Lost and Found Funny Cars...
Often times the lineage of "found" funny cars is difficult to trace. Sometimes folks claim to have a certain flopper because the body/chassis combination appears to be the same as the original; claims that are often "wishful thinking," difficult to prove if true and sometimes even fraudulently made. Cars often changed hands many times and subsequently paint jobs were changed, bodies/chassis altered, etc., making exact identification in later years difficult if not impossible. The intent in this page is to show 70s funny cars found in barns, garages, fields, etc., and where possible, the car's history back to it's "glory days." Where identification isn't possible... well, just enjoy a lost treasure found!
This picture showed up in the late 90s. Ex-Pisano & Matsubara Vega body from around the 74-75ish time frame is apparently languishing away in a garage in SoCal, but owner seemed reluctant to provide too many more details.
Update 7/02 courtesy of Paul Katata: Regarding your latest "Lost and Found" Funny Car, I remember seeing that exact Pisano & Matsubara Vega body for sale at one of the first Long Beach Hi-Performance Swap Meets I ever attended (10 -15 years ago?). Some guy had it sitting on the back of an old 68-69 Chevy pickup truck. Asking price: 150 BUCKS!!... Yeah, I'm still kicking myself! I remember the body being virtually complete. Red anodized tin (faded), front and rear tubular structures ("trees"), and possibly the Lexan windshield and back glass. The paint was faded and checked, but you could make out every detail making it very easy to duplicate were you to attempt a restoration... It was as if the body was lifted off the car and put aside for 20 years or so! Unreal!
From up Washington state way comes the ultimate 70s funny cars "lost & found." Tucked in western WA (don't ask cuz I'm not telling exactly where it is to protect the owners privacy) it is probably best characterized as a "funny car bone yard." Rumored to have up to 15 funny car bodies, inventoried cars include Tom McEwen's "Coors" Corvette (see below, since sold), Mike Miller's Olympia Beer Mustang from the early 80s, Rich Roger's "Miss Debra" Duster from the mid-70s (left picture, far left), So Cal's Clarence Bailey's King "Boogaloo" Cougar (right photo, upper), Kenney Goodell's Mustang from the late 60s (right photo, lower) as well as a complete Camaro and Pinto flopper from the early 70s, misc parts, etc. etc. (Photo at left courtesy of Perry at PF Flyer Racing, right photo courtesy of Ralph Reiter)
Currently residing in Indiana is the ex-"Purple Magic" Vega of Bob Simmons. Simmons campaigned the car in New England during 75-76; photo at left shows the car in it's 76 color scheme (trust me, you don't want to see this car in color... and the lettering does in fact say "Purple Magic"). In the latter 70s Simmons drove the New Englander Monza F/C and T/F entries. Muscle car collector Mike Guffey currently owns the car (easily ID'ed by it's "V" body latch in the front grille). Mike feels the car, although campaigned by Simmons in the mid-70s, was built in approx 73 due to the chassis technology. He also believes car likely started as a flat nose Vega, was upgraded to a slant nose. He is looking to get any pre-Simmons history on the car for restoration. If you know the background on this car contact me and I'll pass it along to Mike. (Photos and info courtesy of Mike Guffey, photo at left by Norman Blake)
"Just returned from CHRR, where I found some oldies but goodies at the swap meet. The Revellution / English Leather Dart (the red one) $17,500 rolling. The Kingfish $2600 as is, somewhat rough tin. John Hoven's Mustang $10,000. The black paint is flaking off the tin, exposing the purple anodizing. The guy with the Cuda & Dart rolled out Sunday morning with both cars. The Hoven car was also still present when we left Sunday night, which was when everything was over. I doubt any were sold. The Cuda was for sale last year too." (Photos and info courtesy of Ralph Reiter)
Wearing a color scheme from the early 80s is the "currently under restoration for the NHRA museum" Corvette of Tom McEwen. Through research and phone calls folks restoring the car were able to determine the body is the same one Goose's funny car wore when it won the 78 NHRA Nationals wearing English Leather colors. Original Sarte chassis for the car still needs to be located... if you know the chassis' location, a similar Sarte chassis or the current whereabouts of Jamie Sarte drop me an e-mail and I'll pass it on to the folks doing the restoration. (Photos by Al Rawlings, courtesy of Glenn Collins)
One of the more unique "Found" floppers is the "Durachrome Bug" of Warren Gunter from the early 70s. The car is currently in the hands of the guy that originally bought it from Warren Gunter. He resold the car, and after a few years got it back. When he went to get it, it was overgrown with blackberry bushes and in sad shape. The new owner (3rd guy) put in a small block and bracket-raced it for a while... then put it out to "pasture" literally. When the original buyer guy got it back, he nursed it back to health and installed the blown BB that's in it now. The only mod that was done was the rear-end went from solid mount to sprung. The car is currently located in the NW, registered as a home-built dune buggy (note the "headlights" on the front fenders) and occasionally street driven. The original headers remain on the car with screw-on mufflers. A "wishes for now to remain anonymous" buyer is currently looking to buy the car and restore it. (Photos and info courtesy of Ralph Reiter and Richard Hernandez)
Currently located in Oregon is an interesting compilation of 70s Mickey Thompson funny cars rolled into one. According to Pat Blair at Thompson's Motorsports Inc in Eugene, "The reason the car is here is because Lyndy Thompson owns the shop. She has no plans to do anything with the car, it was her dads and so she plans on keeping it (Don't ask... it's not for sale). She also has four other cars of her dads; the Revelleader is the only drag race car. The cost is too much to try and restore any of them. Pictured is what the car looks like now which is what it looked like when she picked it up in LA from her dad's estate in 1990. One thing to note on the Revelleader is the chassis it is sitting on is from Mickey Thompson's 1970 Maverick funny car which had been wrecked. When we got the chassis it was twisted so bad I had to cut it apart to straighten it out." (Photo and info courtesy of Pat Blair)
From the mid-70s into the new millennium comes Bob Taylor's Hemi Hoss Mustang. According Tiny Eglit who recently purchased the car... "I put an ad on Nitronic for "71-73 Mustang Funny wanted" and Paul Fuess from Texas e-mailed me that he had complete car that he found and was selling the body; I made him an offer and he took it. The car is painted just like it was when it raced in the 70s, the paint has a few little cracks but nothing major. We are having a chassis built at Valley Chassis Works in Poughkeepsie, New York. We also have the "Bob Banning Dodge" Challenger body from 1970... the chassis that Valley is building is for the "Banning Dodge", the "Hemi Hoss" and an ex-Mike Burkhart Camaro body all of which will be interchangeable on the chassis. Look for updates on HELLFIRERACING.com."
From Paul Fuess, who sold Tiny the car, "The first driver of this car was Michael Cox, after he stepped out Paul Gordon drove it till the car was retired some where around 1974 or so. I found it in a shop in Dallas where it had sat in the same spot since it was retired. I bought it from Bob Taylor. I am using the chassis to build a period correct fuel altered to run in ADRA nostalgia events." Tracing the car's history to it's origin, Cogo Eads reports... "Bob Taylor's Hemi Hoss was the last Boss's Hoss that belonged to John and Cogo Eads. We purchased the car from Art Ward in Colorado. It was built by Don Hardy for Art but he never finished the car and when I burnt the Barracuda at National Challenge in Tulsa, Oklahoma we bought this Mustang and had it painted in Arlington Texas. After running the car for a short time we retired and my Dad sold the car to Bob Taylor." (Photo and info courtesy of Tiny Eglit, Paul Fuess and Cogo Eads)
Update 4/02: Tiny's been working on the car; a new coat of paint captures the spirit of what 70s funny cars looked like! More to follow...
Here's a body likely not to be restored. Currently hanging on a den wall in PA is the left side panel from the mid-70s "Philadelphia Flyer" Monza campaigned by "Broadway Joe" Siti. According to Charles Hoopes "this body was burned up at Epping, NH., with Joe Oster driving... after the fire the car was mothballed [and obviously cut-up] for several years until the Challenger was built." Look for more info on the Kenny Youngblood designed (believe it or not the inspiration for the paint scheme came from a moving van Kenny saw on an LA freeway) "Philly Flyer" floppers on Round 4 of the site. (Photo at left by JW Last, right photo and info courtesy of Charles Hoopes)
After a long search, Illinois' John Dunn managed to locate and purchase two vintage Vega bodies. Body at left was found in NC, is off the ex-Don Johnson "Beachcomber" F/C campaigned by Johnson for a short period in the early 70s as a "replacement" while his primary car was being repaired following an accident. Dunn is currently having a chassis built to put under the shell and plans on going nostalgia flopper racing next season. Car at right features the body off the Screaming Eagle Vega of Jim Maybeck from the 72 season... was found at a farm sale in IN. Dunn recently sold that body... (Photos by John Dunn)
Recently found via a swap meet in Ohio was this TV Tommy Ivo relic from the mid-70s. Previous owner reports he had the body for about 4 years, found it behind a body shop where it was apparently about to be scrapped. In the 70s Ivo apparently sold the body to an individual from Canada where it began it's long, undocumented odyssey back to the states. Current owner is looking to sell the body... (Photos and info courtesy of Micky Hale)
Update 12/00: JW, Thought you might be interested to know that I purchased the body from Micky Hale this past weekend. It is currently on it's way back to SoCal as I write this note to you. I've received the go ahead from Mr. Ivo to restore the body as it was originally run. The tin is so perfect, that I think I'm going to have Bobby Hansen build a new chassis around the tin instead of trying to fit the body to a current chassis. Car will run as it did with a 426 and a Crower style 8-hole hat... Bill Sweeney
Bill Sweeney here. I've been meaning to
get some photos of the Ivo Charger off to
you, but I just figured out last week that
I can actually email digital photos
without the help of a computer wizard.
The Damn Yankee Mustang II body was found several years ago residing, as pictured, in the back of a used car lot in western Canada. Exact history of the car is near impossible to trace, but it is know, due to engraving on the tin work, that the body and tin was done by Frame Up engineering in 75. Car migrated to Canada in the early 90s as a BB/FC... body and chassis were soon separated with the chassis still today racing as an altered and the body unceremoniously ending up on top of a restaurant. It was rescued from that fate and the used car lot fate by Glenn Collins. Body was recently sold and shipped off to an Oregon chassis shop to have chassis put underneath it... then off to Calif for some nostalgia racing! (Photo and info courtesy of Glenn Collins)
Car as it appeared when it arrived in Canada... before the body and chassis were separated!
Update, courtesy of Paul Weiss, 12/00: "Talking to the late Bob Simmons (Purple Magic Vega, New Englander Monza) he told me he ran a nitro funny car named the Damn Yankee. Being from Connecticut and Frame Up Engineering being from Connecticut might be a connection. I would be surprised if Bob owned the car new. Being good friends with Al Hanna... maybe one his old car.
This Mustang II is currently located in Hawaii and the owner, Paul Fernandez, is attempting to trace it's history. According to Paul "Its a AA/FC that was purchased in the mainland by Ken Kepner of Oahu in the late seventies. The car last ran about 1987. I purchased the car in April of 1998." Paul noted the fire windows are shaped like pineapples which likely identifies this car as a Sarte build car. Another clue as to the previous owner might be in the grille art as most folks didn't repaint the grille when repainting car. If you've got some ideas contact Paul directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently residing in Hawaii, appropriately enough, is the ex-Hawaiian Charger of Roland Leong. Current owner reports following the 70 season car was shipped back to the Islands, eventually found its way into bracket racing before being abandoned to a backyard. Owner rescued the car about 10 years ago. Plans are to restore it to either 69 or 70 Hawaiian colors (minor color and tin differences) and show the car. To help with the project, if anyone has detailed pictures of either the 69 or 70 version of the Hawaiian, contact me and I'll pass the info on to the owner to help with the restoration! (Photo courtesy of Bruce Wheeler)
Found in central MN by Ken Chase was this ex-Larry Gould Charger. Gould campaigned the car with a Ford SOHC powerplant in the early 70s before the car was sold and went Super Comp racing. Car later was converted to sand drag status before disappearing. Lineage on the car points back to the Logghe Stage 1 chassis being from Dyno Don Nicholson's Eliminator Cougar of the late 60s which started life as the STP Cougar, was later campaigned by Sidney Foster as "Foster's King Cougar" (Cougar body was destroyed by a blower explosion at Budds Creek) before Gould acquired the car and renamed it "Trojan Horse." (Photo and info courtesy of Ken Chase)
Pictured is the ex-Burkholder Bros. "Brotherhood" Cuda body which ran in SoCal in the early 70s (chassis is not from the original car). When this picture was taken, the body was owned by Glenn Collins from Surrey, B.C. Car was last run in 77 after which the chassis apparently went to Sweden and the body ended up on top of an auto parts store. Body was retrieved from that fate and went through several owners before Collins acquired it. Collins also owns a another un-raced 70s Cuda body and a Mustang II shell, the former of which is being mated to the above chassis for restoration. (Photo courtesy of Glenn Collins)
Update 4/04: Larry Pettit bought and brought the Cuda body down from Canada, but ended up not using it after spending about $6000 to bring it up to the usable condition seen here. The Cuda body now resides on Jeff Gaynor's hard running nostalgia AA/FC; Larry Pettit has built a 72 Mustang nostalgia flopper.
The 70s meets Y2K... in late 99 the on-line auction house e-Bay featured Wild Willie Borsch's (ex-Pee Wee Wallace Black Stang) Mustang II flopper from the mid-70s. Car was more or less complete, missing 2 speed, fuel tank, minor misc. Owner reported car had been in storage since 77, found in garage in MI... at auction time car was located in So Cal. Reserve price for this piece of history... $60,000. (Photos used with permission of owner)
Now here's a car with an interesting history... this flopper was supposedly verified by Nick Boninfante to have been an early 70s Graeber chassised, red, Jungle Jim Camaro. Car passed from JJ to the Wahlay Bros and ran as a Warlord Camaro. Car was then sold to a couple folks from NYC and painted up in Rustler Steak House colors (as shown here minus lettering) in approx 76, but no one has any recollection of actually seeing the car run. Car ultimately made it's way to South Dakota where Bob Gibson found it, traded a FE dragster for it, resold it to Ken Chase who has since also resold it. Rumor has the car being restored to a Jungle Jim configuration. (Photo, info courtesy of Bob Gibson)
Della Woods late 60s Charger flopper went on to become the Hippie Hemi of Pop Whitt in the early 70s campaigned as an injected nitro car on the East Coast Fuel Funny Car Circuit. When the car's racing days were over it was literally "put out to pasture" in Maine. But apparently the body wouldn't fit in the owner's garage, so the body was cut up to facilitate getting it in! What a shame... (Photos courtesy of Robb Lowe)
This Charger body was found in Arkansas and had apparently last been utilized as the "Christian Raider" BB/FC. It's ownership prior to that was not traceable. Body was purchased by an individual who has the Mustang II (minus body) version of the Chi-Town Hustler. Plan is to reshell the chassis with this body and return it to Chi-Town colors. To date, body hasn't been mounted on chassis and whole project is still sitting in an airplane hangar in CO. (Photo and info courtesy of Bob Gibson)
This 71 Camaro was found in a barn in northern IL. Based on the body style the owner believed the car to be a Jungle Jim car (according to Bob Gibson of the NHRA Safety Safari everybody with a Nova or Camaro flopper thinks they have a JJ car!!!), but based on the Kelsey Hayes wheels and chassis, Bob believes the car to be one of Dick Harrell's 71 Camaros. Harrell apparently had two cars in 71, the one he was fatally injured in and most likely this one. (Photo and info courtesy of Bob Gibson)
Here's the same car pictured above as it is being restored today!!! (Photo courtesy of Mike DeLille)
This late 60s Charger was found by Bob in PA. Not much left of this old warhorse other than the body, chassis, steering and some tin work. Based on the body style, car's location and color, car might be the "Vitamin C" Charger that ran on the injected nitro East Coast Fuel Funny Car Circuit in the late 60s/early 70s. (Photo and info courtesy of Bob Gibson)
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