In the last several years, as the supply of purebred musclecars began to dry up, other Mopars started to increase in popularity. The big C-Bodies, previously relegated as a mere source for large-displacement motors, found a niche on the street. The pre-'64 machines, from the era before big compression ratios and lightweight engine designs, have also come into their own. However, if one area has garnered a stronghold, it's station wagons. Practicality, parts interchangability, and comfort have played a role in this. Eight years ago, Evansville, Indiana, Chrysler/Plymouth dealership owner Dave Duell of Newburgh, Indiana, began work on a '64 Plymouth Fury wagon, but it was not the first time he had put his passions into such a project.
Duell is a longtime drag racer, and back in the heyday of '60s-era factory involvement, he had not been behind the wheel of a Hemi coupe or A-Body. Nope, Duell had a 425-horse Max Wedge Dodge 440 wagon with horsepower courtesy "Akron Arlen" Vanke. This machine set NHRA national records and was one of only a handful of wagons that raced competitively in any form of racing. Vanke, the well-known Super Stock star, was involved in every aspect of the wagon, and Dave credits him greatly for the success garnered by the early Drag'n Wag'n.
Though Duell's involvement with the automotive business would take him away from racing for many years, the memories remained. After creating a '64 Max Wedge Sport Fury clone in 1990, he decided it was time to turn back the clock. His son Doug took over the controls on the two-door and Dave and his crew got down to business to create a near identical wagon.
Of course, times had changed, and Duell, who races in nostalgia-type drags now, was no longer under the NHRA Stock Eliminator rules. The basis for the new ride was a solid '64 Fury wagon from Loveland, Colorado. After it was driven back to Indiana, it was turned over to Mat Wright's BRC Racecraft, where a full cage was installed, along with Wilwood brakes, S&W ladder bars, a fiberglass tailgate and front fenders, and widened rear tubs. Koni shocks now reside in the back, and the car rides on Center Line wheels shod with Mickey Thompson rubber. Lefler Body Shop did the paint, while Creative Signs handled the lettering.
The car was originally launched with a 440 wedge built by Ken Lazzeri, who was at McCandless Performance at the time, but just as the need for greater speed drives the sport, Dave was also driven. The wagon has since evolved to a 588-inch aluminum stroker Hemi mill that kicked out 900 horses on the dyno at Indy Cylinder Head, which is where Lazzeri now plies his trade. Since nostalgia-class success is based on indexes and reaction times rather than flat-out performance, this might seem like overkill, but, hey, we are Mopar guys; too much is just enough! Lazzeri and the crew at ICH provided most of the internals, supplemented by peripherals by Hedman, Comp Cams, Wisco, BME, and Callies. A pair of Edelbrock 850 cfm carbs is atop the trick Max Wedge-style intake developed by Indy, while MSD provides the firepower assisted by an Optima battery cleverly located in a rear quarter-panel. The Charlie's Oil Pan holds Kendall Oil to keep the engine roaring to its 7200 rpm limit. Behind this beast is a Rick Allison-built 727 Torqueflite with a bulletproof Dynamic 5500-stall converter, and a stock Dana 60 housing with heavy duty parts from Moser Engineering, and a 4.56 Richmond ring is out back.
In A/FX trim, which has a 9.50 index, Dave has tripped the top-end lights with times in the 9.40s at over 140 MPH. Traveling via motorhome to events, he is assisted by his wife Sharon and sons Doug and Greg. Credit is also due to fellow racers Joe Ewing, Jerry Meny, and Mat Wright, and the car has won both tech awards and events over the past few seasons.
Of course, Dave's not one to stand still. In addition to racing this car, he owns several others, including a crate-motor Hemi '68 Barracuda that was just finished for IHRA Stock Eliminator racing. But that's a story for another day.