A Guest Column for 1962 to 1965 Mopar Fans!
Do you have a story to tell about 1962 to 1965 Mopars? Send it in and we will try to post it for others to enjoy!
LANDY'S 1964 DODGE: THE "FIRST FUNNY CAR"
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".
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
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 1964 DODGE AND ITS PEERS
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 1964 DODGE HISTORY
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.
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.
LANDY'S 1964 DODGE IN THE MEDIA
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
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
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
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! :-)
altered wheelbae Mopars are a quite interesting part of Mopar history!
New Web section created November 1, 2001; revised November 25, 2001; November 30, 2001; December 2, 2001; November 11, 2004