SOMETIMES you’ve just got to be in the right place at the right time, and for Clifford Hoad, that place was the Pomona Swap Meet in 1991: “It was love at first sight. It was on the back of a trailer not running: a ’65 two-door Coronet pillarless coupe, my favourite two-door Mopar inspired by the original he recalls. Dick Landy altered-wheelbase Dodge, “I said to the guy selling it: ‘I’d He love said: to ‘I put know a Hemi in it like Dick Landy’s. Dick Landy; if you buy the car I’ll take you around to meet him.
At the time, Cliff was living in the US and touring with his band Kings Of The Sun, so he had all of the mechanical work on the car performed at Dick Landy Industries. It was a rust-free, very dry California car and the perfect platform for what Cliff wanted to achieve. “The car was an old navy-blue metalflake colour because it was a drag car. The fenderwells were all cut out where the crossram manifold used to go, but it had blown up and the car was put off the road and hadn’t been registered since ’68, he says.
Don’t forget, this was all happening in 1991-2, when there weren’t too many people – Aussies especially – who were hip to the fact that Mopar stuff was actually cool. But it also meant that Cliff’s time in the US was up and he had to get himself and the car back to sunny Queensland. Plus there was the small detail that you couldn’t even get a left-handdrive car registered in Queensland at the time! “I took from ’93 to ’94 taking the car back to bare metal and had Glen Henderson up in Brisbane paint it, Cliff says. “Got it all looking sensational, but I couldn’t register it. I was mad enough to bring the car back knowing I would never be able to drive it. I can’t remember when the rules changed, but I got caught up building the T-bucket [which we featured in SM Hot Rod #16] and with the band, so the car went into storage.
“It stayed like that until three years ago,” he continues. “It was up on blocks with blankets all over it and there was not a scratch on it; it just needed the brakes and radiator done to get it up and running again. It’s a miracle that I never sold it or that nothing ever happened to it, and I finally got it registered a couple of years ago.”
The Moparphiles out there will know that Hemis were never offered in the street cars in ’65, following their ban from NASCAR. There was no need to produce the requisite 500 road-going cars to meet the homologation rules, but that was okay because there were plenty of drag racers who had discovered the benefits of the magical Hemi, and Dodge sorted them out with the A990 Coronet, an out-and-out drag car that was stripped of anything that didn’t make it go faster. The body panels were even acid-dipped because fibreglass parts were outlawed in the Super Stock classes that year.
While Cliff has always had those cars as an inspiration, particularly the one campaigned by ‘Dandy’ Dick Landy, his car is no bare bones racer; it’s the top-of-the-line Coronet 500. “With the 500 you had the excessive trim pack, whereas with the 440 – like Landy’s he car – everything had been shaved off, explains. “I’ve kept all of the trim on the car, including the four-inch sill mouldings and the outrageous polished stainless trim around the roofline. It’s pretty lush, but there’s no power steering, although I did put power disc brakes and a vacuum pump on it. That gave me a little bit of worry when first had it; you’d put the brake on and you’d feel like the thing went three feet further than you wanted it to!”
Part of the reason for that poor brake performance was the lack of engine vacuum created by Landy’s secret race-grind camshaft. It’s a pretty angry-sounding beast, and could have been a lot angrier if Dick Landy had his way: “It had a high-rise Weiand tunnel-ram on it with two 1050 Dominator Holleys, but I didn’t want to cut a hole in the bonnet, Cliff says. Instead, a low-rise dual-quad intake was installed and paired with a couple of 750cfm Carter AFB carbs – this was dubbed the Street Hemi package, as opposed to the magnesium crossram intake that the race Hemis ran.
Although he’s owned the car for over 25 years and has only recently started enjoying it, Cliff thinks the time is right to let someone else enjoy it. “If I was to have sold the car 15 year ago it probably would have ended up with Convo Pros on it, a rollcage and tubs, he says. “I’ve tried to keep the car in a time bubble of when it was built in the early 90s as a tribute to Landy’s mid-60s vibe, and that’s why it is what it is. It has drag racing history, not in the sense that it’s Landy’s drag car, but the guy worked his magic on the car and he taught me lots of stuff while it was being built – and I listened.
So, if you’re keen on owning a piece of legendary Dick Landy Mopar DNA, get muscle in touch. with a s fair chunk of Dick Landy DNA, get in touch.
Paint: PPG custom turquoise
DONK Type: Chrysler 426 Hemi
Inlet: Aluminium Chrysler dual-quad Street Hemi Carb: Twin Carter AFB 750s
Heads: Chrysler iron, lightly ported
Valves: 2.25in (in), 1.94in (ex)
Cam: Landy’s secret race grind
Pistons: JE 10.5:1
Crank: Chrysler forged
Exhaust: Landy 21/8in custom headers, twin 3in system, Borla mufflers
Ignition: Tweaked by Landy
Box: Art Carr 727 Torqueflite
Converter: Street Hemi
Diff: 8¾in Mopar, 4.10:1 gears
Front end: Stock torsion bar
Rear end: De-arched leaf springs
Shocks: Monroe (f & r)
Steering: Police close-ratio
Brakes: Chrysler four-spot discs (f), 11in drums (r)
Rims: Cragar S/S; 15x6 (f), 15x8 (r)
Rubber: Goodyear Eagle GA 215/70R15 (f), Pro-Trac Street Pro 275/60R15 (r)
THANKS Eric Buckley for introducing me to Mopar royalty, the Landy family; the late Dick Landy, an American racing legend of the like we will never see again. The car was at Dick’s shop for one year and in that time I saw it come to life under the very capable hands of Dick, Robert and Michael Landy; Bob Mosher of Melrose Missile fame for helping me bring the 1965 era to life; master painter Glen Henderson who took it back to bare metal and sprayed the classic blue; Lachlan Welsh for his wonderful anodising and chroming abilities; Kevin and Jason Kent of KKR for keeping the Hemi tuned and fire-breathing; John Cook; Gary, Max and Karl from Woody’s Electrics Mermaid Beach; Dave Tranter of Transmec Motors; Jim Lau of Gold Coast Muscle Cars; David Kerr for great advice; Simon (Chunk) Koschel for helping me display the car