HomePick of the Day’61 Chevy is tribute to legacy of Bill ‘Grumpy’ Jenkins

’61 Chevy is tribute to legacy of Bill ‘Grumpy’ Jenkins


Bill Jenkins studied engineering at Cornell University. Most notably, he applied his education to drag racing where the man primarily known by his nickname, “Grumpy,” won 13 National Hot Rod Association championships and became famous as the star of Pro Stock division.

When not behind the wheel, Jenkins was building cars, and 30 of them won national drag racing championships. He also was an accomplished engine builder. 

For car owner Dave Strickler, Jenkins built a souped-up 409cid V8 engine that powered Strickler and his 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne coupe to the first A/FX NHRA championship. The car was known as “Old Reliable.”

The Pick of the Day is a 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne 409 coupe built in tribute to that original one, built under Jenkins supervision according to the West Palm Beach, Florida, dealership advertising the car for sale on

Jenkins, inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996, died in 2012.

“Built under the supervision of Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins himself, this 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne recreates Jenkins first Old Reliable racer, which driver Dave Strickler drove to the very first NHRA Optional/Super Stock class record with an elapsed time of 13.24 seconds at 106.64 MPH at his home strip in York, Pennsylvania, in October 1961,” the dealer reports in the advertisement. 

“Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, businessman and veteran drag-racer Terry Brennan got the ball rolling on the project after Jenkins, an old friend and regular dinner guest, once told Brennan that of all the cars he’d raced, the one he most wanted to have was that record-setting first Old Reliable. 

“Brennan purchased a suitable donor car and began scouring the country for NOS parts, while award-winning Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, builder Ronnie Evans prepared and painted the body and frame. Before painting the car in the correct Honduras Maroon, Evans was advised by Jenkins to spray it as it was delivered from the factory; in other words, with lots of orange peel. 

“The original’s white hand-painted Ammon R. Smith-Dave Strickler-Bill Jenkins exterior lettering was faithfully re-created, and the hood was also authentically finished with white paint and a fabricated hood scoop replicating the original, complete with Original Scooper Stocker lettering. 

“Once the body was painted and detailed, including all the correct factory markings in the engine compartment and undercarriage work proceeded on installing the original 409 CI big-block, which was the engine that Jenkins himself built for the car…”

“Jenkins tuned the completed 409 on his own dyno, extracting 429 HP. The car was finally assembled with the correct 4-speed manual and shifter, period-correct NOS Ansen scatter shield and driveshaft, a rare 4.56:1 10-bolt Positraction third member, oversized drum brakes and station wagon wheels contributed by Jenkins and fitted with Goodyear wide whitewall tires.”

The car has a white, black and gray interior said to be an accurate reproduction “right down to the column-mounted tach, floor shifter and radio/heater delete.”

The car is offered for $109,900. To view this listing on, see Pick of the Day.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Super tribute, super guy …Thank You so much. Well done & keep them rolling in. Today we need heros like this to spark the youth with some creativity outside the realm of controlled substances. Again great job ! R/S. M.A.

  2. I loved all the 61 models from GM…they were the first cars that really caught my artistic eye. The Chevy, the Pontiac and Buick bubble tops, and even the ‘flat tops’ as this car. A good friend later bought a used Bonneville Convertible, White with 3-tone Brown leather interior. I lusted for that car!

  3. That’s flat cool.
    My dad worked for GM (Delco-Remy plant, Anderson IN) all his life. I am a child of the golden days of hot cars (driver’s license ’75) created by the divisions to counter Ford & Chrysler.
    When I was in elementary school (’64-’69) Dad had a ’61 Impala, black/white steel top, tri-tone black/white/grey pattern interior, white accent in the side spear… and a built 2×4 348, 4spd with the cue ball, and deep gears in the built rear axle. Yeah. Also had a ’62 Impala SS in Anniversary Gold, 327/PowerGlide, gold vinyl interior…
    When was the last time you saw an interior in a new car that wasn’t black, a shade of grey, or fake leather tones of dirt brown and/or dull with hype stitching? And "accent" panels?
    Gimme the famous Mallory dual-point distributor, chrome knobs, and a His/Hers Hurst shifter buried in vinyl fake wood wrapped by a ’67 400 4bbl GTO in Mariner turquoise with a parchment interior. Hold the "Trac control", ABS, air bags, OBD computer hocus pocus; add a generous portion of manliness and "taking responsibilitiness"- then drop the hammer.
    Love the ’61. Wish I


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts