Frank Spittle Owns the Sole Survivor
|Above: Frank Spittle can hardly wait to hop in and turn the key. When he finally does, it will be the first time in more than 40 years that one of the Dodge Chargers is fired in its original, supercharged configuration. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Spittle)|
Researching the history of the Dodge Chargers for Mopar Max has been both challenging and rewarding, plus incredibly time consuming. After all, nearly 43 years have passed since the debut of the highest-dollar team that drag racing had ever seen.
Moreover, these three controversial Dodge 330 sedans started crashing almost before their Dean Jeffries candy-apple paint had dried. The two survivors that toured nationally 1964 were subsequently sold, converted to nitro and rolled by new drivers. They were presumed lost forever from 1966 until 1988, when the ex-Jimmy Nix car reportedly surfaced in Wisconsin.
Nix himself was able to authenticate the car for discoverer Tom Jones, cough up some of its missing sheet metal for subsequent-owner C.K. Spurlock, and grant at least one taped interview about the Chargers’ beginnings before losing his life in another accident. Although this dragster star never seemed quite comfortable with the memories of his six months in a new-model doorslammer, he was able to explain several mysteries that may well have gone unsolved after his death.
As we’ve seen these last four months, the restoration of this sole survivor passed from Jones to Spurlock to Frank Spittle, who has spent the last eight years and every cent he could find finishing the job. For this final installment of our series, we asked Frank about how he acquired such an historically-significant vehicle, and how he’s resisted the offers made by well-heeled collectors; the latest of which approached seven figures, according to Spittle.
“I’m one of the lucky ones who was around for the birth of the Funny Car,” he explains. “There is no class in drag racing that has produced so many talented drivers who would become the legends we admire today. And the cars they drove in the early years were as heart-stopping as the fuel altereds!“I wasn’t on the West Coast in early 1964, so I didn't find out about the Chargers until later that season. By late summer, most of the automotive magazines had covered the introduction of the Chargers. By then, though, Chrisman's Comet was the big story in drag racing.