1949 Plymouth Coupe (1959 Version) "The Ramrod"
Competition # 325
This is the very first "team car" for the Ramchargers. After forming their club in 1958 and helping each other build and race the many cars within the club, the group decided that they could do much better if everyone contributed their time and money to one team car. Based on the limited funds available they began brainstorming to decide what to purchase. Had to be a Chrysler product. Hemi Engine. And built to race in the Altered Class, in order to run against and BEAT the best Chevrolet powered cars at the track! Additionally, even though the popular cars at the track were typically from the 1930's, The Ramchargers wanted a Post-War model. This would best represent Chrysler in the most modern way possible. These factors considered, the Business Coupe models from Dodge and Plymouth from 1948 and 49 checked off their boxes better than anything else. The decided that the Plymouth had better aerodynamics over the Dodge, so that's what they sought out.
It only took a few weeks from that point before Jack McPhearson spotted one. After Jack convinced the woman to pull over to talk about her car, he proceeded to talk her right out of it and sell it to him. He and Maurie Leising picked it up soon after, at her house in Highland Park for the King's Ransom of $50.00!
The car went home with Jack to his rental home in Madison Heights. Though quite primitive in terms of luxuries like heat and good lighting, Jack's 2-car garage would become Ground Zero for an amazing saga to come.
Among the long list of engineering innovations were "Tuned-Length" Intake and Exhaust manifolds, the worlds 1st Tunnel-Ram, and a 4-Link rear suspension. The intake, known then as "Sonoramic" laid the groundwork for intake manifold designs still used by every automobile manufacturer in the world, to this very day! Same holds true for the exhaust. Through the group's unprecedented research and development, their exhaust system created power in ways nobody had ever seen before. Looking beyond the wild exhaust headers protruding from the front fender wells, and the giraffe-esq intake, the car itself was something for the eyes to behold. Due to the weight of the Hemi and the size of the car, it was calculated that in order to get the best possible weight transfer and put power to the pavement, the engine's crankshaft centerline should be a staggering 36" off the ground. In order to achieve this, lifting the engine inside the bay would only accomplish a fraction of the task. The car itself needed to be elevated. The guys built the trans tunnel for the interior out of a cut-in-half hot water tank. The frame was cut and shortend 10", in order to move the rear axle forward. The body also required some cosmetic surgery and was cut, chopped and welded up, giving the RamRod a look all its own.
In an effort to get it done in time for the NHRA Nationals, the rear fenders were left off and the car remained in its hideous blue-green primer, with bright red frame-rails, as it headed out to the world's stage at Detroit Dragway.
With its crude looks, the car and the team were the laughing stock of the Nationals, as they arrived. Until it fired! Immediately, the mood changed and the general consensus was that the Ramchargers brought the big guns! After making a could easy shake-down runs to make sure the car worked well, Jack McPhearson made his first real pass and boggled everyone's mind. By the time the event was over, the RamRod, at its maiden race, had set the NHRA Record of 109.75 MPH, on a 13.37 E.T. pass (which was only a tenth off of that record as well).
The rest of the year continued down this path, with the RamRod getting faster and faster as the team kept working out the bugs. By winter, 1959, the car was disassembled in Skip McCulley's driveway, with the chassis being buried by a blanket of Michigan Snow, while the engine spent the cold months at the warm residence of Tom Hoover, for a freshening up and a new custom designed camshaft. 1960 would bring a whole new list of ups and downs for this car and the team.
CURRENT STATUS / LOCATION:
DESTROYED/SCRAPPED Warren, MI Junkyard (1961)
The original Tunnel Ram intake from this car was saved by Jack McPhearson and eventually landed in the hands of Bob Lees, who along with a couple dozen CEMA members and the technical help of a handful of original Ramchargers Team members, the High "& Mighty II was built. This car is a magnificent replica of the original version from 1959. When not traveling to high-caliber shows and events, the High & Mighty II spends its time on display at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan.
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