"The Bullet moves like it's propelled from the barrel of a high-powered rifle, with a similar effect on the competition." And with those words, CC staffer (and current Hot Rod editor) Ro McGonegal unleashed the fury of the Silver Bullet to unsuspecting CC readers in the pages of the Sept. '71 issue.
For many of you who may be too young to remember or know about it (including this author), the Silver Bullet was quite simply the baddest street machine on the Detroit scene when that story broke loose. What is it about this car thats bestowed with a name that carries such impact? By make and model its a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX that basically served as a rolling Chrysler R&D testbed when it was owned and driven by Jimmy Addison. By chance, or more likely by design, this Hemi-powered GTX became the most feared warrior on the Detroit street-racing scene during the early 1970s. Motivated by a hulking 487-inch Hemi, the Bullet was a 10-second street car--and as much or more of a true street car than anything thats being heralded as such today.
The best part of all about the Silver Bullet is that it's back in a big way. No longer just sitting in a corner to fade away, the Bullet has been totally restored from the ground up by its current owner, Harold Sullivan, and it serves as the flagship for his exceptional collection of classic Mopar muscle (CC, "Mopar Heaven," Feb. '97).
Originally a Chrysler Engineering test car, the Bullet was painted blue and equipped with a 375hp 440. Used as a test mule at the Chrysler proving grounds, it had several cam, carb, intake, and header combinations to test the RB wedge engine. After its stint as a test mule, the car was placed in the hands of Addison, who managed a Sunoco station on Woodward Avenue. He ran the station with owner Ted Spehar, who also worked with Chrysler at the time. Because Addison was fairly active in the Detroit street-racing scene and his tuning skills were evident with his 426 Max Wedge '62 Dodge, he was chosen to be the keeper of the Belvedere, which received Hemi power for its excursions deep into the heart of the most serious street racing of the era.
Although the Belvedere was not an original Hemi car, Addison started with a lightweight Hemi K-member, allowing the elephant to fit. The cars first Hemi used a 1968 block with a 0.020 overbore, which gave it a total bore of 4.270 inches. A 487-cube displacement was achieved with a 4.25-inch stroke CSC crank. Using stock connecting rods and 786-gram TRW pistons, compression was 12:1. Oiling the beast was a Ramcharger oil-pump kit and a custom-built 10-quart pan with a Chrysler-engineered dual oil pickup. Oil level was measured by viewing a transparent vertical tube on the outside of the pan. Clearly, proper lubrication was of vital importance to the R&D crew.
The intent of this car was evident in the top of the engine, too. Chrysler R&D coughed up a set of A-990 aluminum heads for the car and had them prepped by former Chrysler engineer Bartley Kenyon, who did all the tricks to make them breathe like gangbusters. A Racer Brown STX-24 solid-lifter cam spec’d out with a 0.590-inch lift and a radical 322-degree duration. Obviously, idle vacuum was not really an issue. The first induction system (later ones used a Weiand tunnel-ram intake and a pair of Holley Dominators) included an early-type magnesium cross-ram intake and a pair of Holley 780-cfm carbs. The exhaust system was truly unique with the use of four Cadillac mufflers that provided the best compromise of backpressure and noise reduction. Addison always drove the car on the street with full exhaust so as not to attract any unwanted attention.
H slicks and street-tire pressures at about 8 psi (6 psi on the dragstrip), the Bullet was a mid-10-second car, running 10.60s at 132 mph.
Albert rods, and Venolia pistons that, with a pair of ported Dart aluminum heads, produce a 12.5:1 compression ratio. A Cam Motion roller cam moves 2.22/1.90-inch intake and exhaust valves and works with Competition Cams valvesprings and Mopar Performance Stage V roller rockers. The new engine packs a 475-inch wallop and breathes through an induction setup that features the same kind of '65 cross-ram intake and Holley carbs as the original combo did. An engine-mount plate takes the place of standard Hemi motor mounts. Another 727 TorqueFlite turns the same 83/4-inch rearend now fortified with Moser axles.
The finished car shown here has been totally recreated, from the Cragar S/S wheels and cross-ram intake to the silver paint and small American flags on the lower front fenders. While the car has been updated with many modern components, there’s no doubt that the legend of the Silver Bullet is all about this actual car. The most awesome aspect of the car’s mystique isn’t how quick it was, how good Addison was at keeping it at the top of its game, or that Sullivan has lovingly restored it. It’s the simple fact that the Silver Bullet (a name coined by Ro McGonegal and the CC story specifically) was nothing less than a factory-backed car purpose-built for street racing. It’s obviously a case in which two entities (a large automaker and street racing) will never ever cross paths again.
The cross-ram, 475-cube Hemi powers the Bullet today. Current plans call for Harold Sullivan to build a second car and use this engine for motivation. The Silver Bullet II would be an all-out race car, and this engine, which uses a Mopar Performance block and Dart heads, would power it.
Seats from an A-100 van keep things light inside. Addison put the Bullet on an extensive diet with the result being about 500 pounds trimmed from the original 3,700-pound figure. Modern pieces here include an Auto Meter tach and a Turbo Action shifter. Addison used to test parts for B&M in the Bullet’s TorqueFlite trans including a tiny-for-the-time 8-inch torque converter.
The car's original blue color remains in the trunk, but this GTX will always be Silver to the world.
Former CC staffer Ro McGonegal named Jim Addison's Hemi-powered GTX the "Silver Bullet" in a Sept. '71 CC story, and the name stuck. The stock appearance of the car is just a bit disarming--which was one of several ways Addison had the competition fooled. A pair of American flags at the lower fenders signify the patriotic nature of the car's civic duty to blow the doors off anything that dared challenge it.
A block plate holds the engine in place in the '90s version of the Bullet. The water pump is powered electronically.
Several magazine stories appeared on Jim Addison's Hemi GTX, including those in Hot Rod, 1001 Custom and Rod Ideas, and Car Craft. It's this Sept. '71, CC write-up, though, that brought the most notoriety and a name to the Silver Bullet--one of baddest street machines of all time.
The car's suspension in race (or is it street?) trim included Slant Six torsion bars. They were set all the way down and were rendered pretty much inoperative, which allowed the frame to rest on the snubbers. Although not ideal strictly for street driving, it allowed the front end to rise better on acceleration. At the time, a set of worn-out shocks completed the easy front-end-lift concept. Today, though, the car has Competition Engineering shocks designed for drag racing. Also visible here is the custom oil pan and the tie rods for the steering that pass through the middle of the pan.
Addison sneakily flared the fenders to accommodate a 12-inch-wide tire. To fit the tire under the B-body GTX, he cut vertical slices up the quarter-panels, pulled out the area until there was enough clearance, then welded the gaps shut. From there, a little body work restored the stock appearance.
In the interest of saving weight, almost all bolt-on body panels were fiberglass, including the doors, the front fenders, the hood, and the trunklid.