Lightweight materials were strictly forbidden on racecar bodies – no fiberglass or aluminum. ‘That’s cute,’ said Chrysler, and proceeded to chemical-milling its Dodge Coronet and Plymouth Belvedere Super Stock racers. If it sounds pompous, note that the procedure involved dipping thin sheet metal body panels in acid.
The corrosion shaved some 40% of the weight. The hemi-heads were cast of aluminum instead of cast iron, and the intake manifold is magnesium. This hard-core starvation session would result in the A990 – a one-year-only Package Car with a limited production of only 210 examples: 105 for each of the two Chrysler divisions rooted deep into go-fast events.
It might not sound like much, but engineers take nothing for granted in a competition where every ounce matters. Chrysler’s Jim Thornton is primarily credited with creating these wonderfully monstrous machines. Thornton didn’t like breaking the rules but hated foot-in-mouth impeachments altogether, and he came up with rule-bending solutions: the engine bay was just that – a bay where the engine sat and little else.
The Race HEMI – a hefty hunk of metal itself – didn’t need any additional weight on the non-driving axle, so everything unnecessary was removed. The air conditioning isn’t worth mentioning since no race car carries such amenities. There is no power steering or power brakes, heater, radio, back seats, or passenger-side windshield wiper.
All of the above can be seen in this original 1964 Dodge Coronet A990 Super Stock racer that honored this year’s Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals with its majestic presence. Look in the engine bay – the elephant is dominant in a space void of all non-critical accessories. The Dodge was built for one business-oriented purpose – if said business involved working in 11-second shifts between point Start to point Finish, 1,320 feet later.
The current owner didn't say when he purchased this bright red car, but an identical iconic Dodge was part of an auction almost six years ago at the Kissimmee 2018 event in January of that year. The high bid reached $125,000 but didn’t meet the seller’s expectations then. It’s no wonder that a dealer specializing in factory lightweights offers another similar-looking car for sale. The price? $275,000.
The savage Race HEMI upfront sends all that might – some 630 hp (639 PS), according to several sources – to a 4.56 rear. It was the only gearing available – customers' options were limited to color, transmission type (four-speed manual or TorqueFlite automatic), and tire size. Priced at $4,717 when new, this Coronet was by no means cheap, nor did it offer relaxing cruising sessions behind the wheel – that open headers exhaust is not something the neighbors usually find socially (or acoustically) acceptable.
The compression ratio (set at 12.5:1), the anti-roll bar delete option on the front, and the 10-inch drums point out one specific purpose: quarter-mile efficiency. For comparison, note that the later versions of the Street HEMI Coronets came with anti-roll bars as standard, and the brakes were 11-inch-sized.
In 1965, the Coronet was Dodge’s most popular model, with some 209,000 units sold. Coincidentally, the Coronet took the performance laurels that year with the A990 (the number stands for the Race HEMI internal development code of the year). One year later, the Street HEMI was launched with a much more approachable demeanor - the first-generation Charger. However, it still wreaked havoc in Detroit.