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Todd Werner's Collection of Factory Lightweights and Vintage Racers is Shocking

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 2015-09-11 Douglas Glad

It was like discovering the lost ark, King Solomon's mine, or the lost TV remote right before the Super Bowl.

Todd Werner's Collection of Factory Lightweights and Vintage Racers is Shocking

We were standing slack jawed at the entrance to Todd Werner's mega garage trying to comprehend how one person could possibly own so many of the greatest muscle cars of all time. The answer is luck partly, but money mostly.

Even the average stuff in Todd's garage is far from average. We noted a Baldwin Motion Camaro with the original caramel paint and BM stickers under the hood, a rare export big-block Corvette, and the first Hemi-powered convertible B-body. To eclipse the spectacle of original Shelbys, fuelie 1957 Bel Air convertibles, and rare Pontiacs lined up in a tidy row, you need some crown jewels. The best-of-the-best race-versions of the greatest muscle cars ever did the trick.

We were trying to hate the guy until we met him in person and received a dose of his enthusiasm for the machines. Todd's a likable self-made guy who started fixing office equipment in High School. He parlayed his successes into a major-league company that he traded for cash--lots of it. When he began collecting, he started with Boss 429 Mustangs and Hemi 'Cudas with no concept that you could find the racing versions that made these cars famous. A Sox and Martin Mopar changed all that.

Some of these cars are restored, but in a way that includes most or all of the parts that were with the car when it was raced. The B029 Hemi Barracuda built by Dave Christy for Ronnie Sox has reconditioned paint, but otherwise it is the car that raced. "How much of this car went down the track?" is the question that gets asked. The more original parts, the better, and some of these cars have been garaged for decades, perfectly preserved.

Other cars were not so lucky, racers race and modify, so there are a couple of cars in the house that have been changed so much that little is left but the basic body and hundreds of vintage photos. When one of these cars is found, a treasure hunt ensues to get the cars back to how they were. When the cars come out of the barn, Todd relies on the original guys who often possess seldom-seen photos and paperwork, like Herb McCandless, who is personally helping to reconstruct his Sox and Martin 1972 Dodge Demon that famously stood on the bumper for a magazine cover in 1972.

These cars belong to Ronny Sox and Dick Landy and the guys who raced them. I am fortunate enough to care for these cars. -Todd Werner

They aren't dead horses either, Todd is honored to drive them and pays respect to the wicked muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s by taking time to drive Dick Landy's Challenger or Hayden Proffitt's altered wheelbase Comet to get a cheeseburger on Saturday night.

Even though the cars are beyond impressive Todd is careful not to beat up on the little guy at car shows. The cars are displayed only for entertainment and education; they've already earned their trophies. "Educate and get educated, depending on who you are talking to. We open up the jewelry box (the trailer) and unload the nostalgia. The guys remember where and when they first saw them--it is the power of these vehicles," says Todd. "They don't belong hidden in a closet."

"In muscle car collecting, the Hemi 'Cuda is the icon and the Sox and Martin car is the reason why. There are hundreds of thousands of racecars but the cars that rose to the top and won the championships were the best. They were the cars everyone was gunning for," Todd says.

"These cars represented the man and the team to beat during the muscle car boom; it's what most guys remember. The factory and the racer came together to create a history. People have their own experiences and pictures of these cars as opposed to a factory car with few owners and few experiences. They were public, and the public remembered, worshiped photographed and shared them."

Todd told us that these race cars are a special kind of purchase, making those special kinds of cars. Here's part of his impressive collection.

Sox and Martin 1970 Plymouth 'Cuda

Sox And Martin Cuda © Provided by Hotrod Sox And Martin Cuda

The 'Cuda raced and won the NHRA Spring Nationals in Dallas, Texas, during the 1970 season running low 10s and dipping into the 9s in the Pro Stock class. It's famous because the car was dominant during the first year of Pro Stock making Sox and Martin pioneers in the racing class. It's also the only Sox and Martin E-body 'Cuda with a factory VIN. Chrysler sent them a car right before the racing season started, to complete in the new class. Later cars were delivered as bodies in white, to be built by the Sox and Martin team. After the racing season, the car was purchased by another racer who campaigned it in SS/DA before turning up in restored condition at the Chrysler's at Carlisle show in Pennsylvania where it was purchased by Todd.

Quick Specs
Driver: Ronnie Sox
Class: GT1/Pro Stock
Engine: 426 Hemi
Rear gear: Dana 60/4.88:1
Cam: Solid roller
Transmission: A-833 slick-shift four-speed
Intake/carb: Chrysler prototype, tunnel ram with twin 4500 series carbs

Sox And Martin Hemi Cuda

Sox And Martin Hemi Cuda
© Provided by Hotrod

Hayden Proffitt 1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone

Hayden Proffitt Cyclone © Provided by Hotrod Hayden Proffitt Cyclone

This car is significant because there are so few SOHC Cammer Fords from the factory, especially with four-speed transmission. In 1964, Chrysler came up with the Hemi and began to win in both NASCAR and drag racing. FoMoCo built the Cammer engine to regain their dominance and started to put them into drag cars after being outlawed in NASCAR. Four 1965 Mercury Comets were factory built with the 427 Cammer engine and delivered to four racers, Dyno Don Nicolson, Arnie Beswick, Eddie Schartman, and Hayden Proffitt. The cars were heavily modified to make room for the large 427 SOHC engines. The battery was moved to the trunk for weight transfer and the inner and outer fenders, hood, and bumpers were made from fiberglass. Proffitt picked his up with carburetors and a stock wheelbase. After losing as few races in A/FX, Hayden received fuel injection and plans to alter the wheelbase from Ford. The car raced with an altered wheelbase until the end of the 1966 season.

Quick Specs
Driver: Hayden Proffitt
Class: AF/X
Engine: SOHC 427 "Cammer"
Rear gear: 9-inch
Cam: Single overhead cams
Transmission: Top Loader four-speed
Intake/carb: Two fours on a low rise manifold (early), Hilborn injection (late)

Hayden Proffitt Cyclone © Provided by Hotrod Hayden Proffitt Cyclone Hayden Proffitt Cyclone © Provided by Hotrod Hayden Proffitt Cyclone

1964 Lightweight Dodge 330 Sedan

Lightweight Dodge 330 Sedan © Provided by Hotrod Lightweight Dodge 330 Sedan

This is an original lightweight two-door sedan equipped with a 12.5:1 compression A-864 426 race Hemi that was supplied to Barnes Core Drilling and raced in SS/A class as the Snorkasaurus IV out of Bakersfield, California. It is an original car that was never cut up or altered. It was painted and raced during the 1964 and 1965 seasons and retired with only 500 miles on the odometer. The fenders, hood, grille, and even the front bumper are all factory aluminum to reduce weight. The Hemi is strictly for racing with aluminum cross-ram and twin 4BBL carburetors. The Hemi TorqeFlite 727 automatic is shifted using a pushbutton on the console and the interior consisted of thin red panels on the aluminum doors, vinyl buckets with lightweight seat brackets and deleted rear seats, lightweight carpet, ratio and heater delete, and zero sound deadener or padding. The car ran in the 11s.

Quick Specs
Driver: Factory Car Snorkasaurus
Class: SS/A
Engine: 426 Hemi
Rear gear: 4.88:1
Cam: Solid mechanical flat tappet
Transmission: 727 TorqueFlite 2,600-rpm stall
Intake/carb: Aluminum cross-ram manifold two Holley 4BBLs

Lightweight Dodge 330 Sedan

Lightweight Dodge 330 Sedan
© Provided by Hotrod

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Arnie Beswick

Arnie Beswick Gto © Provided by Hotrod Arnie Beswick Gto

The GTO Judge raced in 1969 as a Pontiac sponsored stock class car. There was a whole bunch of GTOs built and a lot of them judges. What makes this car special? It's the GTO Judge that was given to Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick and named The Judge by Pontiac. The Ram Air IV engine was hand-built by Pontiac engineers to give Arnie the opportunity to dominate the class and advertise the new car for Pontiac. Every piece of this car went down the track with Arnie in 1969; it has 1,738 miles on it.

Quick Specs
Driver: Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick
Class: Stock
Engine: 400 Ram Air IV
Rear gear: GM 10-bolt 4.33:1
Cam: Hydraulic flat tappet legal solid "cheater"
Transmission: Muncie four-speed M21
Intake/carb: stock

Arnie Beswick Gto

Arnie Beswick Gto
© Provided by Hotrod

1968 Dodge Dart LO23 Yankee Peddler

Yankee Peddler 1968 Hemi Dart © Provided by Hotrod Yankee Peddler 1968 Hemi Dart

Guys who think the muscle car era peaked in 1972 when factories stopped making clean bumpers, haven't seen the LO23 Hemi Dart. In 1968, Chrysler decided that if it was going to maintain dominance in drag racing, it needed to get serious. The Super Stock packages were announced in a letter to dealers. Each of the Hemi powered cars would weigh approximately 3,000 lbs. and be designed to fit into the S/S class in the NHRA. The Yankee Peddler is a factory LO23 Hemi Dart that was built as a 383 powered two-door hardtop at the Hamtramck plant then transferred to Hurst for modifications and final assembly. This Dart was built for Bill Flynn who raced it in S/S and various other classes before it was retired in 1970. This car was optioned with the A-833 Hemi four-speed that was Slick-Shifted by Chrysler and referred to as a Red Stripe transmission. Other cool parts included the lightweight seat brackets, fiberglass hood and fenders, and of course the 12.5:1 426-inch race Hemi with two-four-barrel Holley carbs. The rear end installed in the four-speed cars was a 9.75-inch Dana/Spicer 60 with 4.88:1 gears. The Yankee Peddler is one of the few cars that survived the Super Stock wars in one piece.

Quick Specs
Driver: Bill Flynn
Class: Super Stock
Engine: 426 Race Hemi
Rear gear: 4.88:1
Cam: Solid mechanical flat tappet cam
Transmission: A-833
Intake/carb: Magnesium cross ram with two four-barrel Holley carbs

Yankee Peddler 1968 Hemi Dart 3865

Yankee Peddler 1968 Hemi Dart 3865
© Provided by Hotrod

1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Zl1 Camaro © Provided by Hotrod Zl1 Camaro

The ZL1 Camaro was created when some Chevy dealers wanted to put big-blocks into enough Camaros so they could qualify for homologation and go racing. At the time, GM added a COPO number and built a series of base model Camaros modified with a 12-bolt rear end, a TH400 or M21/M22 four-speed, and an all-aluminum 427. The most acknowledged total build number is 69. At the time, the ZL1 option added $4,100 to the car making the overall cost over $7,000; roughly double what a 1969 SS396 would cost. Now it seems worth it. The race cars ended up in the hands of Don Yenko, Fred Gibb, and Dick Harrell and raced in various classes. This ZL1 has engine number 62 but the car is unknown, so the search is on for the original body. The original car was Garnet red and sold out of Colonial Chevrolet in Virginia.

Quick Specs

Driver: Fred Gibb, Dick Harrell
Class: Super Stock
Engine: 430/450 427-inch ZL1
Rear gear: 4.11:1, 12 bolt
Cam: Solid mechanical flat tappet
Transmission: M22
Intake/carb: GM single plane manifold with a Holley four-barrel carb

Zl1 Camaro © Provided by Hotrod Zl1 Camaro Zl1 Camaro © Provided by Hotrod Zl1 Camaro

001 Todd Werner Collection © Provided by Hotrod 001 Todd Werner Collection

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