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1966 Batmobile - Auto News and Events

Gearhead News

Photography by Courtesy Of The NHRA

Harley Working
Last month all we had was an illustration of the upcoming '04 Ford Harley-Davidson F-Series Super Duty. Now we have actual photographs and even some facts to report. We really dig for this stuff.

The new orange-and-black Harley pickup is based on the F-250 or F-350 4x4s, and features 18-inch wheels, unique badges (naturally), chrome step bars, a chrome exhaust tip, and all sorts of trim on the inside including "spun metal" instrument faces, black leather seating, and a load of Harley-Davidson logos. Power comes from the usual selection of Ford Triton V-8 or V-10 gasoline engines or the 6.0L turbocharged PowerStroke diesel V-8. Base price starts at $40,690 with the first 1,000 buyers eligible for a drawing to win a matching '04 Harley-Davidson FLSTFI (pronounced just the way it's spelled) Fat Boy motorcycle.

There will also be an F-series offered in the more traditional gray-and-black paint scheme, but they're not part of the contest to win the motorcycle. What a gyp.

Race Car of the Month
Sox & Martin Pro Stock 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'CudaPhoto courtesy of Bob Plumer/Drag Racing Memories, 717/259-9341, drmemories@adelphia.net

When people talk about the "legendary Hemi 'Cuda" it's this car that created most of the legends-the first NHRA Pro Stock champion.

When Pro Stock began, the cars that ran in the class were still very stock. These early cars still used a stock roof, rear fenders, decklid, and floorpan. And the engines actually came installed from the factory. That gave the Mopar contingent a big advantage going into the 1970 race season because there's never been a better drag-racing engine than Chrysler's 426 Hemi.

The Sox & Martin team was already dominating Super Stock with its '68 Hemi 'Cudas when the NHRA created Pro Stock to take advantage of these four-speed, 9-second machines. The '70 was a new body style, and manager Buddy Martin and chief mechanic Jake King were two of the most methodical men on Earth. The result was domination-a car clearly better than the rest of the early Pro Stock field driven by Ronnie Sox, whose reputation as "Mr. Four-Speed" was well-earned. He won three of the seven NHRA Pro Stock events in 1970 to take the first championship, and then won six races in 1971 to win the championship again.

The Hemi 'Cuda's obvious superiority led NHRA to futz with the rules, creating a series of bizarre weight formulas that resulted in Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins' tube-frame small-block Vega heralding the future (and taking the wins) during the '72 season. When the Lenco transmission came into the series in 1973, Sox's lightning shifting skills were no advantage at all.

Sox & Martin's race cars were always gorgeous, but none were more seductively beautiful than their '70 Hemi 'Cuda. And it was this car's obvious star power that was a big part of Pro Stock's early success.

Back To The Futurliner
Back when progress was actually something the country believed in (that was the '40s and '50s), GM had a caravan of 12 purpose-built buses touring the country displaying the technological wonders yet to come. Most of the futuristic displays in the "Parade of Progress" have long ago been superseded by our own reality, but at least some of the "Futurliner" buses have survived and one of them, fully restored, made an appearance during the 16th Annual Eyes on Design Auto Exhibition at the GM Technical Center in June.

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