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145 Inch w.b. Front Engine Dragster


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While I build mostly hot rods, customs and straightline racers, I’ve gone since the end of 2019 without build a drag competition subject, instead building a couple of sporty cars, a Ferrari 250 LM and a Lotus Seven, in 2020. So this project is kind of going back to my roots. The inspiration was a chute pack rear body offered on eBay by Joe Curtis at Fremont Racing Specialties. My favorite length chassis front engine digger is on either side of 150 inches for the wheelbase. So, because Joe also offers a variety of different length dragster nose shells I ordered a short length to match. I’ll still need to remove a bit of it for it to fit. My idea is to build a fairly fancy full bodied fuel dragster of the sort seen at the various dragstrips around the L.A. and Orange County area in the mid-sixties – fast, loud with lots of chrome and polish and slick paint and lettering.

I started with the late 60’s very long (210 inches) chassis found in the various AMT digger kits such as the Tommy Ivo FED, the Too Much, the Young American and the Garlits Wynnscharger. My usual approach to shortening it is to remove 2 bays just aft of the nose, resulting in about a 150” wheelbase depending on which front axle setup I choose. The Fremont chute pack body, however, is designed to fit the MPC Ramchargers legs-under (driver’s legs pass under the rear axle) chassis instead of the legs-over design of the AMT frame. To get the body to sit right I needed to relocate the rear axle forward of the vertical frame tube instead of behind it (yellow circle vs. red “v” in panel A of the composite photo below). The result is the 145” chassis I’ve got here.

The motor is the 392 Hemi from the AMT Bantam Blast kit with an Enderle Injector from the Revell Tony Nancy Double Dragster kit which also offered up its front axle. The injector scoop is from Altered States Models. The whole project will be a sort of “greatest hits” of my favorite dragster parts.

The photos below are a mockup held together with white glue. The bodywork is pretty far along although the cowl area stills need some massaging to fit right. The chassis, too, is well along, and the motor half built, so, except for the (I hope) fancy paint job and decals, this project should move pretty quickly.

Thanx for lookin’,
B.

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Hello Bernard, good that you're back to the roots.

Especially good you're doing the famous 150" FED.  You got my attention a few years ago with the 150" look, I'll readily admit total agreement.  The golden look is 150", give or take a few.

The idea of chopping the long body is a good one, small enhancements, front laced wheels and a good motor foundation and you're on your way.  I like this one.

Mike..

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Posted (edited)
On 4/1/2021 at 12:12 PM, Mike Williams said:

Hello Bernard, good that you're back to the roots.

Especially good you're doing the famous 150" FED.  You got my attention a few years ago with the 150" look, I'll readily admit total agreement.  The golden look is 150", give or take a few.

The idea of chopping the long body is a good one, small enhancements, front laced wheels and a good motor foundation and you're on your way.  I like this one.

Mike..

Thank you Mike. As we both know, despite their enormous significance in hot rod history, dragsters, especially front engine dragsters, are less appreciated these days than the competition cars that succeeded them, the "door slammer" muscle cars and super stocks, and the pure racing machines, the altered wheelbase and funny cars that evolved from them. But that doesn't prevent us from appreciating the shear grace and purity of these minimalist tube-frame exercises in mechanical efficiency, especially in the period before they grew unwieldy as they literally were stretched out to and beyond 200". In other disciplines these might be compared to an F104 or a Lotus 25 or a pre-CFD America's Cup craft.

Edited by Bernard Kron
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Posted (edited)

Thanks Guido.

I got the motor and cockpit area assembled. The cockpit is straight out of the box from the AMT Ivo/Too Much kits with minor adjustments to account for the rear axle having been moved forward. A shortened tie rod will accommodate the radically shortened wheelbase. The motor is the Dodge 392 Hemi from the AMT Bantam Blast kit including the blower and the valve covers. The Enderle barn door injector is from the Revell Tony Nancy Double Dragster kit and the blower pulleys and drive belt are the Ivo/Too Much kit with the idler pulley bracket adapted from the Tony Nancy kit. The short zoomie exhausts are from the AMT Don Garlits Wynn’s Jammer and are temporarily installed for alignment purposes. They will be replaced by a more aggressive set of 3D printed zoomies I have on order from 3D Model Specialties on Shapeways (see inset of an earlier model I did using them). The body work has had the white base coat applied and, after curing, I’ll mask out the scallops and then apply the Testors Purplicious main color coat. This will be the subject of my next update.

Thanx for lookin,
B.

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Edited by Bernard Kron
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Thanks Marcos!

I got the basic paint scheme laid down. The base color is white done by applying three coats of Duplicolor Clear over Duplicolor white primer. Then the panel edge stripes were created by masking the white areas I wanted to show. Finally Testors Purple-Licious metallic purple was applied. The other item completed was the roll over hoop and brace which were made by bending some aluminum tubing to shape. The tubes will be polished with Simichrome. Right now there’s a fair amount of cleanup to be done on the paint scheme to straighten up the edges and deal with any minor paint overspray.

Next up will be designing a the graphic text for the team/entrant and car names and having them printed. They will be white. I also apply various trade decals as appropriate. Then the whole thing will be clear coated and then it’ll be time for final assembly, adding the suspension and steering details, windscreen, front wing, proper zoomies, etc.

Thanx for lookin’.
B.

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Super looking!  The purple and white paint scheme really pull the whole thing together and so period accurate.  I very much like your front spoked wheels, they look neat.  I'm looking forward to how you tackle the lettering and decals/details.  Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

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Thank you, Dan!

I’ve been working on the decal, which, as was usually the case on this era of diggers, is very simple. Basically the name of the car. There will be trade decals, as well, but I’ll probably use stock decals from kit sheets unless I have some serious fit problems. My challenge right now is to find a service that will print decals for me from my art since I’ll need to do white and gold.. I recently taught myself the rudiments of vector graphics software and I can supply master art in any of the commonly used formats ( i.e Adobe Illustrator .ai file, Corel Draw .cdr files, or generic vector formats like .svg). In the meantime I’ve decided to change the cowl panel to a slightly wider and longer one. It won’t change the appearance of the car but the fit will be much better. This work should coincide with the arrival of 3D printed zoomies and, hopefully, a decal printing service. Below is a Photoshop mockup of the basic decal scheme laid into the earlier photos I posted. The yellow edges in the mockups will be gold. Once I get over the decal supplier hurdle there will be little to do except for final assembly.

Thanx for lookin’,
B.

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