Sling Shot Shuffle

John Gunnell |
This is what many low-buck hot rod projects looked like in the ‘50s.

This is what many low-buck hot rod projects looked like in the ‘50s.

Going back about 3-1/2 years,  we penned an article called “Dragsters Get ‘Back in the Race’ as Collectibles” for which we interviewed 10 people on the topic of collecting vintage dragsters. In general, the people who owned dragsters said they were collectible, while people who worked for auctions and insurance companies said they were not a big time collectible and never would be.

We never agreed with that point of view and, as time marches on, we think we’re right. Take the Pontiac dragster we saw at the Race & Performance Expo (www.raceperformanceexpo.com) in St. Charles, Ill. It featured a 1964-‘66 Jim Davis style 160-in. wheelbase chassis that was found in 2005 hanging from the rafters in the original owner’s barn. The wheels and torsion bar front suspension are straight from the ‘60s; the 455-cid Pontiac V-8 is from a bit later era, but still very vintage. The car has Moon, Wilwood and Mickey Thompson goodies on it. There is a Simpson chute, a Ford 9-in. rear axle and a Powerglide transmission.

If you’re like us, you poured through the pages of Hot Rod Magazine back in the day looking at photos of dragsters, reading the stats that showed how quick they got off the line and how fast they went in the Quarter. Then, you dreamed about donning a racing suit, squeezing into a helmet, slipping down into the cockpit and blasting over the 1320 feet in front of you faster than you ever went before. And that dream is what collecting dragsters is all about.

Most of the naysayers who say dragster collecting won’t go big time pointed out these cars do not meet current racing regulations. If that is supposed to be a requirement for collecting vintage racing cars, then why chase after antique sprint cars, out-of-date midgets or historic Indy cars? You don’t have to be a racer to be a collector—you just have that dream of becoming a racer! The unrealized dreams of youth and a little money is all it takes; the hell with reality!

How much money are we talking? A few years back, at a Mecum Auction (www.mecum.com) we passed up a 1950 dragster with a dummy Rocket 88 Olds engine for around $5,000. We are still kicking ourselves for being asleep at the wheel on that opportunity. The Pontiac dragster we noticed at the Expo was for sale and the asking price was $19,500. That is not a heck of a lot to buy a dream and it just might turn out to be a great investment for somebody.

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