Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Meek Looking Grandpa Was Driving a Muscle Car?

So, I've always had an image of my Grandpa (Lloyd) La Porte as a soft-spoken and pretty meek guy.  I don't think that's an inaccurate assessment and I don't think that the recent discovery of mine changes things, it just makes the discovery a bit unexpected.

I've been scanning some old Kodakchrome slides of my parent's and posting digital images and came across this one of my grandpa washing his car.

I was curious about the car and I read that to say "Coronet 440" on the side.  This piqued my curiousity. Although I'm by no means a gearhead, I did know that a 440 cubic inch engine wasn't tiny by any stretch.  My old Chevy Malibu was a 305 and was the weaker version of the 350 that Chevy made that was much faster.  So, by comparison, I already knew that the 440 had some kick.

I Googled it and among the first several hits was from the site "Muscle Car Club." From the "history section" and the date of the photo, it looks like gramps was rocking a '67 Coronet, which could fly!!
Almost all Hemi Coronets were R/T models, but a few Hemi powered Coronet 440 two door hardtops snuck out of the factory. These were built to meet National Hot Rod Association Super Stock B rules and the WO23 cars, as they were known, were the latest in a line of special lightweight models for drag racing. A Street Hemi Coronet 440 tipped the scales at 3,686 lbs, resulting in a power to weight ratio of 8.67 lb/bhp. The body had standard sheet metal with a big fresh air scoop. Sound deadening and body sealer was deleted and the battery was mounted in the trunk. The usual sway bar in front was also deleted, as these models didn't really need to turn that much. There were two versions. The first came with a TorqueFlite modified with a 2,300-2,500 stall speed torque converter and 4.86:1 Sure-Grip Chrysler built 8 3/4 inch differential. The second had the four speed manual transmission with Hurst linkage, reinforced gearing and clutch, and explosion-proof clutch housing. A 4.88 Sure-Grip differential was also included. The SS/B cars did not come with a factory warranty. Fifty examples needed to built and when 55 were built, Dodge pulled the plug. Plymouth also built 55 similar Plymouth Belvedere II two door hardtops (RO23).
These were the ultimate Coronets.
 Production: R/T: 10,181. Hemi: 238 SS/B: 55.
Engines: 426 V8 Hemi 425bhp@5000rpm, 490lb-ft@4000rpm. 440 V8 375bhp@4600rpm, 480lb-ft@3200rpm.
Performance: R/T 440/375: 0-60 in 7 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.4 seconds. 426/425: 0-60 in 6.1 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.5 seconds.

I dug deeper, though, not believing this to be the case and found this:
The Coronet showed up again in 1965, in a much different Dodge; gone was the tradition of “one basic car per brand.” The Coronet was now above the Valiant-based Darts, and below the Polara, Custom 880, and Monaco. Coronet was sold in a base model, 440, and 500 series; the base engine was the slant six, with the 273 V8 optional (it was standard on the 440 and 500, and in wagons). Though Chrysler would make a 440 engine, it did not make one in 1965, so the Coronet 440 name was perhaps misleading but not yet as confusing as it could be.
So, not a 440 cubic inch engine that flew down the streets of Plattsburgh, but a Dodge-Dart upgrade with a wimpy 273 cubic inch 6-cylinder engine that was just named a 440. Quite economical, though, Gramps.  Consistent with the prior "ride to work" efficiency post.


My dad chimed in and confirmed:  "I remember the car, but it was not a souped up version. No muscle car for your Grandfather!"

Alas, this makes more sense.

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