Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 10, Page

Two Years Before Nicholson’s 1966 Comet, A Little Guy Invented The Fiberglass Flopper


Talk about a “mail-slot” top chop, this lid was lowered one full foot! Note Jim Lytle’s eyes, barely protruding through the roof of Big Al II. The quickest and fastest sedan of its era clocked bests of 9.31/163 at Lions in 1964. [Ralph Guldahl Jr. photo courtesy of Jim Lytle’s scrapbook]

Jim Lytle never intended to revolutionize motorsports by pulling a five-piece mold from his stock-bodied '34 Tudor (the original Big Al, as featured in last month’s issue). It was just that inrushing air would try to open that steel sedan’s suicide doors at 140 mph, bending them outward on every run. “I always hated doing bodywork,” Lytle explained.

Unfortunately, he had no laminating experience as of 1963, when he envisioned a fiberglass body that could be dropped onto a '34 Ford chassis as a single structure. His determination evidently appealed to Fred Karow of Fibercraft, who advised him throughout the ambitious, one-man project.

Lytle fabricated this innovative, T-bar mounting system for history’s first one-piece, all-fiberglass body. Despite the massive V-12, rolling weight was just 2850 pounds, including driver. That’s Lions starter Tim “The Wonderful Weed” Kraushar astride the fender of Lytle’s tow car, a ’57 Caddy. [Ralph Guldahl Jr. photo courtesy of Jim Lytle’s scrapbook]

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