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Commentary by Pete Hagenbuch,
who helped to create many of Chrysler’s most famed engines.
There’s the Viper I was telling you about. And it’s [the cleaning of the dirt from its last race] purely, most if not all, just one of the porters doing a little extra. The front end is still good, though.
You are aware that this was an overall win, not the GT class win. This one, won first in class at Le Mans, I think the same year. That would have been 1990. Both Team Oreca, there was a lot of support too, but those drivers are still doing well.
This is one we let people sit down in [Prowler]. We ask people, please don’t drive it away.
And this is a 1955 Dodge La Femme. It’s not really a flowery upholstery, is it? That’s a ’55, by the way, no fins. It’s a pretty car, I think, and your husband would never ask to borrow it.
Here’s a car [Willys Jeepster]… I don’t understand why this didn’t sell. That looks to me like a really fun car, you know? I would love to have one. It was so much more comfortable [than the regular Jeeps] with almost all the same attributes. I think a little better looking, too.
We used to get to order two lease cars at a time each year. It got to be a pain, ordering two new cars every year. If you believe that, I’ll tell you more. I loved it. Researching the leased cars … I just kind of turned everything else off for a day or two, you know, and what am I going to lease, this year? They don’t do it any more.
The little red one up here [1934 KC] was restored by our guys.
Question: What is the brown thing?
Interviewee: That is a disguised Airflow for testing on the public roads. They didn’t have a proving ground until after World War II. It was supposed to be uglier than hell [to avoid attracting interest]. [audience comment: “It worked.”]
This, I wish I was allowed to open. It’s a Willys St. Clair, with the Knight sleeve valve engine, it’s a V8, aluminum head. It’s the cleanest looking V8 you’ll ever see. Sleeve valves came from from Great Britian, and ended up in a number of British engines in World War II, especially the radials.
[Recording problems intervened at this point and there is some time when the talk becomes inaudible.]
I’ve sat in that Viper in the photograph, there, with my elbow out the window. We have volunteer night, once or twice a year, and they always pick one car that you and your wife can be photographed in.
Gene: Is this a real opening? [in the Viper body]
Yes, it’s to vent engine heat. The prototype upstairs, you can see it still has a bundle of snakes right in there.
Question: What is that thing? That’s a PPG car, isn’t it?
It’s a PPG car which we built. It was a pace car for CART. It was a 2.2 turbo.
Okay, if you guys are faithful readers of Dave’s website, then you know all about that car, right?
1928 Le Mans third and fourth place, behind a Bentley and a Stutz — and if the race had lasted one more minute, the Bentley wouldn’t have finished, so then the Chryslers would have been second and third, and the Stutz that had lost top gear, would be first.
What an exciting race. Chryslers weren’t exciting, they just kept going around and around and around, and everybody else was breaking up, crashing, blowing tires, doing all kinds of crazy things. Read my article! I had a lot of fun writing it.
This was a famous drag racer. Al Eckstrund’s. Boy, those were the years. You could tell the Plymouths from the Dodges from the Fords from the Chevys from the Pontiacs. You knew what kind of car your man was driving.
It seems like NASCAR has infected the whole racing world, including Formula One. Some of the finicky regulations in Formula One just blow my mind. What tires to use, and I don’t like that one, you got to use it anyway for so many laps or something. I don’t mind regulating the fuel capacity, engine capacity, but I don’t much like telling them it has to be a V8. Why does it have to be a V8?
What do you know about the Goldenrod?
Those two kids from California, hot rodders, showed the whole world how it should be done. Before Goldenrod I can think of only one land speed record car whose designer was familiar with aerodynamic drag and the importance of frontal area. That would be the Englishman Jack Irving, who designed Henry Segrave’s Golden Arrow.
Think about all of those ridiculous monsters with two aircraft engines [that preceded the Goldenrod]. The Summers brothers said, “I wonder what would happen if we built a car with practically zero frontal area?” And the only place they screwed up was when they put too many engines in. They made it too heavy. It was still accelerating in third gear [of four] when the car exited the mile timing trap. If it had one less engine, it probably would have been quicker and two less, it might have been perfect.
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