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      Muscle Cars: Muscle Cars: Racing - Hemi-Flying Elephants
    Posted on Tuesday, October 12 @ 21:06:22 UTC by Cars
      Muscle Cars Flying Elephants Street Hemi. A car name that means power and intimidation. Much has been written over the years about these incredible beasts, some of it true, some incorrect, some hyperbolic, but all contributing to their myth and legend.

    Part of the lore surrounding the Hemi, which was known as the Elephant, is based on the results of early road tests. It didn't matter much which magazine you picked up—Car and Driver, Car Life, Super Stock & Drag Illustrated, or Car Craft—the Hemi would usually hold the crown for quickest quarter-miler (Cobras and Corvettes excluded). While Dodge expected the '68 Charger to be a world-beater in NASCAR, just the opposite turned out to be true. It wasn't nearly as aerodynamic as the engineers had hoped, and it won only five races that year. To improve aerodynamics, a number of changes were made and a special 1969 model known as the Charger 500 was introduced. Aerodynamic aids included a flush grille with exposed headlights, and a flush, sloping rear window replaced the standard unit. Further differentiation came from a bumblebee stripe wrapped around the trunk and rear fenders with the 500 designation and more aerodynamic wind-shield moldings. A headline in the April 1969 issue of SS&DI read "Caution: This Car Could Be Hazardous to Your Mind." The magazine's reviewers were impressed by the Hemi Charger's performance (13.79 at 104.51), but lamented that the 4-speed car was virtually impossible to launch on standard street rubber. While between thirty-two and thirty-five Charger 500s were built with the Hemi, about 392 (U.S. sales) were built with the 375-horse 440 Magnum. They are seldom seen today. The Charger 500, however, was just a stop-gap measure. Ford was involved in the development of its own aerodynamic warriors. It developed the droop-nose Torino Talladega and the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II for use on the highbanks, where these cars were generally 5 mph faster than the Mopar. Like the Charger 500, both of the Ford Motor Company vehicles had flush grilles with exposed headlights. Unlike the nose on the Dodge, however, the noses on the Ford and Mercury cars were extended some 5 inches and dropped down. With the better aerodynamics inherent in Ford's fast-back design, it was back to the drawing board for the Chrysler engineers. What they came back with was perhaps the most unusual looking street car since the Tucker. The Dodge Charger Daytona had a wing that measured close to 24 inches in height (it worked lower, but this was how high if had to be in order for you to be able to open the trunk), a pointy steel nose cone with hideaway headlights that extended the body nearly 18 inches, and the same flush rear window used on the Charger 500. The front fenders had scoops on them that were functional on the race cars, allowing the teams to lower the bodies without having the front tires rub. While the Ford teams had been pitching a shutout on the long tracks (one mile or more in length) against the 500, things changed once the Daytona debuted. In qualifying at the new Talladega super speedway, "Chargin"' Charlie Glotzbach pushed his Daytona to a 199.466 mph lap—the fastest ever to that point by a full 9 mph. When a strike before the race (over tire-safety concerns) kept most of the big-name pilots on the sidelines, Richard Brickhouse found himself behind the wheel of Glotzbach's ride. He also found himself in the winner's circle that day, ahead of Jim Vandiver in a Charger 500 and Bobby Isaac in another Daytona. (Isaac scored the first "nonstrike" super-speedway win in a Daytona at the 1969 season finale.) Production for the Daytona was either 501 or 503 (U.S. sales), and approximately fifty more were sold north of the border. Most were standard 440 4-barrel cars and the remainder were Hemi-powered. As noted earlier, Ford's answer to the need for increased aerodynamics on NASCAR's super speedways was answered by the Torino Talladega and the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II. Since Ford had to play by the same rules as Chrysler, it too was required to build five hundred each of the Talladega and Spoiler II for the street. (In the case of the Mercury, Ford Motor Company did not live up to this requirement.) Unlike the Daytona, the Ford and Mercury aerodynamic cars were not that dramatically different from their standard fastback siblings. While the Ta ladegas had rerolled rocker panels to let the cars be lowered on the track, they were bone stock from the A-pillars back. The only interchangeable parts on the Talladegas and Spoiler IIs were the grille and bumper. The nose extensions were made of two stampings welded together, some of which were done at Holman & Moody. These were grafted onto shortened standard fenders. All the Talladegas were done at the Torino's Atlanta assembly plant and the Mercurys were built in their usual Lorain, Ohio, plant. You could only get 428 Cobra Jet (not Super Cobra Jet) power in the Talladegas; some—and they were the only non-drag pack Fords built that got them—had oil coolers. They also came standard with staggered rear shocks. All were equipped with C-6 automatics with column shifters and 3.25 gears in a 31-spline axle. The street Spoiler IIs were outfitted for less performance. The sole power plant was the 290-horse 351 4-barrel. All had the FMX automatic transmission and 3.25 gears, but not the heavy-duty axle. The most labor-intensive piece on the car was the front bumper. It was made from a heavily reworked Torino rear bumper that was cut three times, rewelded, narrowed, filled in, and rechromed. Every Talladega had a cloth-insert bench seat and the only available option was an AM radio. Color choices were Presidential Blue, Royal Maroon, and Wimbledon White. Spoiler IIs came through either as white-and-blue Dan Gurney models or white-and-red Cole Yarborough models. Befitting their more luxurious Mercury image, they came standard with a 1-vinyl bench interiors (Gurney's were blue and Yarborough's were red). The decals that came with the package were in the trunk awaiting dealer installation. Finally, the Spoiler II's rear wing was unique to that car. According to its records, Ford produced a total of 745 Tallodegas, including prototypes, but it is believed that many more were actually produced. To homologate them for NASCAR, Ford claimed it built 513 Spoiler II Cyclones, but no less an authority than Ralph Moody himself said that Mercury did not make nearly that many. The actual number is believed to be 352 or so, and only half of that number are known to exist.
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