Chrysler cancelled its stock car racing program in 1972, however at the time it still employed noted racing engineer Larry Rathgeb, who had gotten the idea to produce a kit-car customers could buy direct from the automaker to go short track racing. It was an unusual project, however Chrysler green lit the idea anyways and Rathgeb got to work on the car.
Starting with the front section from Chrysler’s E-Body platform, Rathgeb was able to create a formidable short-track chassis. It featured the rear end from the A-Body platform, which was tied to the E-Body front with metal tubing, widened subframe rails and torsion bar suspension out front with leaf springs in the back. Customers could buy the entire car for $10,000, or could choose to simply purchase a rolling chassis that lacked the car’s 650 hp 355-cu.in. V8.
A 1974 press release announcing the new kit car read: “It’s called a ‘kit car’ because anyone can purchase the packaged components and assemble them, just as youngsters put together scale models from a hobby shop kit. All the right parts are in the kit, and directions are explained very simply in black and white. The buyer will be responsible for welding the parts and most will assemble their own engines. But, the beauty of the program is that we have taken the mystery out of building a stock car.”
In 1974 Chrysler called upon Dale Earnhardt to test a Challenger-bodied version of the kit car, who at the time had been considering hanging up his helmet for good. One of the Chrysler engineers on hand during the test convinced Earnhardt to stick with racing, keeping the now legendary and beloved racer in the sport of stock car racing for years to come.
It’s never been confirmed that this is the exact car Earnhardt drove, but considering less than 30 of the kit cars were ever produced, the chances seem good this was Dale’s ride. Mecum will auction it off at its upcoming Kissimmee auction in January where it’s estimated to fetch between $40,000 and $80,000, which seems like a mighty good deal for those of you who are big Earnhardt or vintage stock car racing fans.
Check out the listing here.