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The Ramchargers 1961 Dodge Super Stock car

The Ramchargers first Super Stock car -- A 1961 Dodge Dart 2 door hardtop with a 413 cu.in V8 and three speed manual transmission. The car was originally slated for NASCAR.

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Ramchargers Stories - from Mike Buckel Part 05: The First Super Stocker - the 1961 Dodge

By Mike Buckel and Society Staff – reprint with permission only

In the late spring of 1961 the Ramchargers High & Mighty C/Altered car was history and had been scrapped. The huge Chrysler layoffs in March of '61 had just decimated the Ramchargers roster. In spite of that, the next logical thought for the group was to get into the super stock wars, that was heating up at the time. Ford, Chevrolet and Pontiac were actively involved, but there was no Chrysler Corporation cars represented.

A proposal was developed and Jim Thornton, Tom Hoover and Dan Mancini made an appointment to present the proposal to the General Manager of Plymouth. Dave Rockwell's totally accurate book, We Were the Ramchargers describes how they were politely given the gate with the comment, "We don't build hot rods."

Dragging their tails all the way back to Central Engineering, Jim found a call slip on his desk from Frank Wylie at Dodge and the rest is history. The Ramchargers now had a 1961 Dodge Dart 2 door hardtop with a 413 engine and 3 speed standard transmission.

I arrived in late June fresh from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a brand new '61 Ford my dad gave me as a graduation present. My total knowledge of Chrysler cars was what I discovered at the local Chrysler/Plymouth dealer. The cars were ugly and full of quirky things like push button transmissions and square steering wheels. I did not yet know about the left-handed lug nuts and the tapered axle shaft ends.

Having met all the Ramchargers within a week of my arrival I was assigned, along with Dale Reeker, the task of lightening the car received from Dodge. We scraped body sealer for many nights and then started with the tin snips. The door inner panels would just barely support the trim panels, door handles and window winders. Every other seat spring was removed except under and behind the driver.

Meanwhile Tom Hoover and Dan Mancini were building the engine and headers. The engine was 0.060" over 413 for 426 ci. It had flat top pistons and the heads and block were severely cut to get more than 13:1 compression ratio. Blown head gaskets were a frequent problem. Hoover left off the expanders behind the oil rings to reduce friction. The car burned so much oil that at the finish line it was not visible from the starting line.

Jim Thornton designed the cam, which at 292 degrees duration was more cam then had ever been run in a B-engine. Valve gear was C-300 hardware. Intake manifold was the "over the valve covers" long ram - modified to be a short ram.

Having no understanding of exhaust tuning, the headers were built for flow. They went out the fender shields over and down behind the front tires. Many short, 2 to 3 inch, pieces of tubing allowed the cross section area to gradually increase as additional pipes were added.

Back then super stocks had to run mufflers and a streetable exhaust system. A system was quickly fabricated and was used to run-in the engine. In spite of the many leaks, Jim Thornton drove the car around for several evenings. I rode in the back seat during one of these excursions, and when he floored it, I felt like I was rolling into the trunk because of the few seat springs and no support behind the rear seat! It did impress!

Next time we will go racing in the '61 Super Stock.


Click HERE for previous intallments.

1961 Dodge Dart B/S configuration

The 413 in a 1961 Dodge Dart

The Ramcharger engine header fabrication-- only the right side fresh air was installed

Super Stock Dodge and Mike Buckel's 1961 Ford tow car.