Jim Lytle made his name drag racing in the 1960s. His revolutionary Allison-powered '34 sedan, nicknamed Big Al, was perhaps the world's first flip-top drag car.
Jim recently sent us some 50-year-old photos of one of his very first hot rods. The '32 coupe he built when he was in the army stationed in Killeen, Texas, was packed with features that were radical in 1956. The fendered and flamed five-window-built in a dirt lot-was channeled over a double Z'd frame to settle the body low to the pavement and chopped 5 inches to bring the overall height down even more. Those mods, combined with a dropped front axle and a flat rear crossmember, lowered the car 17 inches. Headlights were mounted way down below the front fenders. The extended three-piece aluminum hood gave the low coupe a sleek profile, and was held on with Dzus fasterners, which were very unusual at the time. Underneath the hood, Jim ran a 354 Chrysler Hemi, which, as you can see, was set back 18 inches, and made accessible by a removable cowl. The full-race Hemi featured eight two-barrel carbs, a Herbert roller cam, and 13:1 Jahns pistons. Backed up by a four-speed truck transmission and a Columbia two-speed rear axle, the 354 got Jim from starting line to finish line in 13.2 seconds at 107 mph.
Even by today's standards, Jim's old '32 would be a radical hot rod. If the car is anywhere out there, Jim doesn't know about it. He sold it in December 1962. A friend said he spotted it, minus the fenders and running boards, on the streets of San Antonio in 1964. If you think you know where it is, let us know.
Mail your vintage photos of you and your hot rod, along with a brief story, to Tim Bernsau, Rod & Custom, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870, or e-mail them (3x5 inches at 300 dpi) to email@example.com. We are unable to return any submitted material
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