Rowan Horncastle30 September 2013

For sale: wheelie drag cars

The famous ‘Hemi Under Glass’ collection is up for grabs. All four of them…

Own a small payday loan company? Struggling to get brand recognition? Need a new advertising tool? Well, Top Gear has what you need... four times over: the incredibly wheelielicious Hemi Under Glass collection. Never heard of it? Then sit up straight, tuck in your chair andtake notes.

In 1964, George Hurst wanted to build a dragster to promote his new range of aftermarket parts. He knew speed was the answer, so spoke to Hot Rod Magazine's Ray Brock. Brock said that he should slot a massive Hemi engine under the rear window of a Plymouth Barracuda (hence the name ‘Hemi Under Glass'), resulting in excellent weight transfer and big speed off the line.

Ray was wrong.

Having that big, powerful engine so far back gave stupendous weight transfer. To the point where the car would pivot all the way back to the rear bumper, giving the driver a seating position similar to an astronaut preparing for space. It would also do monumental wheelies down the quarter mile at the merest whiff of accelerator. It wasn't the original plan, but provided the exact publicity Hurst was after. The cars got so vertical Hurst could put advertisements on the bottom, to reveal the most bonkers billboards in the world.

The original car toured the country and became a familiar drag strip spectacle, but was unfortunately destroyed after the '66 season. However, when Plymouth re-styled the Barracuda in 1967, George decided to build another one. That went down with the crowds equally as well. So he built another one in '68, and then a '69 model in 2010, which like the '68, had a solidly mounted driveline. This was because the earlier cars had a separate subframe that stepped out to make the Plymouth wheelie even higher. But this was deemed too scary, so they changed it and added a supercharger. Because nothing solves a problem like more power.

Bill Sefton, the owner of the collection, even built a replica of the original Hemi Under Glass so the whole family was reunited. And the pack of four are being auctioned off in one lot on Saturday, October 12, at the Mecum Chicago Auction.

A word of caution: we'd recommend practicing your driving skills. Only two people have ever driven the crazy ‘Cudas, and driving a car on its back wheels with no steering is quite hard. Especially when all you can see is sky. Who wants to give it a go?

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