The '51 Chrysler New Yorker...
The '51 Chrysler New Yorker was the first official pace car for Chrysler Corporation since the Newport dual-cowl phaeton of 1941. Posing with his prize for winning the 35th edition of the Indy 500, is Lee Wallard and his No. 99 Belanger Motors Special. Credit: IMSC.
It had been 10 years since Chrysler had fielded an official pace car for the Indy 500, but the car was a classic. For the May 30, 1951 race, the pace car was a '51 Chrysler New Yorker convertible (13111/42-inch wheelbase), with the new, 331.1ci FirePower V8 under the hood. Using a two-barrel carb, output came to 180 hp at 4,000 rpm, and 312 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm on 7.5:1 compression. "FirePower" was emblazoned in red paint on the drop-top's sides. The color chosen was Code 65 Belvidere Ivory, which enhanced the sculptured styling of Henry King. At least one '51 Chrysler hardtop was at the race, as an official car for the AAA Contest Board.
The base price for the upscale Chrysler convertible was $3,916. Production of the New Yorker ragtops measured 2,200 units, which were built during 1951-52, no pace car replicas were constructed. The choice of transmissions included the four-speed Fluid Drive (standard) or Fluid-Torque Drive (optional). Chrysler Division President David A. Wallace was at the wheel of the pace car, and actress Loretta Young was the guest celebrity. Lee Wallard was the winner in the No. 99 Belanger Motors Special, and was the first to break the four-hour barrier at Indy.
Dodge supplied the O.C. for...
Dodge supplied the O.C. for the May 31, 1954 race, which was a '54 Dodge Royal V8 four-door sedan. In addition to the standard 150hp Red Ram V8 under the hood, a customer could order the optional two-speed PowerFlite automatic transmission. Credit: IMSC.
The official announcement for the '54 Dodge Royal 500 convertible came on February 1, 1954. The official pace car was painted Pace Car Yellow (Code 556), and had Jewel Black (Code 501) accents on the windshield surround and at the top of the doors, extending along the quarter-panels, to the end of the boot rails. The front fenders and decklid were adorned with crossed flag/500 emblems, while the "500" number was affixed to the quarter-panels above the chrome-plated stone shields. The headlight bezels were two-piece units, with the back parts painted body color and the fronts chrome-plated.
According to the May/June '54 issue of Chrysler Export News, the Royal 500's interior consisted of "Cordahide in a combination of '500' yellow and black colors; black carpeting throughout; an instrument panel in yellow leathertex with black insert, and a black steering wheel." Additional features included "a special lower black top, which [had] embroidered Dodge crests, and a small rear window. The Boot [was] black with a yellow trim, and the Body [had] a continental spare tire and wheel mounting for disc or wire wheels."
Under the hood was the 241.4ci Red Ram V8, topped off with an Offenhauser intake manifold and factory-cataloged, WCFB Carter No. 2191S four-barrel (instead of the standard two-throat) carburetor. The induction setup was available as a dealer installation for the Royal 500 pace car replicas. The dual exhaust system consisted of twin mufflers and chrome tailpipe extensions. The factory made 701 Royal 500 pace car replicas, which were built on a 114-inch wheelbase chassis, and had an overall length of 19911/42 inches.
The '56 DeSoto Fireflite convertible...
The '56 DeSoto Fireflite convertible official pace car is shown leading the field for the parade lap, at the start of the May 30, 1956 race. Both the official pace car and its backup were equipped with the Adventurer coupe's 341ci, 320hp, Hemi-head V8, with dual four-barrel carburetors. The V8 provided plenty of power to accelerate on the famed speedway. Credit: IMSC.
The Royal 500 official pace car, equipped with a two-speed, PowerFlite automatic transmission, was piloted by Dodge Division President William C. Newberg. Guest celebrities included Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Bill Vukovich won his second consecutive Indy 500 in the No. 14 Fuel Injection Special on May 31, 1954. According to the book Indy 500 Pace Cars by the auto editors of Consumer Guide, Bill Vukovich traded in the Royal 500 pace car he received for winning the race against a DeSoto (p. 89 of Indy 500 Pace Cars.).
Heading up the Emergency Safety Patrol was a '54 Job-Rated Dodge pickup, which bore billboard-style graphics heralding the availability of the new Power Dome V8 engine, with hemispherical combustion chambers. The white pickup sported a curved glass windshield-a Dodge truck first. The official car of AAA's Robert Laycock (Press and Radio) was a '54 Dodge Royal V8 four-door sedan (MSRP of $2,552), with the 150hp Red Ram engine under the hood.