Those who follow drag racing these days will probably recognize the name Billy Harper, who owns the A990 '65 Dodge seen here. Harper, who owns a construction firm in Puducah, Kentucky, is noted for his nitrous-breathing Pro Modified Viper, which will again run the whole IHRA season and selected NHRA events in 2003. A die-hard Hemi enthusiast, he bought this car in 1978 through a for-sale ad in a Mopar newsletter. Originally sold by Evanston Dodge in Illinois to a Ronnie Bullard, it had not been campaigned extensively and was unique in that it had never been tubbed for wider rear tires. Billy took it down the track a couple of times but decided it was too close to original to turn into more than a weekend plaything. It was garage-stored until 1994, when it was chosen for a full restoration.
Red Line Restoration-which Billy himself started in 1989-was given the task of bringing the Dodge back to stock. There was a rollbar in the car that had to come out, but the biggest problem was a replacement driveline because the engine, transmission, and differential were not original. Billy finally located a complete '65-correct Hemi engine in California and admits he paid more for that engine in 1994 than he had for the entire car in the '70s. Luckily, most of the car was still there, including the muffler setup. The odometer still shows just 493 miles, as the car was never street-driven. The only piece that proved to be "unobtainium" was the unique '65 Hemi TorqueFlite tailshaft housing; otherwise, the car is correct. The job was finished by applying a fresh coat of white paint (replacing a pearl race scheme) and refurbishing the beige inte-rior. The result-a Bronze concours honor at the '96 Mopar Nationals where the car was shown for the first time. Today, it's part of Billy's small collection of 426 Hemi machinery.
Times have changed since the '70s, when Billy was able to buy this A990 as a used race car. Although a few monsters continue to ply their trade on the quarter-mile, they're basically too valuable to take a chance on a guardrail dance, and survivors are treasured by their owners.
Complete with a copy of its original title and its fresh appearance, this trendsetter will continue to live on as a relic from the golden era of drag racing.