In the beginning, things were pretty simple. Stock cars ran in one class of drag racing, and modifieds ran in the other, then the top guys ran each other, and the last man standing was the overall winner. That changed in the late '50s as drag racing evolved. Interested executives began showing up for the Nationals in Detroit in 1959, and by 1960, the factories were beginning to step away from the self-imposed anti-racing ban of 1957 and slip packages out the back door to make their car the winner on race day. King-of-the-hill races were no longer part of the equation; each type of eliminator brought honor to the guys (and occasional gals) who could win them.
One guy who became a famous driver back in the early '60s was Bud Faubel, a Pennsylvania car salesman. An Air Force pilot who had flown in combat over Korea and Vietnam, he had originally raced circle track cars and had even gotten some help from Chrysler executive Bob Rodgers back in the '50s for that effort. NASCAR great Marvin Panch came up with the name "Honker" for Bud's fast cars in this era. Starting in 1960, he was factory-backed for the new sport of drag racing, first with 383 cars, then Max Wedges. By the time this Hemi car came into being, he was being tuned by Bill Grumpy Jenkins, who had become a Dodge Boy with driver Dave Strickler that season.
Bills' tight wrench work and Bud's driving ability would lead to both ends of the S/SA record in May 1964, one of the first big numbers in Super Stock by a 426 Hemi engine (and this 11.53/123.79 would hold that honor until early August when Hank Taylor took it away at Phenix City, Alabama). Bud also finished in the top 5 for Division 1 points in Top Stock that year, a real achievement considering the competition he was up against.
The '64 Hemi cars have become some of the most important race machinery in today's collector market, and for good reason. They represented the furthest frontier of production-line, stock-bodied, drag-car development at the time. The Ford Thunderbolts released months earlier had made use of fiberglass body pieces, but Chrysler decided to stick with aluminum that had characterized the Max Wedge cars that had preceded the Hemi, and bolted together the requisite 50 examples for S/S legality. Numbered code 7 on the buildsheet, it included aluminum doors, front fenders, hood with undimpled scoop (the Max Wedge versions had a dip in the middle of the forward opening) held on with a large wing nut on all four corners, radiator support, and other small pieces; a few like this one even got aluminum front bumpers.
Coded A-864, the engine had come off its dominating performance at the Daytona 500 to be retrofitted with the Max Wedge-type cross-ram design supporting a pair of carbs (these were carter AFBs at initial release, with an official Holley replacement mandated soon into the production run), a Prestolite transistorized ignition layout, 12.5 compression (a few steel-nosed versions got an optional 11.0 compression version), and steel-tubing-type exhaust manifolds. It was a tight fit that required a change to the right-side, upper-control-arm bracket to get into the engine bay.
With handlers like Dave Strickler and Al Eckstrand working the new A833 four-speeds, guys like Bud held their own using the infamous dashboard-mounted "typewriter" automatic shifter, pushing 500-plus horses through the new A727 Torqueflite, a creation that had let Chryslers dominate the doorcar eliminator for most of the early '60s. Without the high-rev shock of dumping the clutch, an 831/44 rear was considered efficient and strong enough for the environment, crammed with a 4.56 ring that kept the motor at rpm ranges where it enjoyed breathing-above 4,000 (there is an even steeper 5.13 gear in the car now).
To keep the Dodge light on the scales, the interior was basically gutted-lightweight seats, no radio or heater, the back seat replaced by a cardstock panel, aluminum door hinges, and no body sealer. One striking touch in the '64 Dodge Hemi S/S was the use of red as opposed to black in the interior. As with the Max Wedge cars, the battery (a fat one at that) was moved into the trunk. All in all, it was package set on kill, which it did on regular occasions during the later half of 1964.
After Bud sold it in 1965, it went to New York, and its racing heritage became limited. It later ended up in the Midwest, which was where car broker/restorer Steve Banker found it in the late '80s, with much of Bud's signature paint and graphics intact. It was restored to the standards of that time and was a star exhibit in a private musclecar assembly out west.
Don and Mary Ann Fezell enjoy owning great cars, and when this one becameavailable in 2001 when the collection in Arizona was dissolved, they jumped on it. The odometer-disconnected by Bud soon after the purchase-shows just five miles since rolling off the line. All the paperwork was there, including title, body tags, VIN tag, and invoices. the Fezells live in western Pennsylvania, not far from Faubel's base of operations in Chambersburg, so it was fitting to bring the Dodge home to the Keystone State.
As it sits now, the car looks just like it did when Bud was chasing the record books and win lights with it. The only change from stock that is visible is the addition of an oil/temperature gauge set-up for engine safety. Since Bud had left the car in its basic white format when he put it on the track (adding graphics only), the Honker as shown here is also an excellent representation of the '64 Hemi breed.
The Fezells have graciously brought the car out for public display the last several years at the York US 30 Reunion and Musclecar Madness event in York, Pennsylvania. Bud has also been an honored guest at this event.
FAST FACTS: '64 Bud Faubel Honker Dodge S/S Race car
Don and Mary Ann Fezell * DuBois, PA
Engine: This is it, the beginning of the Hemi heritage with an A-864 drag racing version of the new 426 Hemi. Originally built by Chrysler's Marine & Industrial artisans in the early months of 1964, this example was tuned on by the Grump himself to an NHRA National Record run at Cecil County, Maryland, in May 1964. Presently, the engine in the Honker is a correct '64 block put back to stock specs
Transmission: Behind that honkin' hot bird is an A727 'flite, rebuilt to stock specs and shifted into gear by pushing buttons in the dashboard. That deal, perfect for folks who are left-handed, was the paddle shifter of yesteryear, but would soon fade away as floor and column models took over.
Differential: The venerable 831/44 banjo type with 4.56 rings; this is the version that had the locknut axles as well.
Horsepower & Performance: Bud had it down in the low 11s before he was done. Don, who drag raced for years, has decided not to chance damaging all the high-dollar Alcoa-type parts at speed.
Suspension: OEM Chrysler Super Stock leaf outfit with heavy-duty shocks.
Brakes: Check out the jelly jar on the firewall. Luckily, you only had to stop once in a while.
Wheels: Narrow factory steelies at 15x4 front and 15x7 rear; under the full 500 horses, these were like driving on icicles.
Rubber: '64 legal versions.
Body: A sedan with lots of factory lightweight goodies and tricks.
Paint: Factory white with graphics, redone by Steve Banker and the crew at the now-defunct Factory Muscle collection in Arizona.
Interior: Red, the factory color of passion in 1964