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1965 Dodge Coronet - The Wheelstander

By , Photography by Mike Yoksich

“It’s a real crowd-pleaser. When I launch the car at the track, you can see the whole undercarriage of the car. The spectators all run to the fence to see it.” Wally Peterson

If there were a formula to build a wheelstanding car, it would go something like this: Start with a long car (say about 209.7 inches, bumper to bumper), move the engine back in the chassis 8 inches, shift both axles forward relative to the body at least 10 inches, and relocate the battery to the rear of the trunk (adding a second battery on the opposite side of the trunk doesn’t hurt, either). If your engine is torquey enough, you also want to add a pair of castors just in front of the rear bumper. If you don’t, be sure to have some spare bumpers in stock, as you’ll be replacing their ground-away remnants often.

Wally Peterson, owner of this altered-wheelbase Coronet, says wheelies are just a twitch of the foot away in his Mopar. “It does big wheelstands,” he tells us, as matter-of-factly as if he were describing what he ate for dinner last night. That may just be the understatement of the year. With just 1,400 pounds on the front axle, there’s not a lot of weight to lift, and the 528 inches of Hemi provide more than adequate grunt to accomplish this task. It also helps that the rear wheels are moved forward a total of 15 inches from their stock location, leaving a lot of trunk to act as a counterweight, aiding and abetting those huge wheelstands he so nonchalantly describes.

Wally has owned this car for about three years. He bought it as a rolling shell, but the altered-wheelbase work and paint had already been done. He just needed to fill the spaces where the engine and transmission needed to go. That was an easy task for him; his day job is a tool and die maker, so assembling a big-displacement, big-horsepower Hemi was a walk in the park. A reverse-manual valvebody and transbrake in his 727 TorqueFlite also contribute to the big show at the starting line.

When he’s not knocking down 11-second passes at the strip, he’s putting in as many street miles as weather permits. “People aren’t used to seeing cars like this on the street; they’re all pointing out of their minivan windows. I’ve had people sit through green lights at an intersection, waiting for my lane to get the green so they can hear my car go by,” he says. Wally is happy to accommodate, too—sometimes he’ll even pull the wheels for them as he goes by.

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Car Craft