The exhaust cackled a bit as we slowed, the turn-off was about an 1/8th mile past the ‘finish’ line. That was when I noticed that the runway/drag strip was at least a half mile long. It was hard to tell exactly in the dark but apparently the twins’ daddy is flying more than just prop driven aircraft from this field. Molly had pulled in right behind me before we got to the turn off and was now following us back to front end.
I wasn’t sure where we would get the times and neither of us saw what the boards were displaying as we flew by them but it sure seemed like Kelly was pretty sure we came up short.
As we drove back to the front, Molly pulled alongside, rolled her window down and was giving us a huge smile and thumbs up. I wasn’t sure what that meant but then she waved a ‘follow me’ sort of gesture so we fell in behind them.
When we got back to the front where the control panel was, Molly stopped the Snake so we pulled along side and let the GN idle to cool down. I knew it was a solid run, probably a low 9 but it was hard to be sure. We launched hard and it felt like we had a solid 60-footer but I needed a time slip to get the data. The Scanmaster showed low KRs and solid O2s so I knew the tune was safe. I just wanted a slip…
We sat there and watched the girls get out of the big serpent (did I mention how jaw dropping Molly’s driving/shifting was? DAMN!) and walk up to the control panel. After she pressed a few keys on the panel, I saw some paper being disbursed – wow, these guys have it all!
Holly took the paper from the machine and looked over it with Molly as they slowly walked back to the cars. By this time, Kel and I were out of the GN, waiting to see what it was that they had in hand.
“Steve, this is amazing. Look…” She handed us the slips – The monster Super Snake ran a 9.296. The GN – ran a 9.288!
That was a difference of only .008 of a second. But the most amazing part to me wasn’t that the GN hung with the big Shelby – it was that Molly drove an uber-high HP manual transmission car to within .008 of the auto-equipped GN!
“Molly – I’ve got to tell you; your driving/shifting is incredible. Where did you learn to drive like that?” I was dead serious – I’ve never seen a better driver than Molly, no one. And I’ve seen and driven against the best in the business.
Both girls glanced at each other, their dark hair getting tossed by the gentle breeze, and then grinned.
“Shoot, Steve. Our daddy had us driving stick cars before we got our licenses. And Holly here is actually even better than I am – I probably should have let HER drive! We might have beat y’all! Hahaha!!”
“So, how old are you girls?” asked Kelly.
“Well, we’ll be 20 in a couple of months. Don’t that sound so old?” laughed Molly. They both giggled like 7th graders at that one. And man, did Kelly and I feel old when she said it! Oh, to be 20 years old again – and to be able to drive like THAT. Wow.
“Listen guys, I don’t know if you’ve heard about a little soiree we’ve got coming up this weekend? We’ve got a drag race coming up that ESPN and SPEED are covering and it is centered around factory freaks but we’re also going to – “
They both were laughing. “Oh, we know about it guys! We’re already entered!”
“You are? Great! Are you bringing the Shelby and your Z06 or GT-R?” I asked.
Holly glanced at Molly, a nervous smile on her face. “Should we show them?”
Molly thought for a moment, smiling at Kelly and me. “Why not? They’ll see our cars this weekend anyways. Steve? Kelly? Follow us, we have a couple of cars we’re sure you will find interesting…”
They got back in the Shelby and that was when I noticed for the first time the small sticker in the rear window. ‘KONG’.
As Kelly and I shut the doors of the GN, I asked her, “Did you see that KONG sticker in the Mustang’s rear window?”
“Oh Steve, I saw that back on Reynolds – I thought that was why you wanted to race them!” We both laughed at that one. I told you – Kelly has an eye for detail that never ceases to amaze me…
We drove back towards the war birds - noticing that there was a third one a ways back behind the Corsair but not sure what it was - and turned off onto another section of drive towards a dark two story building that had garage doors across the front – 8 of them. We hadn’t noticed this on the way in because it was off to the side.
As the Shelby turned towards the building, one of the garage doors came up and bright white light spilled out into the night and onto the pavement just outside the door. Also, several area flood lights came on, illuminating the front of the building and apron. Honestly, it was almost blinding.
The Shelby pulled on into the wide door – it had to be at least 10’ wide – and we pulled up and stopped just outside, shut down the GN and got out to walk in. Already, we could see what looked to be a garage that would rival any of the best new car dealers in the world, with several lifts and more tool chests than I had ever seen.
But that wasn’t the best part. The cars…
“Over there, that gray Vette? That’s Holly’s car.” Up on a rack was a Cyber Gray Z06.
“ Yeah, that one’s getting a Twin Turbo setup installed. And, that red Nissan over there is my GT-R, I love that car!” chimed in Holly as she pointed to the squatty Godzilla sitting silent and sinister two bays over.
I looked around and saw that the building had to be at least 40’ deep, maybe more. There were multiple walk through doors and stair ways with at least two different sets of elevators visible from where we were standing.
“See that car over there Steve? That one’s mine too” smiled Molly. I glanced in the direction she was pointing and noticed the small boxy look of a MOPAR with an unusual paint scheme. It was white in color but the front clip was flat black and the hood scoop was enormous. It had to be only one thing…
“Is that an honest to God Hemi Dart, Molly?”
“It sure is!” she beamed with pride. My daddy got that for me when I graduated school. We went out to Vegas to visit Uncle Carol and his new wife a couple of years ago and found this car at the Russo & Steel auction house. He surprised me with it! It is a handful to drive and it’s really not street legal but I still take it out once in a while just to have some fun.”
I walked over and peered in the Lexan windows. A Spartan interior was evident, the four speed shifter prominently visible next to the driver’s seat. Walking around front, I peered into the hood scoop and could see the tops of two mammoth 4-barrel carburetors, knowing they were sitting on top of probably the world’s most famous motor – the 426 ci Hemi.
“Wow Molly, Holly. You guys have some place here and the cars are awesome. This is really nice. Is this what you’re bringing Sunday?”
“Nope, neither one. Follow us through that walk through door over yonder and you’ll see what we’re bringing… I doubt you’ve ever heard of these two cars, much less seen them but you never know…”
We made our way to the far side of the service bay and Holly flipped two switches just outside a solid steel door. With a small ‘hiss’ a panel opened up with an illuminated key pad on which Holly tapped a series of numbers/letters which was immediately followed by a very loud click and some whirring noises behind (inside?) the massive dark gray door.
“Daddy got this door from a bank that went out of business. It’s probably over kill but we keep our really good stuff in here and not many people have ever seen the inside of this room.”
With a louder, deeper hum, the massive steel door swung open, with more light flooding – and hurting – our eyes as we tried to adjust. This service bay was a fraction in size of the one we just walked through but it was set up every bit as thorough, including four lifts and all the tools, air hose connections, exhaust ports – and a DYNO – that one could ever imagine. And not Harbor Freight stuff either – this was all high dollar pro-grade.
“Over there, those are what we’re bringing Sunday.” Molly pointed to two cars parked near the overhead doors with covers on them. With the black covers on, it was impossible to tell what they were.
Kelly leaned against me ‘Is that closest one a late-60’s car? The other one looks like it might be some sort of sports car, some sort of two seater?”
“I don’t know Kel but I think we’re about to find out.”
Molly walked to the nearest car, Holly to the far one. Both girls grabbed the rear part of the covers and grinned, knowing they were teasing us with delaying the reveal.
“Any ideas guys?” asked Molly, gently tugging the fabric...
“Not really – c’mon, you’re killing us here! What are they?”
“Ok, here ya go…” and with that, the covers were yanked off. To say we were stunned is the understatement of the year.
“Damn Kel, do you believe that? Is that what I think it is?”
“I have no idea what you’re thinking it is Steve but I’m guessing it has to be – I’ve never seen one of them before. And - look at that one that Holly is standing near – do you believe it?”
The HVAC kicked on and the sound of air moving was the only noise in the shop, well, other than the hum from the lights, well, and our pounding hearts.
Because we were staring at two cars that weren’t supposed to even exist.
But, like Frankie, somehow – if our eyes weren’t playing tricks – someone, saved them. And we were less than 20 feet away from both of them.
One was a GM, the other a Pontiac. The GM was the developmental mule for the C3 Corvette – it was the MAKO SHARK body that was seen as a concept car at car shows decades ago. But – this one was a coupe and it didn’t have the split window the ’63 eventually was built with.
“You’re right – I’ve never seen a coupe Mako concept car before…”
GM had publicly said the engine was anything from a base 327 to a massaged 409 but insiders said it was something far better – it was actually a Paxton blown, bored and stroked aluminum big-block 427/ZL1 forerunner mated to an experimental 3 speed Turbo-hydramatic that never made production.
The Vette/Shark was mesmerizing. It was painted a very deep blue fading to a lighter gray at the bottom side of the car. It had chrome side-piped exhaust; the lines of what would become the ’63 Stingray very evident but more aggressive, more pronounced.
We forgot about the second car for a moment and walked over to look at the Mako up close. By the time we got there, Molly had the hood up, revealing a motor that had a very wide set of orange valve covers and plumbing everywhere, the largest pieces of which went to/from the Paxton blower at the front of the motor.
I ran my hands over the lines of the car, mulling over the historical value this machine represented.
“How in the world did you guys get a hold of this car, Molly?”
“Daddy bought (she held up both hands and did the gesture implying quotation marks with the word ‘bought’) it years ago. He used to be a big GM exec and worked closely with Mr. Mitchell back in the day. When the order came down to destroy this mule, Daddy got it out the back door somehow and it’s been with him ever since. It couldn’t be titled because there was never an MSO for it but Daddy didn’t care, it’s one of one. Amazingly, Mr. Mitchell never told anyone, even though daddy said he used to stop by our old house a couple of times a year just to look at and sit in this car. One time, Daddy said he even brought Mr. Shinoda with him. I guess it meant a lot to both of them...”
“Check this one out y’all” said Holly as she swung her arm over towards the other car. I bet you’ve never seen one of these before either, have you?”
I followed Kelly around the Mako and over near the Pontiac. At first glance, it looked like a late ‘60’s GTO but it also had a look similar to a ‘69 Firebird having quad headlights. But, it was too big to be a Firebrid mule, it had to be something used for GTO development.
“What the heck is that Holly?” asked Kelly. I knew Kelly would be interested – she has always had a sweet spot for the GTOs.
“Well, Kelly, it’s actually the car used to develop the ’70 Judge but it’s based on the ‘68/’69 body style. I’m not sure how they made this up this way but it’s really weird to look at, isn’t it?”
We both nodded but still admired the lines.
“So what’s under this one’s hood?” I asked.
“Oh, just a little 455 with a few tweaks using their Ram Air IV technology. And, two big Holley 4 barrels. Check this out…”
She lifted the hood and we peered into the cavernous engine bay, noting the rubber seal above the air cleaner that mated to a section of the hood for cold air intake.
“This hood never made production but if you look closely, it’s similar to what’s on the ’70 GTO but this one has scoops like the ‘69’s had but wider. I actually like it better than either hood they used.”
“What’s the transmission?” I asked. “It’s actually a Muncie Rock Crusher but with specially hardened internals. The clutch is actually a power assisted model that never made production but it helps some. It’s really pretty easy to clutch and shift, given the technology back then.” Explained Holly.
“Any idea what these are rated, power wise?” I asked.
“Well, we’ve had them on the dyno but for now, let’s just say they were really under rated. The most amazing number isn’t the horsepower though – both of these engines make enough torque to pull a train!”
Just then, we heard a noise behind us, a slight cough and some approaching foot steps. With our backs to the door and facing the girls, we saw their faces light up with huge smiles before we turned to look.
“Daddy, you’re still up! Look who we met tonight!”
Kelly and I turned to meet the girls’ father, wondering just who this guy could be. But, when we saw his face, to say we were shocked would be an understatement.
He looked a little older, the hair a little more gray, the eyes a little darker set since we had last seen him. But there was no mistaking who he was, especially when he spoke...
"Hi Steve, good evening, Kelly... It's been a while, hasn't it?"
To be continued…