When it came to building factory Super Stock machines, nobody did it like Chrysler. Sure, the early '60s had some stout Pontiacs and Chevy packages, but GM's racing ban in early 1963 ended all that. Ford and Mercury had released hot drag cars as well, but with only a few exceptions, they were never as visible as the Mopars. When you thought about Super Stock monsters grappling toward the stars, it was Belvederes, Barracudas, Darts, and Coronets.
The production packages released with Max Wedges ended in 1964 when the Hemi came on line, and the '65 machines continue to be legendary, even today. In 1967, the year before the ultimate S/S weapons were put together by Hurst and cloaked in A-body skin, the factory built a fairly sedate race package (indeed, some recently uncovered paperwork suggests that it may have even been veiled to be a Stock rather than a Super Stock vehicle). The reasoning was likely to keep the '65 cars as competitive as possible by moving the cars further down in the pecking order of the new Super Stock division NHRA had developed for the '67 season, and the cars ended up in SS/B. Somewhat saddled with weight and lacking in the hardware that helped put the '65 versions on the map, these Belvederes and Coronets were not particularly stellar in their careers, though they would win on occasion.
Fast forward into the 21st century, and the '67 drag packages coded WO23 (Dodge) and RO23 (Plymouth) have become hot properties. well-heeled collectors are now converting many of the remaining cars (estimated to have been done in batches of 55 each) back into standard as-delivered cars, painted in white, and showing little sign of their performance heritage beyond the broad steel scoop bolted to the hood.
The Coronet you see here might have suffered a similar fate with conformity had Mike and Rhonda Ricketts not decided they wanted a piece that would both show and go.
"I've had over 120 old Mopars since I was about 16," says Mike, who lives in the northeastern Detroit suburb of Chesterfield Township. "Some beauties, some rare, some average, some transportation, and some just plain junk."
The history of this particular Dodge is unknown, though Mike heard a rumor it was raced in the Chicago area. By the time he bought its remains in the late '90s from a Pennsylvania owner, it was, in his words, "completely used-up." Thus began a process of restoration and upgrades that would take five years and a substantial amount of cash to finish, but would reward the Ricketts with an award-winning combination. Two other '67 Coronets donors were needed to get it back to looking right; this is one of the reasons Mike chose to go racing rather then deal with the restoration issues of doing so much rebuilding.
After the shell was treated to nicer sheetmetal to replace panels that had been chopped in its bracket days, the rear wheel lips were stretched 5 inches over the center of the opening to make the big tires look right. Freeland, Michigan, chassis man Al Wisniewski (Racefab) got it after it had been acid-dipped, epoxy-coated, and baked, and began the work of bringing the car back from the dead. A modern chrome-moly cage went inside, along with a Grant wheel on a custom column, Kirkey aluminum seats, and Auto Meter gauges; the upholstery was accented with red paint on the exposed metal.
"The extra silver trim on the interior, all these N.O.S. trim parts-I got really stupid with this car," Mike says with a grin.