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First Funny Cars: Part 4

After 43 Years and Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars, the Jimmy Nix Dodge Charger Lives!

Madison, Wis., hot-rodder Tom Jones gets credit for getting the much- abused Dodge 330 body back in shape during his short, but lucrative, ownership stint (as detailed in the previous installment, Dec. 2006 MM).  Note the absence of a firewall and front floor, both of which Nix removed in 1964.  In 1989, after Petersen's Drag Racing magazine revealed the discovery of the ex-Jimmy Nix Charger, a brief bidding war was won by C.K. Spurlock, a country-music promoter, car collector  and father of drag-racer K.C. Spurlock.  Over the next decade, C.K. spared no expense getting the body, powertrain and interior as close as possible to original.  (Photos ©Mark Bruederle)

The circumstances culminating in the discovery and 19-year-long restoration of an original 1964 Dodge Charger are nearly unbelievable, as we’ve seen in three previous editions of this five-part saga.

Yet another example:  Had it not been for a thief, this ex-Jimmy Nix car might’ve continued a slow death as an anonymous Canadian bracket bomber in the 1970s and ’80s, instead of sitting in a Lake Mills, Wis., garage until Tom Jones could buy it, in 1988.

According to Jones, that unidentified previous owner ran the car exactly one time, around 1975, and broke an axle the first time out.  Before he could get back to the track, some bum broke in and swiped his cylinder heads.  Discouraged by this one-two punch, the guy let the car sit — for the next 13 years! 

Lots of people around Maidson, Wis., knew about it.  Some had heard rumors that the white ’64 started out with an aluminum front end, and suspected that it might’ve been someone’s factory Super Stocker.  Not even Tom Jones imagined that this badly-cut-up, 440-powered, four-speed beater had made history as one of the first Funny Cars (or “Supercharged Factory Experimentals,” as the three Dodge Chargers were unofficially classified by Chrysler in 1964). 

Here's an early publicity photo of the twin Charger originally assigned to Jim Johnson, yet to be fully lettered.  The two cars that toured in 1964 were so much alike that the only visible difference is the chrome tachometer that subsequently sprouted from Johnson's dash.  (Photo by Wayne Thoms)

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