Getting back to the Skanes Kit Car, it was a Dodge Mirada when Edward got it and it was quite beat up. Ed says, "I saw it advertised in Piston Magazine and I knew the car. At that time, Paul Brewer had it for sale, but I didn't have the funds, so he sold it to a racer in Isom, Kentucky. The next time I saw it, I bought it for $450."
But the car's condition was rough. According to Ed, "The only thing that was any good in the car was the chassis; everything else was worn out. I didn't think it would be worth restoring, but I called Paul Brewer and he had the original Keith Black engine and many other parts. I got it all at a reasonable price, so that made it economical to restore. It has the original wheels. I spent a fortune having them rechromed since that was how it appeared new.
"It obviously needed to be rebodied and we took it back to its Challenger form." Ed tells us that proved to be the best move. "Since it was originally a Challenger, the coupe skin fit it all the better." Jimmy Jones of Cincinnati, Ohio, installed the sheetmetal to the Kit Car chassis and applied the Petty Blue hue. "Jimmy is a drag racer and really understands how to build and restore vintage racecars," says Ed. "Our hope to restore it as an original Petty Kit Car was accomplished due mainly to the parts we acquired from Paul Brewer and Jimmy's expertise."
When we saw the Skanes Kit Car, it was at the '99 Mopar Nationals. Ed tells us, "I take it out for exhibitions, like the Speedweeks event, where they allow significant cars to run for 24 minutes prior to the 24 Hours of Daytona. I turn the driving over to Gary Savage, the son of Suede Savage. In fact, Gary got to talk to Bill France, Jr. at Daytona in February 1999 about the car. I think France was interested because of its Petty heritage."
In closing, Ed says, "It's amazing to me, I often get greater interest at shows over the Kit Car than I do with Gurney's AAR 'Cuda." Is it the Petty heritage? The circle track association? The concept of buying a race car in kit form from Chrysler Performance Parts? Or is it just the mystery? Yep, we think it is the mystery of how yankees and good 'ol boys got together and created something that, when put into the hands of grassroots enthusiasts, helped put them in the Winner's Circle.
Names You Know
The saying goes, "It's a small world." In addition to the efforts of Petty Enterprises, Pete Hamilton, and a young Dale Earnhardt, consider some other names who were involved at some level in the development and building of Chrysler's Kit Cars:
* The tubes and connectors for the Kit Car chassis were built by Bob Keselowski who today owns the No. 1 NASCAR Craftsman Series Ram driven by Dennis Setzer. In addition, Bob drives the No. 29 NASCAR Craftsman Series Ram as part of the two-truck Keselowski team sponsored by Team Mopar and Dodge.
* Welding the chassis together once the parts arrived at Petty Enterprises was the job of Steve Hmiel. Hancock tells us that Hmiel, currently Dale Earnhardt's Technical Director at DEI and former Roush crewchief, was the welder down at Petty's. "He welded nearly every one of the cages for the Kit Cars."