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Crossram Memories

A Guest Column for 1962 to 1965 Mopar Fans!

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Pete Mr. Hemi Haldiman

In the spring of 1964, Chrysler Corporation built a small number of Dodges and Plymouths powered by its new 426 c.i. Hemi engine. These were to be used in sanctioned drag racing. California racer "Dandy" Dick Landy was given access to one of the first of these cars, a Dodge 330, and he campaigned it during the summer of '64. These cars were raced in N.H.R.A.'s "Super Stock" class with either automatic or 4-speed transmissions. Dick Landy competed in this class at the "U.S. Nationals" on Labor Day weekend of '64 with his silver Dodge. The car had an automatic trans so it was lettered with "SS/A,", super stock automatic, and its competition number "676".

1964 Dodge front - AWB Dick Landy 1964 Dodge front suspension - AWB Dick Landy

In the fall of 1964 Landy decided to go "match racing" so he made several radical changes to his car. To reduce weight he removed all of the front suspension and replaced it with leaf springs and a solid front axle from a Dodge van. Because traction can be unproved by having the rear axle carry the majority of a car's weight, Landy relocated the rear axle forward about 8 inches. The front suspension was moved forward about 6 inches. These changes moved the majority of the car's weight over the rear tires. Landy used the car in this configuration for numerous match races in me last few months of 1964.

In the fall of 1964 Chrysler was building 1965 production cars and several special race cars, the "A/FX's" for the upcoming 1965 racing season. About a dozen of these cars were to be built with the rear axles moved forward 15 inches and the front wheels moved up 10 inches. These were at first called "altered wheelbase" cars and they were intended to compete in N.H.R.A.'s "A", factory experimental class ("A/FX"). However, given an early preview of me first altered wheelbase car, the N.H.R.A. nixed this idea.

1964 Dodge side - AWB Dick Landy 1964 Dodge interior - AWB Dick Landy

Also in late 1964 some unknown individual observed that the radically altered wheelbase Mopar's appeared somewhat silly-looking from the side view. The front wheels were almost touching the front bumper while the rear wheels were very close to the doors. This person came up with the phrase "funny car." Chrysler went ahead and completed several of the A/FX cars. They first raced at the winter A.H.R.A. meet in Phoenix in early 1965. Dick Landy received one of the altered Dodges and he ran at this meet. In films of this event the announcer was calling the Mopars the "first funny cars".

Note that Landy's 1964 Dodge was converted to an altered wheelbase configuration and was at the strips at least three months before the factory's '65's raced at Phoenix. Although the factory '65's had more "alteration" (10" front/15" rear versus Landy's 6" front/8" rear) it is clear that Landy's 1964 Dodge is truly a "funny car". Since Landy's 1964 Dodge was on the tracks first, it could legitimately claim the title of "The First Funny Car".


Landy's Dodge has VIN 614225635, scheduled production date May 21, 1964 and a shipping date of May 27. It was built as a factory lightweight, Hemi car. There are about a dozen 1964 Dodge lightweights remaining; most of these have VIN's higher in number and production dates later than Landy's '64. The first 426 Hemi motor was put into Chrysler Corporation factory-built cars in 1964. Landy's '64 was among the first few cars built, in the first batch of factory-built Dodges. The 426 Hemi continued as a Mopar option into 1971; all tolled about 9,000 were built. Today there are approximately 2,500 Hemi cars still surviving; of these Landy's '64 is one of the oldest.


Landy's car was scheduled to be shipped May 27,1964. Landy took possession of the car and raced it as a "stocker" at least through Labor Day of 1964. He modified the car into an altered wheelbase "match racer" in the fall of 1964. In December Landy received one of the first factory-built 1965 Dodge "A/FX" cars. The 1964 car was presumably retired soon after and eventually sold.

An ad in Car Craft magazine, May, 1977, offered the '64 Dodge for sale. As a result of this ad the car was purchased by its current owners in February, 1978. Located in the Westchester, California area, the car appeared to have suffered few changes from when it was last owned by Dick Landy. The car was missing its Hemi engine and was painted white instead of silver. It appeared to have its original Hemi automatic trans and its original 8 3/4 inch rear end. The Dodge was easy to authenticate because of the numerous magazine photos and articles it had appeared in. The straight front axle and the six tail lights were most obvious.

1964 Dodge 426 hemi - AWB Dick Landy 1964 Dodge rear - AWB Dick Landy

Since 1978 the car has been to several car shows or displays but has not been raced. Dick Landy first saw the restored car in April, 1990. He autographed the headliner in November, 1994.

1. Hotrod Parts Illustrated. Nov., 1964
2. Super Stock and Drag Illustrated. Dec., 1964
3. Drag Racing. Jan., 1965
4. Super Stock. Jan., 1965
5. Hotrod Parts Illustrated. Jan., 1965
6. Hot Rod. Feb., 1965
7. Super Stock. Mar., 1965
8. Drag Racing, April, 1965
9. Drag Strip, June, 1966
10. Hot Rod, Jan., 1970
11. Musclecar Review, Jan., 1988
12. High Performance Mopar, Mar., 1990
13. High Performance Mopar, July, 1990
14. Hemi, Muscle Car Color History - by Anthony Young, 1991
15. Mopar Muscle, Feb/Mar., 1993
© November 1, 2001

Reader's Comments

Editor's note: One of the great things about the Web is it tickles the "collective mass memory" to help clarify and define data. While I'm certain Mr. Haldiman was writing from the best information he had on hand and used the magazine sources he listed, there are additional comments sent in about the events those decades ago. These are presented below.

If anyone has additional data send it to me and I will add it to this Web page.

Joel F. Naprstek writes:

The four 2% A/FX factory Mopars were built way before Landy's car was converted. Comparing VIN numbers means nothing as Landy's car was an S/SA car before that got converted later. Sure, Landy's car may have been an early S/SA hemi car but it...wasn't the first funny.

The four factory 2% Mopars were running at the NHRA Nationals while Landy was still running S/SA (and probably with a little shiftiness to his wheelbase anyway. Strick-Jenkins, Tommy Grove and the Ramchargers were running their 2% AWB cars by the Spring of '64, way before the Fall when Landy converted his car. Bill "Maverick" Golden had converted his S/SA car to AWB status before Landy also. Maverick was running his car that way by AHRA Nationals time in Sept. at Green Valley, TX and most likely before that too.

Also, Landy didn't run that '64 car with Cragars ... he first had silver steel wheels as an S/SA, then chrome and painted steel wheels combo right after AWB conversion, then finally Keystones all around. He did run his '65 AWB car with a few wheel configurations, at least one photo session and a few passes being with Cragars all around and front and/or back.

[In fact,] if one looks real close at a few fast, factory assisted Mopars in '63 you can detect slight adjustments. I suggest you find some profile shots of the name Mopars such as the Melrose Missle, Ramchargers etc. and compare with a bone stock car you'll see a difference. One might even take a look at a few hot '62 Mopars too. All this was only a few inches but it did add up to wheelbase alterations and the beginnings of it all.

Pete Mr. Hemi Haldiman replies:

Greetings Mopar Lovers!

As a result of this page in the '62 to '65 Mopar Web site I heard from the second owner of Landy's 1964. Robert Runyan, from Salt Lake City, bought the '64 from Landy in the Spring of 1965. The car was a running, turnkey race car. Mr. Runyan raced the car for two years and then sold it. The car was still running with the same engine/trans that had been purchased from Landy. Mr. Runyan said the car ran real well. He raced in "A/FX" and even took it to the 1966 Winternationals.

Regarding Joel Naprstek's comments, I would like to offer up the following observation: the title of the article is Landy's 1964 Dodge: The "First Funny Car" and not.....The "First Altered Wheelbase Car"!

The 1962-63 B bodies used rear springs that were 55" long, 20" forward of the axle. 1964-65 cars used 56" long springs, 21" forward of the axle, except that 1964 max-wedges, 1964 Hemis and 1965 Hemis used 56" long springs, 20" forward of the axle. Therefore, the later cars were altered-wheelbase cars compared to their production counterparts. Every 1964-65 Hemi was altered-wheelbase.

My view is that if wheels were just moved around an inch or two, cars could have been, and were, incorporated into the existing Stock, Super-Stock or Factory Experimental rules. The "pucky" hit the fan when Mopar tried to pass off its' 10"/15" wheel movements as "Factory". If the racers hadn't continued to radically alter their cars and if "match racing" hadn't become so popular with the fans, the funny car may have died early in 1965. The point is that 2" is not "Funny" and would not have culminated in the Funny Car class. In my opinion, wheels moved 6"/8" is clearly "funny".

Please, let's have more info on Golden's car! Landy was sponsored by the L.A. County Dodge Dealers while Golden was sponsored by the Orange County Dodge Dealers. It is entirely possible they shared thoughts. It's hard to believe Golden radically altered a car (and have it appear truly "Funny") using a torsion bar suspension. I await the proof.
Pete Haldiman, November 30, 2001

Update November 11, 2004:

Pete writes: Check out a book entitled, The Garlits Collection, Cars That Made Drag Racing History by Mike Mueller. Chapter 11 is on Landy's 1964 Dodge!
Thanks Pete, Greg and also Joel!!

This Dodge is TRULY a piece of Mopar history for certain!

Keep the comments coming and we can trace some cool Mopar history! :-)

1965 Plymouth altered wheelbase  altered wheelbae Mopars are a quite interesting part of Mopar history!

Gary H.

New Web section created November 1, 2001; revised November 25, 2001; November 30, 2001; December 2, 2001; November 11, 2004

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