Just the Facts: On 9 May, staff photographer Charles "Chuck" James and myself proceeded to Ocala, Florida, to visit one Don Garlits, for purposes of investigating reports surrounding a white 1966 Coronet four door sedan. The car was Hemi powered.
This Is Its Story
Purportedly special ordered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, this car is fitted with the following options: Hemi engine (with two [(2) inline four-barrel carburetors), 727 automatic transmission, Sure-Grip 8 3/4 rearend equipped with 3.23:1 ratio ring and pinion gearing, and heavy duty .94-inch diameter front sway bar. Four wheel drum brakes. Of interest was the addition of a station wagon radiator shroud and Group 27 70-amp Heavy Duty battery.
Interior appointments are minimal: full length rubber floor mat and clear rubber floor protectors at all four passenger seating locations; cigar lighter; rear seat ash trays; AM radio.
Absent from the vehicle were any comfort-inducing accessories: no air condition, power steering, power brakes, or windows.
All information is confirmed by vehicle's Broadcast sheet.
Vehicle was located across state lines by above-mentioned Mr. Garlits June of 1988, through monthly specialty publication Hemmings Motor News (AKA The Restorers Bible). Car was purchased in complete and original condition, with approximately 64,000 miles registered on odometer.
Rumors abounded of a second vehicle of same make/model, equipped identically to subject vehicle, held in possession by a third party, yet coincidentally residing in same city as subject vehicle at time of sale. Second vehicle was also located through Hemmings publication. Second vehicle, however, was in disassembled condition. Mr. Garlits attempted to purchase second vehicle, but was told car had been sold by seller's mother, unbeknownst to seller. Check was returned, uncashed, to Mr. Garlits. Mr. Garlits noted that he was skeptical of seller's story-thinks seller was told vehicle was worth much more than he was selling it for, and proceeded to take higher offer after receiving Mr. Garlits' check. Second car reportedly was sold at auction some years later, to private collector, for upwards of $60,000 dollars. However, this has not been confirmed.
Speculation as to the Bureau's reasoning for special-ordering the two vehicles indicates that Bureau had originally planned to use vehicles as towing and field operations support vehicles. Inspection of the rear frame rails of subject vehicle showed evidence of trailer hitch mounting brackets welded to sub frame rails, just behind rear bumber. However, rest of trailer hitch assembly is absent.
As Mr. Garlits relates story, Bureau was reportedly dissatisfied with vehicles' performance of intended purpose, and retired the vehicles from active Bureau service, whereupon they were sold to the public and placed in civilian service. Speculation is that engine was difficult to maintain and too temperamental for regular service vehicles-particularly valve train maintenance and adjustment.
Car currently resides in Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida, with several other rare and interesting Mopar vehicles, including Hemi Charger 500, Root Beer Daytona Charger, Max Wedge vehicles, and over 100 other cars and significant drag race contestant vehicles.
Further fact-gathering trips may be needed.