TITLE: Muscle Car Used Car History Vehicle History Report at Auto Lemon - Used Car History Check

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FIREPOWER, FIREDOME and RED RAM

 CARS > MUSCLE CARS > FIREPOWER, FIREDOME and RED RAM

Used Car history 
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GTO 1964-1967

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Hemi

 

 



Racing Success

Until the advent of the Chrysler 300 in 1955, Chryslers were not the car of choice for circle-track and endurance races. During the early fifties, however, Briggs Cunningham was the most visible privateer who believed in the Chrysler Hemi V-8 and campaigned his cars, most visibly at LeMans. Cunningham had raced various automotive concoctions during the forties. In 1950, his team won tenth and eleventh places overall at Le Mans in mildly modified Cadillacs.

Cunningham's first attemptwith the Hemi at Le Mans was in 1951, after founding the B. S. Cunningham Company with partners Bill Frick and Phil Walters in West Palm Beach, Florida. Chrysler was willing to help as much as it could, and the high-performance development work on the FirePower found its way into his C Series race cars. The cars were uniquely Cunningham, using an American V-8 engine in a chassis of his company's own design, as was the body. The striking blue-and-white C-2s that hit Le Mans were heavy but they were fast—152 mph down the long Mulsanne straight. The following year the sanctioning body of Le Mans issued a new requirement, stating a manufacturer had to build a minimum of twenty-five cars in order to race as a production car. Cunningham built exactly twenty-five C3 and C4 roadsters and coupes combined to qualify.

In the 1952 Le Mans race, Cunningham drove twenty of the twenty-four hours and finished in fourth place, all the more remarkable since he was in his forties. Team Cunningham also raced the cars in America over the next several years as well, before closing his company in 1955.

On the NASCAR circuit, Oldsmobile and Hudson seesawed for dominance during the early fifties. That all changed in 1955. The Bob Rodger-conceived Chrysler 300 won twenty-seven of the forty-five races that year, winning the Grand National title.

Factory racing of the Hemi might have taken other forms if the A311 engine program had reached fruition. Harold Welch remembers how Chrysler almostwent racing at Indianapolis. "This engine," he says, "was first used to test tires for Firestone, then Goodyear. The A311 was made with large ports and roller tappets. John Plainer and Don Moore were deeply involved with the project. They used a Hilborn fuel-injection system, which was common at Indianapolis at that time. That car was used for many miles of high-speed testing and it was able to easily run at regular Indianapolis speeds.

"As part of the dedication of the Chrysler Proving Grounds in June of 1954," Welch continues, "the first four finishing drivers of that year's Indianapolis 500 mile race were invited to bring their winning cars to try them on the new highly banked 4.7 mile oval track. All of the drivers held their cars wide open through the turns, which was the first time any of them had had an opportunity to do so. Jack McGrath was the fastest, with an amazing 179 miles per hour. Even more amazing was that the Chrysler-powered Kurtis Kraft tire-test car then ran 182 miles per hour!

"It showed this Hemi with its push-rod valvegear could definitely compete very nicely with the Offys. The rules at Indianapolis permitted stock-block engines to have that much displacement, but then they changed the rules to 272 cubic inches. We shortened the stroke to get 272 cubic inches, and that's how they entered the race the next year, but didn't quite make it. It's interesting that at 331 cubic inches, it was so successful they changed the rules."

It wouldn't be the last time a sanctioning body would change the rules again because of the Chrysler Hemi's inherent performance superiority.

 


 
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FIREPOWER, FIREDOME and RED RAM

 CARS > MUSCLE CARS > FIREPOWER, FIREDOME and RED RAM


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TITLE: Muscle Car Used Car History Vehicle History Report at Auto Lemon - Used Car History Check

Cars Directory : Auto, Automobile, Automotive, Car, Cars, Vehicle, Vehicles, Used Cars, New Cars, Used Car, New Car Price

Site Description: Car Consumer Reports and Consumer Guide on automobile, brake, buying car, car care, car cost, car safety, cooling system, drivetrain, electrical, exhaust, emission, fluid check, fuel system, ignition system, lubrication system, suspension and steering. Offers Free VIN Check, VIN Check

Cars Topics: car consumer reports on automobile, brake, buying car, car care, car cost, car safety, cooling system, drivetrain, electrical, exhaust, emission, fluid check, fuel system, ignition system, lubrication system, suspension and steering.