Iconic Plymouth Belvedere drag racer leads Mecum auction

One of just six built, this crowd pleasing drag racer is being sold by Mecum Auctions in January 2019

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Plymouth is well known for its NASCAR conquering Superbird, but it’s also got history in another area of American motorsport – drag racing. In 1965, the company built six acid-dipped (as slimming as it sounds) altered-wheelbase versions of the Belvedere, not a car you’d immediately think of for drag racing. But it was marketable, and that’s what mattered to Chrysler, which owned Plymouth.

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This special, which ended up tearing up the drag strips and will go to sale through Mecum Auctions next January in the Kissimmee 2019 sale, was called the A/FX. It was driven by Lee Smith in the 1960s, one of the most colourful drag racers of his time, and he has signed the dash of his famous racer.

With the intention of going as fast as possible in a straight line, weight saving elements include plexiglass side windows (fixed, of course) and back window, fibreglass panels, doors, bumpers and dashboard. Weighing in at 2800lb, this car practically floats thanks to its powerful 426ci Hemi V8 engine, which has aluminium heads and a magnesium intake manifold.

The altered wheelbase, with the front wheels practically touching the grille, was to combat the combination of a lot of power and a light car, making sure the weight bias was further forward so it would launch off the line well. Being 400lb under the minimum weight for its drag racing class meant Plymouth could also utilise ballast to help in the all important launch stage.

After several occasions of floor strengthening, a habitual problem in drag racing, the car retired and induced into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, then auctioned with Mecum two years ago as part of the 2017 Kissimmee sale, but failed to meet its reserve. It carries the same livery as ran in its last racing appearance, and is one of the star lots for the Kissimmee sale, taking place on January 3 - 13.

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