Pick of the Day: 1966 Dodge Coronet Hemi

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The Dodge Coronet is a significant piece of Hemi history

The Pick of the Day is a 1966 Dodge Coronet with a genuinely historic back story, a piece of motorsports lore that should make any Mopar fanatic sit up and take notice.

According to its advertisement on ClassicCars.com, this Dodge was modified and campaigned on the streets of Detroit by none other than Tom Hoover, the renowned engineer widely known as “the godfather of the 426 Hemi engine.”

The Coronet looks like an understated performance sleeper

Hoover, who died in 2015 at the age of 85, led the “skunkworks” team of fellow Chrysler engineers that developed the big-block Hemi for racing and street performance. Starting in April 1963, they took the automaker’s existing hemispheric-head V8 and transformed it into the powerful and durable 426cid Hemi in less than a year.

The Hemi dominated the 1964 Daytona 500, taking the top three spots with legendary NASCAR driver Richard Petty coming in first after setting a speed record and lapping the entire field. The 426 Hemi became Chrysler’s signature performance engine, and is still used in today’s cars, trucks and SUVs.

Hoover also was a founding member of the Ramchargers drag-racing team of Chrysler engineers and earlier had helped create Mopar’s mighty Max Wedge big-block V8.

Tom Hoover signed the dashboard

The Auburn Hills, Michigan, dealer selling the Coronet makes no bones about the historic significance of the dark-green coupe.

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“This is the purpose-built street racer that gave Mopar its winning street exposure and credibility,” the ad says. “The car is fully documented with everything from the original Protecto-Plate to the hand-written diary of Tom Hoover that documents how the car was maintained.

“The car has all types of performance enhancements that were designed to make this the fastest car on the road. This included special carburetors, camshaft, aluminum A990 heads, intake modifications, Hooker headers, roller rocker arms, special adjustable suspension and transmission modifications.

The 426 Hemi is fed by a specially made pair of fresh-air ducts

“They even specially ducted the cold-air intakes from the sides of the grill by removing the parking lights and to keep it legal, they took a 1967 prototype Coronet bumper that had a provision for parking lights and installed it on the car.”

The interior also was modified for performance, with lightweight seats and brackets, deletion of the back seat, low-mounted tachometer (to avoid police detection), trunk-mounted battery and a racing floor shifter.

The interior also has been performance modified

“The car has been in the same ownership for the past 30 years,” the dealer notes. “When the current owners rescued the car and began the restoration, they wanted to be certain that every detail was correct to the way Tom Hoover built it. They accomplished this by getting Tom Hoover himself to supervise the restoration!”

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The seller does not include an asking price for the car, so any prospective buyer would need to call the dealership to find out. Just don’t expect this important hunk of Hemi history to be any kind of bargain. It should bring quite a premium.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

 

 

 

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

1 COMMENT

  1. I can confirm that it’s Tom Hoover’s old car.
    The fresh air induction system was the Ramchargers experimenting with where the low and high pressure frontal areas are on the car.
    I’m not 100% sure, but I think we did a feature on it when I was the editor of either Cars & Parts, or Mopar Enthusiast magazine.

    Greg Rager

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