1964 Dodge 330
Competition # 1053
As the 1964 drag racing season arrived, something else was happening down south. NASCAR was getting quite popular, and Dodge wanted to make a statement. The reached out Ramchargers member Tom Hoover, who was the head of engine development at Chrysler. The put him on a mission to build an engine to dominate NASCAR and win (among others) the Daytona 500. Harking back to a previous engine from a few years back, Hoover knew there was a lot more to be developed from the old Hemi of the 50's. With new, larger displacements and current technologies, (most of which were created by the Ramchargers), Hoover believed a new version of Chryslers first true performance engine would do exactly what Chrysler wanted. And more!
Known now, universally, as the "Godfather of the Hemi", Tom Hoover went to work creating the most legendary internal combustion engine of all time. Past AND Future. The new 426 Hemi, based loosely on the current 426 Max Wedge engine block had plenty of new features for strength and power. But the crown jewel was the big Hemispherical Combustion Chambered Cylinder Heads. Slipped into a handful of Dodges and Plymouths in early 1964, Chrysler absolutely obliterated Ford and GM at Daytona. Finishing 1, 2, and 3, the Hemi proved its power. And of all engine failures at Daytona, not a single one was a Hemi. Thus, proving its durability. Yes, the Hemi had arrived.
Hoover had accomplished his mission. Well, sort of. As much as Hoover was good at his job, he was passionate about his team. And just because Chrysler commissioned him to build a monster for NASCAR, well, at no point did anyone tell him that he could not unleash that monster on the dragstrips across America. On the heels of the Hemi's proven pedigree, development quickly began to come together on a Drag Race version of the monster that Hoover created.
Obviously, when Ramcharger Tom Hoover is the chief engineer in charge of creating the most iconic engine the world would ever know, the very first car to be born with one was destined to adorn some candy stripes and the Ramchargers name on the sides. This 1964 Dodge 330 Sedan would be that car. Outfitted in our standard issue colors, stirpes and logos, this car was revered to be the pinnacle of Drag Racing. But when it was first taken out for testing, the Wedge cars were actually faster. The Hemi made over 100 horsepower more on the engine dyno than the Wedge motors did. But for some reason, that power just didn't translate to the dragstrip. Further testing and development saw dyno numbers climb well past 550 horsepower. Figures that were unfathomable, just a couple years before. But track testing simply wasn't showing it. It was then, that fuel system specialist, Gary Congdon, professed that the problem was in the carburetion. He claimed that not only were the Carter Carbs, wrong and needed to be replaced with Holley's, but also that their configuration on the intake manifold was wrong. They needed to be rotated 90 degrees, to properly move fuel through them when the car changes its position in relation to the ground on a hard pass. This is something that you cannot simulate on a dyno. The problem with his theory, however, was the linkage to operate them. When turned sideways, there was no way to hook up the linkage to make them function together. But Congdon insisted that he could make it work, given the opportunity. His wish was granted, his mission successful, and with that, Tom Hoover's Godchild came to life as the ultimate engine in Drag Racing.
At the end of April, 1964, Detroit Dragway hosted its Division 3 grand opener. The Hemi was ready. But the driver was not. Herman Moser had recently retired from the Ramchargers, leaving only Jim Thornton, who was the typical driver of the Super Stock (Max Wedge) car. So, dear friend of the Ramchargers, Roger Lindamood (of "Color Me Gone" success and fame) was tapped to run the Hemi car at Detroit Dragway. And what do ya know? Roger and #1053 not only won the class Eliminator, but also set the class record for A/FX!
The newly perfected carburation on the Hemi made it the monster that Hoover knew it would be. Taking over duties in Match-Racing (which became the Ramchargers' most efficient way to make money) Car #1053, now with new driver Mike Buckel behind the wheel, was virtually unbeatable all through 1964. Running in the A/FX class at national events, records feel at the feet of this car like roses to an Opera singer.
As 64 came to a close, and a new beast being developed across town in Dearborn at Ford, the Ramchargers knew that 1965 was going to be an uphill battle. It was time once again to sell the current cars and start prepping the new cars for the season to be. The 1053 car was sold to Eddie Smith. Renamed the West Virginia Hemi (the first of many to wear that name), Smith enjoyed great success with this car in 1965. Smith, the true Drag Racer that he was, would have to have been blind to not see what was happening with the Ramchargers (and all the other factory-sponsored Mopars) in 1965. The new "Altered Wheel Base" cars being campaigned across the country were incredible. Chopping the E.T.'s by not tenths, but by as much 2 seconds! Cars were going really fast by the end of 1965. So, in 1966, Eddie Smith followed suit and altered this car. He used the successful recipe written by the Ramchargers and moved the front and rear wheels forward and modified the body and wheel wells to fit. Now, an A/FX Altered Wheelbase Car, the West Virginia Hemi continued the terror at the dragstrips that it did 2 years prior with its former Candymatic Livery.
CURRENT STATUS / LOCATION:
Indianapolis, Indiana. RESTORED
After Eddie Smith was done with this car and moved on to other cars, as the sport continued to evolve away from the "Altered" cars, the former Ramchargers 1053 passed through a few hands, until it ended up in the very impressive garage of Drag Race collector, Mike Guffey in the early 2000's. Guffey tracked this car down, bought it and went through a very extensive and expensive restoration, to "reverse" alter the body and suspension and turn it back into the configuration it drove on in 1964. After all the steel surgery was completed, an official license was purchased and the iconic stripes and names were reapplied to the beautiful white paint. 1053 has returned to its former glory for the world to once again admire and enjoy.
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