Super Stock and Factory Experimental Origins: Earlier Than You Thought

f you’re like me, you probably assume the term Super Stock entered our vocabulary in 1962 with the arrival of Detroit-built powerhouses like the Chevy 409, Ford/Mercury 406, Pontiac 421 and the king of them all – the 413 Max Wedge.

But as I was leafing through the pages of the June 1956 issue of Motor Life magazine I found a half-page news blip regarding Plymouth’s then-new performance model, the Fury – the iconic nameplate in its first year of production. The article described how a specially modified Fury ran the Daytona flying mile at 124.01 mph. (car in motion when it crossed the start line to maximize traction/rate of acceleration on the packed sand surface). In a similar standing start contest, the potent Fury hit an average mph of 82.54, its rear tires kicking up plenty of sand at the loose packed starting line.

To my knowledge, this May 1956 issue of Motor Life represents the first use of the term “super stock” on a magazine cover. A decade later, no fewer than four regularly-published magazine titles hinged on the theme; Super Stockers In Action, Super Stock & Drag Illustrated, Rodder and Super Stock and Super Stock & FX. The spectacle of stock bodied drag cars running like rail jobs had taken root all across America and magazine publishing outfits eagerly cashed in to spread the word.

Sure, the info on the Fury was cool but it was the writer’s choice of words in the description that really caught my eye. He used the term super stock. Specifically, he closed the piece with these words; “…in the next issue of Motor Life there will be a major story on it (the new ’56 Plymouth Fury) and other of Detroit’s super stock cars”.

So I went to my research library/vintage magazine collection and located the May, 1956 issue of Motor Life. Sure enough, right there on the cover is a bright yellow diagonal ribbon festooned with the headline “Detroit’s Super Stock Cars.” I have included a picture of the magazine so we can drool and learn together. The beautiful cover is dominated by all of Chrysler Corp’s top performance offerings for 1956: the DeSoto Adventurer, Dodge D-500, Plymouth Fury and Chrysler 300B. Inside, the story runs several pages and really sings the praises of Chrysler engineering.

Here’s a sample; “The 300B, Adventurer, D-500 and Fury models are more than just normal stockers with hotted-up engines. They are complete high-performance packages featuring revised suspensions and other chassis changes designed to compliment their powerful engines. This is a praiseworthy move on Chrysler’s part… Unlike most other manufacturers who seem to feel that their hot jobs will be used mainly by stock car racers who will make their own chassis modifications, Chrysler is giving the performance-minded buyer a break. It offers him a car in which the chassis has been set up to permit safe use of engine potential. He gets a hot engine, beefed-up suspension, more rugged drive-line components and low center of gravity in one bundle.