Factory drag cars, the gems born out of the intense rivalry between General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler Corporation, continue to captivate enthusiasts with their rarity, exorbitant value, and the audacious combinations that defined their era. This blog article delves into the mesmerizing world of factory drag cars showcased at the Savoy Automobile Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, paying homage to the golden period from 1963 through 1968 with the Hot Rod Hoarder.
Homologation and Stock Eliminator
What makes factory drag cars so special is their origin tied to the homologation requirements set by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) for inclusion in the Stock Eliminator categories. These cars weren’t just powerful; they were purpose-built racing machines, and the exhibit at the Savoy Automobile Museum provides a glimpse into this exciting chapter of automotive history.
The Spectacle at Savoy
Recently, the museum curated a Factory Drag Cars exhibit featuring nine extraordinary vehicles representing the pinnacle of drag racing innovation during the specified years. While not an exhaustive list, the exhibit covered key models and even included some exceptional muscle cars that stood out from the crowd.
The Factory Drag Car Lineup
- 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z11: With only 50 produced, this 427ci beast known as “Wally Bell’s New York Shaker” showcased Chevrolet’s prowess in drag racing.
- 1963 Pontiac Catalina “Swiss Cheese”: A rarity with just 14 units produced, this 421ci marvel driven by Arnie Beswick left an indelible mark on drag racing history.
- 1964 Ford Fairlane “Thunderbolt”: Boasting 100 units with a 427ci engine, this Thunderbolt owned by Steve Honnell was a force to be reckoned with on the drag strip.
- 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Lightweight: Larry Davis’s Galaxie, one of 50 produced, combined lightweight design with a powerful 427ci engine for a winning formula.
- 1965 Plymouth Belvedere A990: Steve Atwell piloted one of the 101 units, featuring a dominant 426ci engine, making it a formidable contender in drag racing.
- 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS Z16: While technically not a factory drag car, this rare 396ci powerhouse showcased Chevrolet’s commitment to high-performance vehicles.
- 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle 300 COPO: A special order with only one unit produced, this 396/425hp, M22 Muncie 4-speed, and 4.88:1 gears made it a standout even though not designed for drag racing.
- 1967 Mercury Comet Cyclone: With 60 units produced and a roaring 427ci engine, this Comet Cyclone was a testament to Mercury’s pursuit of drag racing excellence.
- 1968 Dodge Dart LO23 “Hemi Dart”: Known as “Mr. 4 Speed,” Herb McCandless piloted one of the 80 units produced, featuring a 426ci engine that solidified its legendary status.
The Factory Drag Cars exhibit at the Savoy Automobile Museum offered enthusiasts a rare opportunity to witness these iconic vehicles with their hoods up, experiencing the full glory of their design and power. As we reflect on these legends, it becomes evident that the golden era of factory drag cars continues to leave an indelible mark on the hearts of automotive enthusiasts, reminding us of a time when innovation, power, and speed converged on the drag strips of the 1960s.