More early NASCAR: the cars

The early years of NASCAR featured at least one kind of diversity: an astonishing variety of cars on the track. Here’s a big photo essay celebrating the colorful weekly car show that was NASCAR.  -Photo above by John Lacko Photography

 

In NASCAR Sprint Cup circa 2013, there are three manufacturers—Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota—competing with three body styles: Fusion, Chevy SS, and Camry. And sure, the competition is close, but there’s not much variety on display.

Compare and contrast to the first several decades of NASCAR, when dozens of years, makes, and models were all competing on the track at the same time. For example. in the Grand National Series 1969-70, fans could find Ford Fairlane, Galaxie, Torino, Thunderbird, Comet, and Cyclone body styles trying to make the show. And those were just the Fords. Plymouth, Dodge, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Olds, Buick, and American Motors products were in the mix as well.

Check out the lead photo: There’s the King, Richard Petty, up in the top lane running the latest Ford equipment for 1969, the aero-beaked Torino Talladega. Running the bottom is the legendary African-American privateer Wendell Scott in a ’67 Galaxie. Actually, the car is probably older than that—most likely a reskin, the only good reason to be running a full-sized chassis in 1969. Scott won just one career Grand National race, but he raced as far on a dollar as anyone in NASCAR.

But hey, times change. For one thing, many of the brands that once raced in NASCAR don’t even exist anymore: Pontiac, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Mercury, American Motors. And racing has become so specialized, sophisticated, and expensive that it’s no longer possible for teams to race any brand without manufacturer funding and technical support. Advanced technology and corporate uniformity now rule the day.

But fortunately, we can look back to a time when when stock cars were mainly stock, and variety was part of the show. By the way, we slipped in some ringers. These aren’t all Grand National cars. As teasers, included are a few cars from other NASCAR series from years gone by: the convertibles (previously featured at MCG), the compacts, and the Sportsmen. Look for future MCG features on these great cars. Gallery below.

 

1970 Ford Torino David Pearson

1970 Ford Torino David Pearson

1971 Pontiac GTO  David Pearson builder Ray Nichels

1971 Pontiac GTO David Pearson builder Ray Nichels

1968 Ford Galaxie Art Bennett Daytona 1970

1968 Ford Galaxie Art Bennett Daytona 1970

1959 Chevrolet Buck Baker

1959 Chevrolet Buck Baker

1958 Ford Ed Kozbiel 1960 Pontiac Paul Goldsmith 99 Milwaukee 1960

1958 Ford Ed Kozbiel 1960 Pontiac Paul Goldsmith 99 Milwaukee 1960

1960 Ford Larry Frank

1960 Ford Larry Frank

1975 AMC Matador Bobby Allison

1975 AMC Matador Bobby Allison

1959 Ford Thunderbird Zippertop Banjo Matthews T-Bird Power Products

1959 Ford Thunderbird Zippertop Banjo Matthews T-Bird Power Products

1970 Oldsmobilke Cutlass Don Simkins Riverside

1970 Oldsmobilke Cutlass Don Simkins Riverside

1965 Plymouth Fury Curtis Turner Daytona

1965 Plymouth Fury Curtis Turner Daytona

1964 Pontiac H.B. Bailey Daytona 1965

1964 Pontiac H.B. Bailey Daytona 1965

1967 Buick Skylark J.D. McDuffie 1968 Torino David Pearson

1967 Buick Skylark J.D. McDuffie 1968 Torino David Pearson

1967 Ford Galaxie Wendell Scott Richard Petty 1969 Torino Talledega

1967 Ford Galaxie Wendell Scott Richard Petty 1969 Torino Talledega

1951 Nash Joe Weatherly

1951 Nash Joe Weatherly

1963 Pontiac Roger Penske

1963 Pontiac Roger Penske

1963 Ford Thunderbird Clem Proctor

1963 Ford Thunderbird Clem Proctor

1978 Dodge Magnum Travis Tiller

1978 Dodge Magnum Travis Tiller

1972 AMC Matador Mark Donohue

1972 AMC Matador Mark Donohue

1961 Chrysler Buck Baker

1961 Chrysler Buck Baker

1951 Oldsmobile four-door Tim Flock

1951 Oldsmobile four-door Tim Flock

1956 Buick Special Bill Eubanks

1956 Buick Special Bill Eubanks

1951 Oldsmobile Bill Schade

1951 Oldsmobile Bill Schade

1961 Valiant Marvin Panch

1961 Valiant Marvin Panch

1959 Olds Lee Petty 1959 Thunderbird Johnny Beauchamp

1959 Olds Lee Petty 1959 Thunderbird Johnny Beauchamp

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Roy Tyner

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Roy Tyner

1960 Chevrolet Herby Tillman 1959 Chevrolet Junior Johnson

1960 Chevrolet Herby Tillman 1959 Chevrolet Junior Johnson

1981 Dodge Mirada Dave Marcis owner Norm Negre

1981 Dodge Mirada Dave Marcis owner Norm Negre

1959 Thunderbird zippertop Tim Flock

1959 Thunderbird zippertop Tim Flock

1963 Mercury Johnny Rutherford

1963 Mercury Johnny Rutherford

1968 Pontiac H.B. Bailey

1968 Pontiac H.B. Bailey

1960 Studebaker Harold Smith

1960 Studebaker Harold Smith

1962 Plymouths Lee and Richard Petty

1962 Plymouths Lee and Richard Petty

1954 Chrysler Lee Petty

1954 Chrysler Lee Petty

1965 Pontiac Tom Roa  03 Riverside 1967

1965 Pontiac Tom Roa 03 Riverside 1967

1965 Chevrolet Impala J.T. Putney

1965 Chevrolet Impala J.T. Putney

1968 Dodge Charger Pete Hamilton 1966 Chevelle Bobby Allison 2

1968 Dodge Charger Pete Hamilton 1966 Chevelle Bobby Allison 2

1952 Hudson Hornet Bub King

1952 Hudson Hornet Bub King

1964 Chevelle Bobby Allison Riverside 1967

1964 Chevelle Bobby Allison Riverside 1967

1970 Thunderbird Henley Gray

1970 Thunderbird Henley Gray

1961 Plymouth Richard Petty

1961 Plymouth Richard Petty

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6 thoughts on “More early NASCAR: the cars

  1. That 1967 Buick Skylark of JD McDuffie looks like it has a lift kit installed. I think that’s so they can change the tires without jacking it up ;) JD never did have money for a proper pit crew.

    I don’t see many photos of Nash stockers. I wonder if that photo has been re-sized, pinching in the sides. It looks a bit more Metropolitan than Statesman. It also could be that I’ve seen few actual 1951 Nashes and I’m referencing that photo with the long, low, lean distortions used in all of the ads of the time.

  2. Valiants with the big slant sixes dominated the NASCAR compact sedan class during the early sixties against the likes of Corvairs, Falcons, and Tempests. I can’t imagine driving a four door Valiant at 130 mph on a super speedway. Drivers were brave to say the least

  3. Great pic of the Holman Moody Ford of Fred Lorenzen. Interestingly the sign on the dash “Think W H M ? Refers to Ralph Moody coaching Fred on how to get around Curtis Turner . Fred needed the reminder ” THINK What the Hells the Matter .

    • I am currently researching a piece on the Compacts — also the Tempest that ran in the Daytona Continental one year.

      …I was very glad to see Lorenzen nominated for the HoF this year. Quite deserving, lives in IL with Alzheimer’s.

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