Whether or not Chrysler already had these FX Hemi Hardtops under construction as a hedge against the possible rejection of the AWB package by the NHRA - or if they were hurriedly assembled in a last minute thrash - is unknown at present. What is known is they were based on the Hardtop body shell but with a full compliment of driveline and lightweight sheet metal panels borrowed from the A990 Sedan Super Stock package.
But while the A990 Sedans followed the NHRA Super Stock rule book and rode on a standard wheelbase (minus one-inch thanks to their specific leaf springs) and had steel body parts (albeit thinner than stock), the four FX Hardtops were free to take advantage of the NHRA’s slightly more liberal rules for Factory Experimental. Among the perks were fiberglass front clips and doors with full door frames - and no vent windows. The side windows were made of Plexiglass. But the key detail was a provision for a 2-percent wheelbase reduction – much like the FX rules for 1964. It wasn’t much, but Chrysler definitely shuffled things around on these four cars and they have come to be known by Hemi historians today as the 2-percent cars.
The four 2-percent cars delivered fairly good results and the magazine, television and live exposure was certainly worth the effort even though they were hardly all-conquering. In Round One Al Eckstrand’s Golden Commandos Plymouth fell to Gas Ronda’s SOHC Mustang and Jim Thornton’s Ramchargers Dodge was taken out by Len Richter’s SOHC Mustang. On the upside, Roger Lindamood’s Color Me Gone beat Dick Brannan’s SOHC Mustang and Tommy Grove wheeled the Melrose Missile ahead of Arnie Beswick’s SOHC Comet.
In Round Two, Bill Lawton’s Tasca Ford SOHC Mustang beat Lindamood’s Dodge but Tommy Grove’s Melrose Missile Plymouth got a bye-run. For the Semi-Final, the Melrose Missile ran a losing 10.96 to the Tasca SOHC Mustang’s 10.93. The final round was supposed to pit the SOHC Mustangs of Lawton and Len Richter but a broken axle for Richter gave Lawton the bye run for A/FX gold. The upshot is one of the Plymouths technically made it to the final pairing so it was a pretty good showing.
But their day in the sun was brief – less than a week. As a result, the 2-percent FX Hardtops are often overshadowed by the exploits of the wild altered wheelbase funny cars and Super Stock A990 Race Hemis. None exists today in its original configuration. Most were returned to Detroit and were given the full altered wheelbase treatment. They lived on as part of the 1965 factory FX fleet. There is some talk that one or two may have been stripped of significant parts then destroyed due to advanced metal fatigue in the acid dipped body shell. Can any MoparMax readers shed some light on which cars were rebuilt into AWB rides and which – if any – were scrapped?
All that remain of Chrysler’s weekend long 1965 NHRA A/FX foray are vintage photographs – and the ghostly reminder used on the cover of every AMT ’65 Coronet box ever made. Yes, that artist’s rendering of the Ramchargers Candymatic and Roger Lindamood’s Color Me Gone depicts the Dodge half of the 2-percent fleet.
As a model car builder and collector the AMT 1965 Coronet kit gives me goose bumps. But the historical significance of the box art is only part of the puzzle. The plastic parts inside and the instruction sheet prove that AMT got plenty of direct assistance from Dodge – and maybe even members of the Ramchargers themselves - when the kit was conceived.
I recently went on an eBay rampage buying up every single one that was offered. In a six week blood feast I bought ten of them, only getting out-gunned once on a mint-in-box example that went haywire in the closing minutes. If I’d have been home when that auction closed, I’d likely own it today. I need help. In total, my six week Coronet binge cost me $438.47 including shipping, a small price to pay for so much history.