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HE announcement must have been quite a bombshell, especially if you were a super stock racer at that time. I know I was just about knocked off my feet when I heard about it and I was only a spectator then.
      Try to put yourself into the situation. It is late summer, 1961. You're a Ford or a Chevy or a Mopar super stock driver and you're doing damn well. You're driving a 401 horsepower 390 Ford. Or maybe it's one of those tricked-up, long-ram 413 Dodge Darts. Or even a 409 Impala. And you're blowing off last year's super stock champion, the 389 Pontiac, pretty good. In a couple of weeks, you'll be heading out to Indy and the NHRA Nationals and there's no way a Pontiac is going to win again this year. No way.
      Then the announcement, rather low key, from Pontiac:
      "Pontiac is now offering to qualified drivers a 421-cubic inch high performance engine option. The engine is rated 373 horsepower and features dual 4-barrel carburetors, solid lifter camshaft and high capacity aluminum exhaust manifolds. The 421 engine is available only with related heavy duty driveline components. It can be fitted to any Catalina, or Ventura 2-door model."


      That's all. Suddenly, Pontiac is top dog again and you've just been blown back to wherever you came from. That's the way Pontiac was in those days. Always first with the most. Always on top. Always the winner. As it turned out, the 421 did blow off the 409s and the 406 Fords and 413 Mopars at the '61 lndy Nationals. And it went on to establish racing supremacy for Pontiac not only on the dragstrip but on NASCAR tracks as well under the fine hand of Fireball Roberts and others.
      That late '61 introduction was only the beginning of the 421 story. The engine package really came to bloom in 1962. Instead of being dealer installed, the entire super stock package—engine, suspension, aluminum front end, the whole works—became a regular though limited production line option. Anyone who had an extra $1334.24 plus $234 for the four-speed could walk out with a super stock aluminum front end Catalina.
      And so our oldie but goodie test car for this month came into being. Yes, this is one of the original Super Duty 421 aluminum front end Catalinas that so dominated super stock drag racing in 1962. There was nothing that could touch it for most of the year.    NEXT >

APRIL, 1973 CARS • 31
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since June 13, 1998