With the Dodge//SRT brand dominating the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car segment in recent years, many fans have come accustomed to the modern-day Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car design. But in the mid-1970s, the Charger also competed in Funny Car competition. No better example of a machine is this Tommy Ivo-driven 1977 Dodge Charger bodied Funny Car which is about to go across the auction block at Mecum Kissimmee on Saturday, January 15th.
For those who don’t know Tommy Ivo, the actor turned drag racer was a popular driver throughout the mid-1950s to the 1970s. Ivo who appeared in several movies and television shows during the 1950s and 1960s found a love for drag racing and would race vehicles like a twin (side-by-side) engined Buick-engined dragster, which was the first gasoline-powered dragster to break into the 9-second barrier. In the 1960s, he would drive a nitro-fueled 392 HEMI dragster pushing him into the 7-second range.
The idea of retiring from the sport was a hard decision for Ivo and this 1977 Dodge Charger bodied Funny Car would be the last car he would race in nitro competition. At the time Chrysler Corporation was going through massive financial issues, so seeing a Dodge-based Funny Car was getting rarer at the drag strip. With the Top Fuel category on the wane and Ivo making much of his money drag racing, he decided to switch to the AA/FC category in 1976 and run a Dodge Dart Sport bodied car to help continue his Rod Shop and Dodge factory sponsorship.
To help be more competitive, the Dart body was replaced with this Charger body. However, the Charger did not see a lot of competition before being parked. In almost pristine condition the Charger-bodied drag racer is now ready for auction. Underneath the body, sits a chassis originally fabricated by Tony Casarez that has been updated by McKinney Corporation. The car is powered by a supercharged 7.0-liter (426 cubic-inch) HEMI V8 that is presently set up for nitromethane and could be cackling fire from the headers, complete with its period-correct single-plug Mallory ignition, polished Mooneyham 8-71 topped with a three-port injector, Waterman fuel pump, chrome valve covers, and anodized fittings, according to the owner.
The former childhood TV star’s fiberglass shell wears red, white, and blue paint lettered for “T.V. Tom” (Ivo’s nickname) on the front spoiler and features sponsor Rod Shop’s flag graphics. At the back of the car are a hand-fabricated aluminum deck spoiler and Simpson parachute. When Ivo retired this nitro Funny Car, he did continue to have a small stint in running jet cars.
The car is listed as LOT # S124 and is part of the Jackie and Gary Runyon Collection. The Runyons have enjoyed a lifetime of collecting unique vehicles, especially factory drag cars from the 1960s. In recent years, however, they have been enjoying a shift in their life trajectory while letting their cars pass into the hands of new caretakers.
The Runyons have enjoyed a lifetime of collecting unique vehicles, especially factory drag cars from the 1960s. In recent years, however, they have been enjoying a shift in their life trajectory while letting their cars pass into the hands of new caretakers.
The Runyon Collection features a number of Ivo pieces, as well as the famed “Little Red Wagon”, you might have read on MoparInsiders.com earlier this week.
Mecum suggests that the 1977 Dodge Charger-bodied Funny Car could bring somewhere in the range of $100,000 to $150,000 USD when it crosses the auction block. To see more of this awesome Funny Car or more of the Jackie and Gary Runyon Collection, you can visit the Mecum website.
Tommy Ivo 1977 Dodge Charger-bodied Funny Car Image Gallery: