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

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GTO 1964-1967

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Hemi

 

 



The Ramchargers

The Hemi was gone but not forgotten by some at Chrysler. Around 1958, a small group of Chrysler engineers formed a club to share their interest in cars in general and high-performance cars in particular. Tom Hoover was one of the men in this group. Having received his masters degree in physics in 1955, he entered Chrysler through the Chrysler Institute and in 1957, went to work in the area of fuel injection. He got to know like-minded engineers over the next year, and what first started out as casual gatherings eventually evolved into one of the most aggressive drag-racing teams in the United States.

"In the cafeteria in Engineering at lunchtime," Hoover recalls, "a number of us who had performance vehicles, which was rather rare in those days among the Chrysler cars, would get together. There were six or eight [of us] initially. Wayne Erikson and myself were the two primary instigators. The idea was to have just a group so that we could go to the drag races together, cooperate and help one another out."

This group called themselves the Ramchargers. At night, they would demoralize other drag racers on North Woodward Avenue in Detroit and on weekends, set records at Detroit Dragway. These engineers had access to the research and development work that had been done on the Hemi and they applied it to their personal cars. Then they concocted a plan to build an altered vehicle for the B/Altered class in sanctioned drag racing, and the High and Mighty started to take shape. The car they used was a 1949 Plymouth Business Coupe, and it was extensively modified in the home garage of Jack Mc-Phearson, one of the Ramchargers.

"Dan Mancini and I built the engine," Hoover says. "Gale Porter over at Dodge got for us a 354 Hemi truck engine that had dropped an exhaust valve. It became the engine for the High and Mighty. It was a joke with us at the time because we had roughly $200 invested in it. We bought a new set of Jahns pistons. Jim Hider had a place over near the Detroit Airport. We came up with a camshaft profile and ol' Jim would do it for a reasonable price. Jeff Baker at Chrysler designed the plenum-ram manifold, and we used reinforced radiator hose for the trumpets. The High and Mighty was the grandaddy of the tunnel-ram manifold."

Getting all this new-found horse-power to the ground was a problem due to the limitations of tires in the late fifties. Troy Simonsen joined Chrysler in 1958 and the Ramchargers shortly there-after. He relates how they solved the problem of traction.

"With the High and Mighty, we sat down and thought about the vehicle dynamics of drag racing. The problem was getting all the traction you can. We wanted the car high, to get weight shift. We had a unique suspension that was intended to transfer the weight equally to both the rear wheels so that the torque of the driveshaft and the tendency to lift the right wheel was offset.That car," Simonsen remembers, "was tall enough that you could crawl under it on your hands and knees, almost."

This impromptu club grew from its rather inauspicious beginnings over the years to race the Max Wedge and 426 Hemi engines, and the Ramchargers became one of the biggest draws in sanctioned drag racing. More importantly, the Ramchargers had a dramatic impact on Chrysler Corporation's racing engine development. The company's racing success and attendant public image were a direct result of the enthusiastic efforts of these engineers. Some of the others who joined the Ram-chargers included Dick Maxwell, Dan Knapp, Tom Coddington, Jerry Donley, HermMoser, Jim Thornton, Mike Buckle and Gary Congdon.

"I doubt that there would have been a drag-racing program withoutthe Ramchargers," Hoover says. "I really believe if the company had made an attempt to do drag racing as they did, I doubt they would have been successful at all if the Ramchargers cornerstone had not been available."

The ability of the hemispherical-combustion-chamber cylinder head to make power would prove itself again when the new Wedge-head engines showed their limitations on the high-banked ovals of NASCAR racing around the country. The Hemi was momentarily eclipsed by the Wedge head until it became clear that something more-much more—was needed.

 


 
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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

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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.