STP’s 1967 Indy 500 Turbine is a sure winner this time!
Say turbine car and Indianapolis 500 and most car lovers and race fans will picture the 1967 STP-sponsored day-glo red racer that Parnelli Jones darned near drove to victory that year.
It was nicknamed Silent Sam and the Whooshmobile for its turbine power that sounded like a jet whooshing by at 160+ mph while all the other Indy racers grumbled and roared with their internal combustion engines. The car set the racing world on edge, threatened the establishment and yet was a fan favorite.
While a plastic model was made of the car almost immediately at the time, Replicarz now is the first diecast car maker to deliver a high-quality detailed 1/18 scale version of the car Jones drove to within 4 laps of an Indy win. It took a while, but the wait was worth it. And the Indy icon appears just as the Indianapolis 500 is set to run its 100th race this May. Timing could hardly be better.
The STP-Paxton turbine was the brainchild of designer Ken Wallis and Andy Granatelli, a former racer and then head of STP, a division of Studebaker Corp. Granatelli had championed the powerful Novi racer for years and always was looking for an advantage to help him win the Indy 500. That led him to buy Ferguson Formula 4-wheel-drive to first team with the Novi engine and for 1967, Wallis’ turbine power, a Pratt & Whitney Canada ST6B-62 turbine. It ran in a space frame chassis with the turbine mounted on the left side of the chassis while the driver’s cockpit was alongside on the right. Continue reading Die-cast: Replicarz’s 1967 Paxton (STP) Turbine→
By 1971 Al Unser was no longer just Bobby Unser’s younger brother, he was a 2-time Indianapolis 500 winner, while Bobby had won just once.
The decidedly quieter, more humble Al had wisely hooked up with Parnelli Jones’ team and had the dominant PJ Colt chassis and a Ford V8 engine behind him. That helped Al lead 190 of the 200 laps after winning the pole position as fastest qualifier in 1970. He would not only win Indy that and the following year, but the Indy Car National Championship in 1970.
Unser and the team also were lucky to have the colorful sponsorship of Johnny Lightning, a then new die-cast toy car maker that was challenging the likes of Hot Wheels and Matchbox. The result was a colorful bright blue racer with yellow lightning bolts in 1970 and a darker blue version with those same electric bolts for 1971. Every kid in America knew this car and its color scheme.
Mark and I get to drive some really cool cars but never the STP Lotus Type 56. An AutoWeek reporter did. Boy there’s not much we wouldn’t do to get a ride in that bad boy. I loved the STP turbines and Andy Granatelli. I am also a big fan of Parnelli Jones who came just a couple of laps shy of winning the 1967 Indy 500 had it not been for a $6 part. This really freaked out the Indy establishment that an engine with no pistons could win their race and slapped on some intake restrictions so it couldn’t do it again. That didn’t bother Granatelli who called on Colin Chapman to build the Type 56 Lotus, the car you see here. Unlike the ’67 turbine where the turbine sat next to Jones, the design had the turbine located behind the driver instead of next to him making the Lotus go faster.
You could drive it but….
You’d have to come up with at least a half a million bucks because that’s the neighborhood the gavel will drop at the Barrett-Jackson Auction January 17th in Scottsdale, AZ. Even if Mark and I both sold our homes and everything else we would still be short of the winning bid. Plus, if we did win it, we’d pretty much be sleeping by it in some storage shed. Bummer.
1970-71 Al Unser cars coming soon, plus Blue Crown Specials
I recently got a chance to see some pre-production photos of Replicarz’s latest Indy 500 die-cast models, these in 1:43 scale. So thought I’d share them with my die-hard die-cast fans.
Replicarz, the Vermont-based die-cast model distributor has been cranking out beautiful 1:18 scale IndyCar models for several years now and more are on the way. But next out, by late fall to early winter, are the firm’s first 1:43 Indy racers.
Brian Fothergill of Replicarz says the company will offer the 1970 and 1971 Indianapolis 500 winners, both driven by Al Unser, available in 1:43 scale at $89.99. The cars are both PJ Colt designs, the PJ in this case standing for Parnelli Jones, one of the team owners for Unser’s first two Indy wins. Continue reading NEWS: Replicarz plans 1:43 Indy winners→
Ford’s Mustang was the Boss of Trans-Am racing in the early 1970s with the likes of Parnelli Jones and George Follmer winning regularly to put Chevy, Plymouth and AMC on notice.
Scalextric has been mining that popular muscle car vein with is fast and furious 1:32 slot car lineup for several years. Racers in our slot car group have been buying Scalextric Mustangs and Camaros for years because they are fast – period. They also stir our memories of Trans-Am races from the golden age of muscle and pony car racing, the 1970s.
The latest Scalextric offering is a Grabber Green 1969 Mustang fastback driven in part of the 1972 Trans-Am season by little known Mike Folsom with Libre Racing International. Team results were nothing exciting, but this slightly turquoise leaning green Mustang was a hit with fans. One reason, it was the only factory-Grabber Green Mustang created by the factory for racing.
I hate to see a car company go out of business, or car line dropped, especially being such a big AMC guy. Most likely the cars they produced utilized several innovations to separate them from their competition. The rear engine Chevy Corvair, Unibody Construction by American Motors, and Electroluminescent instrument panel lighting by Chrysler. Of course there are tons of others. One that Mercury utilized was the The Breezeway window in the mid 60’s. Mercury did this in an attempt to differentiate itself from the the Fords they were based on. The thought behind the concept was that a driver would open the vents in the dashboard then the back window and have fresh air flowing through the car. Because the roof was slanted, no rain would get in. Hmmm, I’m thinking air conditioning would have worked better here.
The concept got good reviews
The automotive trades liked the Breezeway. Motor Trend pointed out in a test of a Monterey Custom sedan for its March 1963 issue, “The window has three primary advantages, all equally valuable as far as we’re concerned. There is, of course, more head room for rear seat passengers than with the window sloped in the regular manner. The window’s roof overhang provides a generous sunshade for the rear seat. … Finally, the window opens, operated by a dash control, and is very handy as a ventilation aid.” Car Life liked it too. “About the styling of the current Mercurys, we can only say that the ‘notch-back’ rear window provides the best ventilation and rearward visibility we’ve yet found on a ’63 car,” it said, but added, “It does make the rear-end appear abnormally long.”
But then they kind of mucked it up.
It did differentiate the Mercury line from the Fords but then for the 1963 model year Mercury added a more conventional-looking Marauder hardtop to the line, sharing the sleek “slantback” roof of the 1963-1/2 big Fords. The slantback roof had been introduced for the benefit of Ford’s NASCAR racers, and its appearance on the Marauder was intended to support Mercury’s own return to racing in 1963. I remember Parnelli Jones driving one at the Milwaukee Mile. Yawn…Mercury buyers weren’t blown away by the looks of the Breezeway, and Mercury’s total 1963 sales were down nearly 40,000 units from 1962; the compact and mid-size lines outsold the big Breezeway cars by a significant margin. Sales were little better the face-lifted ’64s, which deleted the four-door hardtop Breezeway in favor of a four-door version of the Marauder hardtop. Business rallied a bit for ’65 and ’66, but model-for-model sales of the full-size cars were depressing; only the four-door sedans broke into the five-figure range. Off into the sunset the Breezeway went.
A tough car to find now
On my search for Breezeway now I found the pickings slim but not expensive, mostly around 8 grand, but these would essentially be project cars and not show cars. Not that they couldn’t be and if you’re looking for that, there are some good deals. Good examples of the promotional model cars are also hard to find but of course a lot easier on the finances although not cheap. You can find plenty of restoration projects for well under $100 on the action sites and if you’re good at modeling, they would be pretty easy to fix up and maybe even take it to the next level like in this previous post.
But for you who want the car, maybe just one like you owned, or are that collector looking for that one last color be prepared to pay around 300 bucks and up. Going to one of my favorite places to shop for cars (please don’t tell my wife) is Wheat’s Nostalgia. Joe has a couple of cars up for sale. This 1964 above is one of the best examples around. Graded a 10 out of 10, just like it left the factory. Besides having the box, this one has no scratches (tough to find) no warping, chrome and class are outstanding. While your dad may have given you one like this back in 1964 and maybe paid 2 bucks for it, this one is going for $610. Think about it, 2 bucks in ’64 and 610 now. Not too bad. Joe also has (or had) a couple of other Breezeways, also 1964’s. This white one is a 9. Most collectors would be quite satisfied with a model which has this grading as it is near mint. A “9” might have some rather minor chrome rubs, re-plated original chrome, or possibly a tiny paint imperfection but nothing broken or missing. $525 and it’s yours to take home. This black one, again a hardtop, went for $315. Finding one in black is difficult. I really like the look of the 2-door hardtops. So if you’re in search for another project, there are plenty of them on eBay. No worries because there are tons of resources to help you out and you will see in the links below. If you’re stuck, shoot me the question and I’ll do my best to connect you with the people who can help make your project a perfect 10.
Replicarz announces Tom Sneva Indy 500 pole car from 1984
I know I’m prejudiced, but I love Indy cars. Born in Indy, have been going to races since 1962 … yikes I’m old!
I mean real race cars don’t have roofs, right?
Well, the folks at Replicarz in Vermont understand that and just keep the cool new Indy die-cast racers coming. I know I’ve gone on and on about the Marmon Wasp, but it’s almost here. Replicarz assures me it’ll be out in MAY, appropriately. AND, look for another batch of modern-era rear-engine racers then too.First, the Wasp itself looks to be spectacular. The highly detailed replica of the 1911 Indy 500 winner, says Brian Fothergill of Replicarz, has been tweaked even further to ensure authenticity and create a show stopper. He notes that the engine will be wired and that the end of the Wasp’s stinger tail will be painted flat black to add depth.But next up in May is the 1984 Indy pole winner’s car, the Texaco Star driven by the Gas Man, Tom Sneva.