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1966 Batmobile - Auto News and Events

Gearhead News

Photography by Courtesy Of The NHRA

Like the Magnum (with which it obviously shares plenty of parts) and the 300C sedan, the 300C Touring is based on Chrysler's new rear-drive car platform upon which the new Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler Concorde will be based. The concept version of the 300C Touring, like the sedan shown last year, was shown with a 5.7L Hemi V-8 under the hood, though it's likely a V-6 will be standard with the Hemi as an option. Many of the suspension and chassis components (and the five-speed automatic transmission) are proven pieces from the Mercedes parts bin, but the Hemi and its heritage are pure American (if you look past the fact that the Hemi engine is made in Mexico).

The wagon version of the 300C isn't likely to be offered here, as the Dodge Magnum carries that banner in America. But in Europe, where Dodges aren't sold but Chryslers are, wagons attract as much as 40 percent of the buyers in this size car and it makes sense to offer them this 300C version

The 300C and Magnum are about as eagerly anticipated machines as have ever worn the Chrysler pentastar, heralding the return or rear-drive and V-8 power to the company's mainstream offerings. We won't cry about not getting the 300C Touring as long as the Magnum lives up to expectations.

Helping Hummers
Every maker of 4x4s supports the Tread Lightly! program that promotes the responsible use of public lands. So it's no big whoop that Hummer is on board with such a wholesome idea too. But Hummer has gone one step beyond and established "Hummer Helps," which aims to promote socially responsible four-wheeling and included a grant of $100,000 for Tread Lightly! to distribute to clubs helping restore recreation areas that need care and cleaning.

To demonstrate what they have in mind, Hummer helped clean up a trail in Drummond Island, Michigan, where they found this derelict International Travelall to tow out of the woods and back into our collective consciousness. We'd forgotten all about the Travelall... Hey, we left some luggage in one back in 1972 while shuttling to Detroit Metro! Was there a gray American Tourister two-suiter in there?

Racecar Of The Month

Richard Petty's '72 Plymouth Road Runner
When Richard Petty was creating the legend that would lead him to be called "The King," it was mostly in a series of Petty Blue Plymouths. But Petty's last Plymouth added a second color and ushered in a whole new era for NASCAR.

With the factories fleeing in the early '70s, NASCAR needed to attract new sponsorships to the series. In 1971, they snagged the R.J. Reynolds to sponsor the whole series and create the Winston Cup. And every team was going to need a consumer product sponsorship of its own if it was going to thrive in what NASCAR now calls the modern era.

The agreement Petty signed with Andy Granatelli's STP was a state-of-the-art sponsorship. Theoretically, STP "bought" the Petty Enterprises team, but in reality it was a long-term sponsorship agreement intended, at first, to promote STP's then-new oil filters. It was generally assumed at the time to be the most lucrative deal in stock car racing up to that time.

But would Petty now drive an "STP Red" car? In a compromise, the mostly Petty Blue Plymouth wore thick STP red stripes to create a distinctive paint job that would last as long as the sponsorship right through the 1990s.

Petty had a stunningly successful '72 season winning 8 of the 31 races, finishing in the top five 25 times, and in the top 10 a full 28 times. But by the time of Talladega's Winston 500 (the 11th race of the season) Petty was swapping between his trusty Plymouth Road Runner and a sleeker Dodge Charger (both ran 426 Hemi engines). All of Petty's wins came in the Plymouth and he won the Winston Cup that year, but it was obvious that the Dodge was the future. During the '73 season, Petty would be in a Charger at every race.

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