Factory Lightweight Drag Cars

The drag wars of the 1960s produced some radical, factory-approved door-slammers: lightweight body panels, altered wheelbases and lots of injector stacks. Longtime Ford dealer Nick Smith has collected many of these machines, including icons like the 1964 Ford Thunderbolt, 1963 Chevy Impala Z11 and 1964 Plymouth Hemi Savoy. His stash also contains Dick Landy’s altered wheelbase 1965 Dodge Hemi Coronet A/FX drag racer plus two Mustangs campaigned by Gas Rhonda, including his long-wheelbase car, one of six built by Holman & Moody, Ford’s official race car constructor.

We recently visited Smith’s South Florida collection. It’s basically all the wow packed into one unassuming building.

Here’s the news peg regarding these cars: Several of them will be auctioned by Mecum in just a few days. As Mr. Smith explained, it’s time to thin the heard. He also admitted that gets more enjoyment from the thrill of the hunt.

Not all of the cars in his collection will cross the block, but many will, including both Gas Rhonda Mustangs as well as the Landy Dodge. Estimate for that one, by the way, is $750,000 to an even $1 million.

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/3/18 3:41 p.m.

And I realize that this is off our usual beat but, yeah, it was cool to see. So much aluminum. So much fiberglass. So much pushing the boundaries of the rule book. :)

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
1/3/18 4:33 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

And I realize that this is off our usual beat but, yeah, it was cool to see. So much aluminum. So much fiberglass. So much pushing the boundaries of the rule book. :)

I don't mind in the least......body check altered wheelbase check Hemi with stacks hell yeah (pssst DBd13 check these stacks wink) runs on dead dinosaurs check........David S W thanks man!!!

Ransom
Ransom PowerDork
1/3/18 4:41 p.m.

The Thunderbolt and lightweight Galaxie have both spent a bunch of time on my mind. Cool stuff.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/3/18 4:53 p.m.

The gentleman who owns the cars raced from 1960 until 1970, I believe. He didn't run one of these cars, but he was there. It was neat hearing about the scene's evolution from someone who was there. Yeah, we all love the concept of unlimited rules, but how long can it survive? Still, glad that these cars were saved. 

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
1/3/18 5:50 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

The gentleman who owns the cars raced from 1960 until 1970, I believe. He didn't run one of these cars, but he was there. It was neat hearing about the scene's evolution from someone who was there. Yeah, we all love the concept of unlimited rules, but how long can it survive? Still, glad that these cars were saved. 

yeah and not on that site 'ran when parked' cheeesh!!!

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
1/3/18 5:57 p.m.

I love A/FX cars. Such a wild part of drag racing history.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/3/18 6:07 p.m.

Those are rad!

eastpark
eastpark Reader
1/3/18 7:12 p.m.

Yup, that is definitely from in the golden age of drag racing. Also, If you haven't seen Don Garlits place in Ocala - that is another really cool way to spend a day. 

te72
te72 New Reader
1/3/18 11:39 p.m.

I like to think that this is the sort of thing that would have graced the pages of GRM if it had been around in the mid 60's. Drag racing was the hot thing back then. May not get our interest as much as curves and cones do, but it's still cool. There's a reason I subscribe to Hot Rod too. ;-)

 

I could almost swear that I saw a beat up Thunderbolt on the Wyoming Craigslist a couple years ago. Went so far as to email the seller to have them check into potential providence on the car, on a hunch.

GTXVette
GTXVette Dork
1/4/18 7:22 a.m.

Lucky enuff to have been there in the early 60's, the track Local to me was Dallas Ga.   Arnie Beswick / Pontiac sponsored 63 Tempest "Tameless Tiger" Stayed 2 doors down when Touring the South, Way Awesome Time, But a Bud Today is the son of  Ford driver Phil Bonner "Daddy Warbucks" Also Don Nicolson was from the Decatur Ga.  The "Strip Teaser" was from Ellijay And don't forget the Platt bros. Hubert and Huston From the southside/Covington area I think.   The other day David W. Spoke of working at Automod And I remembered About the Atlanta Speedshop , Where Big Time Drag racers were In and Out Regularly, At That Time I was Messing with Round Track and had Gotten away from Sports Cars, Never was a Big Drag Fan , But did go to a Drag Show in Key West Once!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/5/18 4:59 p.m.

The sale has started. A Nissan Pao sold for $6050 today--a Beat fetched the same amount, and I wish I hadn't seen this $4950 Cappuccino. The lightweights cross the block on Friday, Jan. 12.

plain92
plain92 New Reader
1/5/18 6:21 p.m.

When I heard about the Dodge Demon it reminded me of the Hurst Hemi Dart from the 60s. 50 years ago and it looks like it ran 9s with some post-dealer tuning.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 MegaDork
1/5/18 6:52 p.m.

I was a drag racer long before I learned that cars can turn.

 

Awesome collection. 

wheels777
wheels777 SuperDork
1/5/18 7:49 p.m.

Sweet!!!!

ckosacranoid
ckosacranoid SuperDork
1/6/18 11:16 p.m.

What is the story on that white wagon setup for drag racing?

Recon1342
Recon1342 Reader
1/7/18 12:27 a.m.

My holy grail car (which I’m certain I’ll never own) is one of the Chrysler A990 cars. Gorgeous, noisy, and fast!

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