time when conventional, carbureted A/FXers were running mid-11s and low 120s. The promising program was plagued from the start by track and towing accidents that ultimately resulted in its early, ugly conclusion (as detailed in HRM's May ’09 recollections by Johnson), but not before a national tour inspired countless little-guy racers to bolt on blowers and "turn pro." One of the Chargers survived and has been fully restored. (See July ’64 & May ’09 HRM.)
The quickest and fastest “stockers” of early 1964 were a trio of blown, injected exhibition cars built by Dragmaster Co. for Detroit promoter Don Beebe, who hired Jimmy Nix (far lane) and Jim Johnson as fulltime drivers. NHRA created the Supercharged/Factory Experimental category specifically for these cars, with one condition: that they race only against each other. Prior to this April appearance at San Diego Raceway, Johnson had clocked high 10s at 141 mph in testing at Lions Drag Strip, at a time when conventional, carbureted A/FXers were running mid-11s and low 120s. The promising program was plagued from the start by track and towing accidents that ultimately resulted in its early, ugly conclusion (as detailed in HRM’s May ’09 recollections by Johnson), but not before a national tour inspired countless little-guy racers to bolt on blowers and “turn pro.” One of the Chargers survived and has been fully restored. (See July ’64 & May ’09 HRM.)
Imagine Ak Miller's surprise, drifting through this corner between clueless spectators. The five-time Pikes Peak winner's new Cobra Kit Special was actually a Devin body adapted to an AC Bristol chassis, all powered by a 289 Ford equipped with Carroll Shelby's Cobra engine package. He finished second in the Sports Car class to Bobby Unser's mid-engined Lotus-Climax.
Imagine Ak Miller’s surprise, drifting through this corner between clueless spectators. The five-time Pikes Peak winner’s new Cobra Kit Special was actually a Devin body adapted to an AC Bristol chassis, all powered by a 289 Ford equipped with Carroll Shelby’s Cobra engine package. He finished second in the Sports Car class to Bobby Unser’s mid-engined Lotus-Climax.
For the second straight year, Parnelli Jones topped the Stock Car category in a Mercury Marauder. His record-setting time of 13:52.2 was the first under 14 minutes for a stocker on the 12.42-mile, all-dirt course.
For the second straight year, Parnelli Jones topped the Stock Car category in a Mercury Marauder. His record-setting time of 13:52.2 was the first under 14 minutes for a stocker on the 12.42-mile, all-dirt course.
The five-amber Drag-Tronics electronic system that debuted a year earlier was not well received by open-wheel racers accustomed to flag starters or single-bulb, "instant-green" starts. After John Batto red-lighted during NHRA's Northern California Regional Championship, his pissed-off push-truck driver intentionally chopped down Fremont Raceway's Christmas tree. Eventual national-champion Jack Williams added critical NHRA points by taking Top Fuel Eliminator at a meet that saw Denny Milani come oh-so-close to officially breaking the 200-mph barrier, settling for a new national record of 198.66 in Ted Gotelli's fueler.
The five-amber Drag-Tronics electronic system that debuted a year earlier was not well received by open-wheel racers accustomed to flag starters or single-bulb, “instant-green” starts. After John Batto red-lighted during NHRA’s Northern California Regional Championship, his pissed-off push-truck driver intentionally chopped down Fremont Raceway’s Christmas tree. Eventual national-champion Jack Williams added critical NHRA points by taking Top Fuel Eliminator at a meet that saw Denny Milani come oh-so-close to officially breaking the 200-mph barrier, settling for a new national record of 198.66 in Ted Gotelli’s fueler.

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In August, puddling water, high winds, and rough salt added up to some of the worst conditions ever seen at Bonneville, shortening the course to 6.5 miles. Nevertheless, Burt Munro had come all the way from New Zealand, determined to hit 200 mph with the Indian Scout he'd purchased brand-new in 1920. He wobbled and weaved his way up to 184 mph on a wild ride that hammered loose a lock nut in the rear wheel and, he later learned, broke his back. Despite the pain from what proved to be a dislocated spine, the 65-year-old repaired the bike, made time for the ladies, and was next in line for a record attempt when 70-mph winds prematurely ended the 16th Bonneville Nationals. (See Nov. ’64 HRM & CC, Dec. ’64 MT.)
In August, puddling water, high winds, and rough salt added up to some of the worst conditions ever seen at Bonneville, shortening the course to 6.5 miles. Nevertheless, Burt Munro had come all the way from New Zealand, determined to hit 200 mph with the Indian Scout he’d purchased brand-new in 1920. He wobbled and weaved his way up to 184 mph on a wild ride that hammered loose a lock nut in the rear wheel and, he later learned, broke his back. Despite the pain from what proved to be a dislocated spine, the 65-year-old repaired the bike, made time for the ladies, and was next in line for a record attempt when 70-mph winds prematurely ended the 16th Bonneville Nationals. (See Nov. ’64 HRM & CC, Dec. ’64 MT.)
Ford Walters spent most of Speed Week trying to work the bugs out of the first steam-powered car ever seen on the salt. He reminded HRM's Eric Dahlquist that a steamer had set a land speed record of 127 mph in 1906, but never came close to that speed 58 years later.
Ford Walters spent most of Speed Week trying to work the bugs out of the first steam-powered car ever seen on the salt. He reminded HRM’s Eric Dahlquist that a steamer had set a land speed record of 127 mph in 1906, but never came close to that speed 58 years later.
His youthful pit crew pushed Dick Beith off to multiple attempts at the H/Streamliner record of 144.436 mph, but the swoopy minicar's 44ci Mercury outboard engine topped out at 141.50.
His youthful pit crew pushed Dick Beith off to multiple attempts at the H/Streamliner record of 144.436 mph, but the swoopy minicar’s 44ci Mercury outboard engine topped out at 141.50.
Despite a rare focus flub by chief PPC photographer Bob D'Olivo, his smoky shot clearly illustrates one reason why race reports credited Jack Chrisman with stealing the show at NHRA's Nationals. The other was the noise produced by a supercharged, injected Ford 427 Hi-Riser, the first blown-fuel motor ever installed in a new car. Laughingly classified as a B/Fuel Dragster, the world's original fuel Funny Car clocked low-10-second e.t.’s at 156.31, the quickest and fastest times ever recorded by a late-model "stocker." Prior to Chrisman's conversion, the same body had dominated early season A/Factory Experimental competition. With Bill Shrewsberry driving, the carbureted Comet Caliente won class at the NHRA Winternationals, Bakersfield's March Meet, and Riverside's Hot Rod meet, running 11.30s at nearly 125 mph. (See Sept. ’64, Nov. ’64 & July ’65 HRM.)
Despite a rare focus flub by chief PPC photographer Bob D’Olivo, his smoky shot clearly illustrates one reason why race reports credited Jack Chrisman with stealing the show at NHRA’s Nationals. The other was the noise produced by a supercharged, injected Ford 427 Hi-Riser, the first blown-fuel motor ever installed in a new car. Laughingly classified as a B/Fuel Dragster, the world’s original fuel Funny Car clocked low-10-second e.t.’s at 156.31, the quickest and fastest times ever recorded by a late-model “stocker.” Prior to Chrisman’s conversion, the same body had dominated early season A/Factory Experimental competition. With Bill Shrewsberry driving, the carbureted Comet Caliente won class at the NHRA Winternationals, Bakersfield’s March Meet, and Riverside’s Hot Rod meet, running 11.30s at nearly 125 mph. (See Sept. ’64, Nov. ’64 & July ’65 HRM.)

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The cab-forward pickup truck that accidentally invented exhibition wheelstanding was intended for land-based A/FX competition. Dodge teammates Dick Branstner and Roger Lindamood, this year's NHRA Nationals Stock Eliminator champions with their Hemi-powered Color Me Gone (background), took over the project after Jim Schaeffer and John Collier prepared the body and started on the chassis. Moving back the original, 101-hp Slant Six's location by 20 inches placed fully 52 percent of the weight on the rear wheels—and produced midtrack powerstands that proved uncontrollable until Bill "Maverick" Golden ultimately took the wheel and created a career. (See Dec. ’64 CC.)
The cab-forward pickup truck that accidentally invented exhibition wheelstanding was intended for land-based A/FX competition. Dodge teammates Dick Branstner and Roger Lindamood, this year’s NHRA Nationals Stock Eliminator champions with their Hemi-powered Color Me Gone (background), took over the project after Jim Schaeffer and John Collier prepared the body and started on the chassis. Moving back the original, 101-hp Slant Six’s location by 20 inches placed fully 52 percent of the weight on the rear wheels—and produced midtrack powerstands that proved uncontrollable until Bill “Maverick” Golden ultimately took the wheel and created a career. (See Dec. ’64 CC.)
After GM shut off sponsorship to road-racing teams in early 1963, then suddenly stopped supplying Corvette parts for Bill Thomas Race Cars' Cheetah program this year, it was left to a handful of independents to defend Chevrolet's honor against a fleet of Ford-backed Cobras. The 1,500-pound, 377ci Cheetah ran away from them on straightaways, but was twitchy in the corners. Seattle Chevy dealer Alan Green campaigned this much-modified model extensively in 1964. Allen Grant was driving at Riverside's Los Angeles Times Grand Prix in early October. (See Sept. ’63 & Mar. ’64 HRM; May ’13 HRD.)
After GM shut off sponsorship to road-racing teams in early 1963, then suddenly stopped supplying Corvette parts for Bill Thomas Race Cars’ Cheetah program this year, it was left to a handful of independents to defend Chevrolet’s honor against a fleet of Ford-backed Cobras. The 1,500-pound, 377ci Cheetah ran away from them on straightaways, but was twitchy in the corners. Seattle Chevy dealer Alan Green campaigned this much-modified model extensively in 1964. Allen Grant was driving at Riverside’s Los Angeles Times Grand Prix in early October. (See Sept. ’63 & Mar. ’64 HRM; May ’13 HRD.)
Shown are the same car and driver, at the same Riverside event, demonstrating the Cheetah's unnerving tendency to suddenly swap ends in turns. Allen Grant managed to keep Alan Green Chevrolet's entry intact and make it back to Riverside two weeks later for a nonpoints meet sponsored by Petersen's Sports Car Graphic magazine, but again spun out of contention.
Shown are the same car and driver, at the same Riverside event, demonstrating the Cheetah’s unnerving tendency to suddenly swap ends in turns. Allen Grant managed to keep Alan Green Chevrolet’s entry intact and make it back to Riverside two weeks later for a nonpoints meet sponsored by Petersen’s Sports Car Graphic magazine, but again spun out of contention.
Bob D'Olivo captured 27-year-old Bruce McLaren enroute to winning Riverside's 200-mile qualifying race for the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix, the first victory of a spectacular career. Powered by a Traco-built, all-aluminum Olds F-85 V8, the prototype McLaren-Elva Mark I started on the pole for the next day's main event and led two laps before retiring with breakage. (See Jan. ’65 MT.)
Bob D’Olivo captured 27-year-old Bruce McLaren enroute to winning Riverside’s 200-mile qualifying race for the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix, the first victory of a spectacular career. Powered by a Traco-built, all-aluminum Olds F-85 V8, the prototype McLaren-Elva Mark I started on the pole for the next day’s main event and led two laps before retiring with breakage. (See Jan. ’65 MT.)

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This helicopter got the attention of the starter and starting-line photographers by crash landing at Riverside Raceway. Contrary to a banner evidently left over from an SCCA meet two weeks earlier, this late-October event was actually the season-ending American Road Race of Champions. Amateur drivers qualified by finishing among the top four in their respective classes and SCCA regions. Petersen's Sports Car Graphic magazine sponsored the nonpoints meet that is considered the template for the annual SCCA Championships introduced a year later. (See Feb. ’65 MT.)
This helicopter got the attention of the starter and starting-line photographers by crash landing at Riverside Raceway. Contrary to a banner evidently left over from an SCCA meet two weeks earlier, this late-October event was actually the season-ending American Road Race of Champions. Amateur drivers qualified by finishing among the top four in their respective classes and SCCA regions. Petersen’s Sports Car Graphic magazine sponsored the nonpoints meet that is considered the template for the annual SCCA Championships introduced a year later. (See Feb. ’65 MT.)
In September, Dick Landy converted the ’64 Super Stocker seen at the NHRA Nationals into a prototype for the altered-wheelbase Dodges and Plymouths destined to change the face of drag racing in January 1965. Still sporting primered traces of the bodywork required to relocate its rearend and a straight front axle from an A-100 van, the outlaw combination was a major match-race attraction during a brief Eastern tour at the end of this season. (See Feb. ’65 HRM.)
In September, Dick Landy converted the ’64 Super Stocker seen at the NHRA Nationals into a prototype for the altered-wheelbase Dodges and Plymouths destined to change the face of drag racing in January 1965. Still sporting primered traces of the bodywork required to relocate its rearend and a straight front axle from an A-100 van, the outlaw combination was a major match-race attraction during a brief Eastern tour at the end of this season. (See Feb. ’65 HRM.)

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For multiple reasons, these archive negatives have baffled us for years. Photographer Darryl Norenberg exposed four B&W rolls at a private test session of the earliest SOHC 427-equipped Mustang we've found on film. The fact that he rushed that film to PPC's photo lab on December 31, New Year's eve, indicates some urgency to get exclusive images processed, printed, and into print ASAP, yet none ever appeared in any magazine that we've examined. Externally, the test car looks identical to the fleet of A/FX fastbacks that would debut here a month later for NHRA's Winternationals. Under the hood, however, sits the only single-carb intake we've seen on a Cammer Mustang. Fifty-three years later, FoMoCo expert Rick Kirk reveals that this red 2+2 was the very first SOHC model built. It was hauled from Michigan to Pomona for midwinter testing not possible in the frigid Midwest. Ford racing boss Charlie Gray and drag-team-leader Dick Brannan also made the trip. Because an eight-barrel intake was still being developed by Ford, they made do with a manifold presumably designed—like the cylinder heads—for single-carb NASCAR competition. Both Gas Ronda and Bill Ireland later campaigned this car, which became known as Goldfinger and was ultimately crushed by the factory. The one mystery that Kirk can't solve is why such a hot scoop of a story never made print. Alas, the photographer and PPC's editors took that answer to their graves.
For multiple reasons, these archive negatives have baffled us for years. Photographer Darryl Norenberg exposed four B&W rolls at a private test session of the earliest SOHC 427-equipped Mustang we’ve found on film. The fact that he rushed that film to PPC’s photo lab on December 31, New Year’s eve, indicates some urgency to get exclusive images processed, printed, and into print ASAP, yet none ever appeared in any magazine that we’ve examined. Externally, the test car looks identical to the fleet of A/FX fastbacks that would debut here a month later for NHRA’s Winternationals. Under the hood, however, sits the only single-carb intake we’ve seen on a Cammer Mustang. Fifty-three years later, FoMoCo expert Rick Kirk reveals that this red 2+2 was the very first SOHC model built. It was hauled from Michigan to Pomona for midwinter testing not possible in the frigid Midwest. Ford racing boss Charlie Gray and drag-team-leader Dick Brannan also made the trip. Because an eight-barrel intake was still being developed by Ford, they made do with a manifold presumably designed—like the cylinder heads—for single-carb NASCAR competition. Both Gas Ronda and Bill Ireland later campaigned this car, which became known as Goldfinger and was ultimately crushed by the factory. The one mystery that Kirk can’t solve is why such a hot scoop of a story never made print. Alas, the photographer and PPC’s editors took that answer to their graves.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway's red flag flew for 90-plus minutes while crews removed wrecked cars, cleaned the track, and finally restarted the only 500 ever stopped by something other than rain.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s red flag flew for 90-plus minutes while crews removed wrecked cars, cleaned the track, and finally restarted the only 500 ever stopped by something other than rain.
Starting from 14th position in the fifth row, Indy rookie Dave MacDonald passed five cars in the first lap before losing control exiting Turn Four, hitting the wall, exploding in flames, and spinning across the track in front of Eddie Sachs. MacDonald was ejected and survived, badly burned, for a few hours.
Starting from 14th position in the fifth row, Indy rookie Dave MacDonald passed five cars in the first lap before losing control exiting Turn Four, hitting the wall, exploding in flames, and spinning across the track in front of Eddie Sachs. MacDonald was ejected and survived, badly burned, for a few hours.
A second explosion erupted when Ted Halibrand's Shrike drove into Mickey Thompson's flaming Sears-Allstate Special, both of which were loaded with nearly full tanks of gasoline. Veteran driver Eddie Sachs reportedly died on impact.
A second explosion erupted when Ted Halibrand’s Shrike drove into Mickey Thompson’s flaming Sears-Allstate Special, both of which were loaded with nearly full tanks of gasoline. Veteran driver Eddie Sachs reportedly died on impact.

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Eventual winner A.J. Foyt isolated himself for the duration of the cleanup, either unaware of or unwilling to accept reports of any mortally wounded competitors. Event coverage reported that when he finally glanced down and read the headline across a makeshift edition of the Indianapolis Star handed to him by someone from the newspaper, his expression instantly changed from elation to depression—as evidenced by Bob D'Olivo's chilling sequence.
Eventual winner A.J. Foyt isolated himself for the duration of the cleanup, either unaware of or unwilling to accept reports of any mortally wounded competitors. Event coverage reported that when he finally glanced down and read the headline across a makeshift edition of the Indianapolis Star handed to him by someone from the newspaper, his expression instantly changed from elation to depression—as evidenced by Bob D’Olivo’s chilling sequence.

Source: hotrod.com

Posted in Automotive History, Interesting Stuff

Moving day is almost here!

Come check out our new digs coming soon in Naperville! More inventory, faster shipping and the largest stocking AMD selection in the United States!

Posted in Interesting Stuff

Speedway Motors Week to Wicked Day Five: The Final Countdown!

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Electronics wise, the Performance Automatic 4L70E’s Simple Shift transmission controller was mounted (beneath the bench seat, where we’ve got plenty of room for all sorts of goodies), harnesses routed, and connections integrated with the Chevy Performance LS harness. The final bits and pieces of the chassis wiring, such as the instrument gauge leads, cooling fan, etc. were strung and connected. And while Jason was busy building the AirRaid 4-inch universal air intake and installing the brand-new Speedway Muscle Car shifter (from Lokar), fitted and floor-mounted in the cab, the Speedway crew themselves put the finishing touches on installing and fitting the front sheetmetal clip and hood, front and rear bumpers, and dressing up the doors appropriately (see photos).

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So, what’s left now? Well, throwing a driveshaft in, topping off all the fluids, making sure everything’s good and tight, and the most important job of all: firing the LS3 truck up for the first time, hearing the Hooker/Speedway exhaust (in the process of being installed) roar, and making her go!

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We’ve got the remainder of the day to accomplish all that and more, so stay tuned and see how the final hours play out on the Speedway Motors Week to Wicked 1952 Chevy. www.speedwaymotors.com/featured/wicked

 Source: hotrod.com
Posted in General Motors, How To, Interesting Stuff, Racing News, Truck