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Auction: Motown Missile

by David Zatz on

The Motown Missile, in its 1973 Plymouth Duster incarnation [shown above as restored with a 1976 grille], will be auctioned by Phil Stalling Classic Cars on May 31 2014, in Newark, Ohio (thanks, Mike Lalouette).

The Irv Beringhaus car, built by Ken Fuller and Dick Landy, was recently restored by Kevin Christner, who had planned a series of match races for charity; Mr. Christner died in January 2009, and plans to race the car against contemporary Mopar drag cars, to raise money for charities, fell apart.

As described in the press release, the 1973 Motown Missile was successfully raced by Mike Fons; Chrysler engineers optimized the car aerodynamically, using tufts of cotton, with one person in a chase car photographing the Missile from the outside, and another inside photographing the gauges. The hood scoop was actually tested using an electronic data recorder with sophisticated testing equipment, legacies of Chrysler’s moon-rocket program.

The Missile succeeded the 1972 Plymouth Barracuda-based Motown Missile. The next car in the series was to be the “wire car,” a 1974 Duster whose weight reduction program was so severe the body had to be wired together. Further cars were called “Mopar Missile,” reportedly to avoid conflicts with Motown Records.


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