“WE’LL DROP A HEMI IN THE REAR– AND RUN LIKE HELL.” | HEMI UNDER GLASS

Promo ad sketching out George Hurst’s concept that gave birth to the epic– ‘Hemi Under Glass”  via

That’s the way the whole thing got started.  A Barracuda with a nasty 426 Hemi stuffed where the back seat used to be.  A Barracuda, the likes of which had ever been seen before– with Hurst-designed hi-performance chassis, suspension, driveline components– and naturally a 4-speed stick. This beastly Barracuda was christened “Hemi Under Glass”– a black & gold bomb that appeared at main events across the country.  It would rock awestruck crowds back on their heels, as the Barracuda’s front wheels pitched high into the air and screamed down the strip with its nose pointing to the sky.

This was the hard part– fitting the 426 Hemi through the Barracuda’s front door for the first time. With the aid of a cherry-picker, Hurst personnel jockey the mill prior to making primary measurements that result in the Hemi’s final location.  — Hot Rod, circa 1965, via

The “Hemi Under Glass” was a Hurst Shifters’ promotional project (designed by George Hurst & Ray Brock) that performed at drag strips and auto exhibitions across the country throughout the mid ’60s and ’70s. Hurst hired-on professional driver Bob Riggle to race the Hemi-powered, mid-engine ‘Cuda in front of testosterone-laden crowds who loved the spectacle of seeing these over-the-top wheel-standers scream down the strip at well over 100 mph down the track. Over the years 9 different “Hemi Under Glass” autos have been built, all based on the Plymouth Barracuda.  Riggle himself drove the epic Mopar wheelster up until 1975 when he hung up his racing gloves after a serious accident, and moved back home to Arizona.

LindaVaughn hemiunderglass

“Hemi Under Glass” was largely forgotten about until Bob Riggle decided to resurrect the drag strip icon in 1992, at the urging of “Miss Golden Shifter” herself– Linda Vaughn, and began building a replica of the ’68 model.  Bob once again toured the country’s drag strips and auto exhibitions– drawing new fans, and tickling the old-time reminiscers as he and “Hemi Under Glass” sped down the strip full-tilt, still bringing everyone to their feet just like old times.

“Hemi Under Glass” was originally designed in 1965 by George Hurst & Ray Brock to be a competitive racer.  They soon encountered a problem– the mid-engine placement of the extremely powerful 426 Hemi caused the front end to jerk up into the air quickly at acceleration, which became a huge hit with spectators, so they embraced it and made it arguably the most iconic 1/4 mile wheel-stander of all time.

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Ready to charge, Hurst Performance Research’s Barracuda does not appear to be radically unlike a stock fastback.  Closer inspection reveals a potent ’65 426 Hemi (with well over 600 horses on tap) tucked in under the rear window (and a Corvette aluminum core radiator wedged in the trunk)– hence: Hemi Under Glass.  Wheels are Hurst’s forged aluminum goodies.

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The Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” wheel-stander, driven by Bob Riggle, in action. via

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The Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” wheel-stander, driven by Bob Riggle, in action.

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A vintage peek at the Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” packed-in powerplant.  via

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Vintage snap of the Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” wheel-stander screamin’ down the track.  via

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Vintage snap of the Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” wheel-stander on the Hurst trailer. via

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Vintage snap of the Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” wheel-stander screamin’ down the track.

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The Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” wheel-stander, driven by Bob Riggle, in action.

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The Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” wheel-stander, driven by Bob Riggle, in action.

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The Hurst “Hemi Under Glass” wheel-stander, driven by Bob Riggle, in action.

There’s some amazing vintage footage of the old wheelstanding dragsters below–

Thanks Bruce!

 

17 thoughts on ““WE’LL DROP A HEMI IN THE REAR– AND RUN LIKE HELL.” | HEMI UNDER GLASS

  1. Here’s a video of the Hemi going up the twisty hill at Goodwood on two wheels. Pretty amazing venue for it.

  2. Nice…That was one of the best looking drag cars of the time with its Hurst Gold and Black livery. It was one of the first wave of what became Funny Cars. Guys would move rear wheel wells forward on their steel-bodied muscle cars for better weight distribution. The Dodge Lil’ Red Truck was another crowd pleasing wheelie machine.

  3. I was in High School in the mid-sixties. I lived in Glendora, about 8 miles from the old Irwindale drag strip, and about 12 miles from Pomona. Saw the Hemi Under Glass, the Little Red Wagon and the Hurst Hairy Olds (455 Toronado setups fore and aft) run several times. John Smyser’s Terrifying Toronado (Again, twice 455’s) was based in my town.

    The good ol’ days. Thanks for sharing the video and the memories.

  4. anything with a mighty HEMI powering it is always a great idea.HURST were always at the forefront of promotion with street smart STYLE-

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