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1966 Batmobile - Auto News and Events

Gearhead News

Photography by Courtesy Of The NHRA

10. 1:11:25-"Hey man, this thing's clean." Brian O'Conner expresses his admiration for the Yenko without noting that the left header is disconnected from the rest of the exhaust system.

Race Car Of The Month
The Parnelli Jones and Bill Stroppe "Big Oly" BroncoOff-road racing was a purely funky affair in the '60s and early '70s. Drivers would enter everything from crusted-over Edsels to motorhomes in races like the Baja 1000, and the winners would often be driving some homebuilt contraption that appeared cobbled from plumbing supplies, duct tape, and improvisational engineering. Then came the Big Oly Bronco-a real race machine that revolutionized off-roading.

Parnelli Jones, whose storied driving career includes winning the '63 Indy 500, had been introduced to off-road racing during the late '60s but found the stock-based, four-wheel drive vehicles of the time didn't respond to his aggressive driving style. So, enrolling fabricators at Bill Stroppe's Long Beach, California, race facility, he decided to build a two-wheel-drive tube-frame '69 Ford Bronco that could, it was hoped, even beat the motorcycles.

Using a Twin-I-Beam front suspension, a fiberglass Bronco body subtly channeled 3 inches, a massive wing built atop the rollcage, and a 351 V-8, the "Big Oly" (Olympia beer was the major sponsor) Bronco dominated both the '71 and '72 Baja 1000s and ran consistently well in almost every other race it entered. This paved the way for how off-road race machines would be built from then on.

The New Faces of Hemi
[Photos 116-0402.SCUP 4A through 4G sent via e-mail]Everyone has seen the concept versions of the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300C, but now we can finally show you the production versions of these cars that will reintroduce rear-wheel drive to mainstream U.S. car buyers and could reignite the legend of the street-going Hemi.

The silver 300C sedan and the red wagon Magnum aren't much different from the concepts. The wheels are slightly smaller (the production 300C runs 18-inch wheels instead of the show car's 20s), but otherwise, except for some trim changes, they look exactly the way the concept cars suggested they would.

All 300Cs and Magnums will be rear-drive with the base cars receiving a version of the 2.7L V-6 that's currently used in the Concorde where it makes 200 hp. There will likely be one or two other V-6s offered, and at the top will be the 5.7L Hemi V-8 making 340 hp at 5,200 rpm and 365 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Combine that with a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick manual shifting, and these large cars should offer impressive musclecar performance.

Known as the LX cars within DaimlerChrysler, they share roughly 20 percent of their mechanical design with Mercedes-Benz products, including the all-independent suspension design. Four-wheel ABS controlled disc brakes will be standard along with traction control and electronic stability control. All-wheel drive will be optional on the Magnum should any buyers want to pretend it's really an SUV and not a station wagon.

Why isn't there a sedan version of the Magnum-or, conversely, a station wagon version of the 300C? Rumor is that a revived Dodge Charger is coming based on the LX and that car (it's a four-door, but designed to look coupe-like) will fill the role of Magnum sedan. Meanwhile, a 300C wagon will be sold in Europe, but over here the Pacifica fills that role for Chrysler.

Durango-a-Go-Go
The second-generation Dodge Durango SUV is now in production. It's bigger, it still has a solid rear axle in the back (now on coil springs), and it's available with a standard 210hp, 3.7L V-6 or either the 230hp, 4.7L SOHC V-8 from the Jeep Grand Cherokee or a version of the Dodge Ram's 5.7L, OHV Hemi V-8 rated at 335 hp. When we can drive one, we'll tell you more.

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