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The Original Factory Drag Cars That Inspried The Dodge Demon

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By Dave Ashton

The Dodge Demon is starting to usher back some of the American drag racing culture of the 1960s, but it wasn’t the first to be a factory ready drag car. All the manufacturers back in the muscle car golden days provided performance options for their streetcars, ready to hit the track. Racing on Sunday, sold on a Monday, so the best on the street and the track accounted for everything.

The quarter-mile race was king and the acid test to this day, so it would be good to highlight three vehicles from back in the day which were street legal and came straight from the factory. Arguably, GM’s COPO (Central Office Production Order) vehicles are some of the most infamous and are now some of the most rare and expensive muscle cars around today as powerful drag cars, but the vehicles below are equally as rare and proficient on the strip.

1963 Dodge 330 Max Wedge Lightweight
Ramchargers were the result of Chrysler engineers continuing to tweak their cars after hours, which led to some great dragstrip racers. The Max Wedge Lightweight was built to race with an aluminum front end, trunk located battery and a 426 cu. in. 415/425 bhp OHV V-8 engine depending on the compression ratio. The car also features a three speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, live rear axle, semi-elliptical leaf springs and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.

All this was good for sending the 3,300 pound car down a quarter-mile track around 11 seconds. Rarities such as this one have sold at auction for $110,000.

1963 Chevrolet Z11 Impala 427

Ordered through the RPO (Regular Production Option) system, you could get your hands on a 1963 Chevrolet Impala with the Z11 options which gave you a 427ci cast-iron W-series OHV V8 engine with a compression ratio of 12.5:1 and 435-lbs.ft. of torque at 3,600rpm. This went through a Borg Warner T-10 four-speed transmission with 4.11 gears.

Weight reduction was key here with the stripped out car having no sound deadening or other creature comforts. Aluminum was used for things like the bumpers, fenders and hood, which gave a quarter mile time in the low 11 seconds. You can read more about the car here.

1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

Ford replaced as much as they could for weight saving using fibreglass for the bumpers, doors, front fenders and hood. Plexiglas was used for the side and rear windows and everything that could be stripped out was done to save weight. Each car also had a tag in the glove box saying that it was a ‘competitive car’ that didn’t me Forbes regular standards for fit. A basic way round complete weight saving.

The result was born from the brainchild of Bob Tasca you added a Ford 427cu. big block V8 engine with an underestimated 425 horsepower available at any Ford dealer. The engines had 2 Holley 4 barrels, Ram induction, 12.0:1 compression ratio. Drive ratios were 4.44 for automatics and 4.58 for manual transmissions. this made the car good for 11 second quarter mile runs straight from the factory. It was enough to give the likes of Dick Brannan, Gas Ronda and Butch Leal the NHRA Manufacturers Cup.

If you check out this listing at Barrett Jacksons, this example went for $242,000 back in 2012. An incredible machine even today.

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