The Silver Bullet Dragster Comes Full Circle
When we hear the term “Silver Bullet” the mad men in advertising have our brains programmed to think of a Coors Light. This dragster helps change that.
Anyone reading this website is probably guilty of drawing a hot rod or two on their high school book covers or on the inside of their Pee-Chee folders, but we’re willing to bet that less than one percent had the skill set to turn one of those crude creations into a real car. That is unless your name is Stan Johnson.
The car, which he built with his brother Tom and good friend Connie Friedhofer, was built on a 127-inch Schubeck chassis and incorporated Johnson’s unique T-style body, turtle deck and enclosed rear wheels. Everything inside the cockpit was fabricated by hand, including the seat, pedals and steering wheel. Chrysler provided the team with a 273ci small block engine while Johnson built the custom headers and injection tubes that accentuate the car’s unique look.
Many thought the futuristic-looking car was just for show, but Johnson proved them wrong when he rolled it off the trailer and through the water box mashing the gas pedal. The competition coupe ran in B/Gas and set a Standard 1320 Record in 1966 with a run of 10.37 at 142.85mph at Great Lakes U.S. 30 Dragway.
After the racing season ended, Johnson put the Silver Bullet on the indoor car show tour where it won Best Competition Car several times over. Unfortunately, Johnson was forced to sell the car in 1969. It was shipped off to Canada, never to be seen again.
You would think that’s where this story ends, but it’s really where it begins.
Fast-forward 30 years, when a photo of a fiberglass body with a unique rear window appeared on the internet. Somehow that photo, taken at a car swap in Canada, made its way into Stan Johnson’s inbox. When he opened the email, he knew exactly what he was looking at.
He dreamed of getting the car back and was able to track down the current owner, Rick Proctor, who was not looking to sell but was instead hoping to restore it himself. Ironically, with Johnson’s help, Proctor spent the next decade scouring Canada trying to locate the original parts and pieces. Over time they were able to locate the original engine, block, heads, oil pan and even the one-off injection system and headers that Johnson had built by hand over 50 years ago.
After 14 years and several offers to buy the car back, Proctor finally agreed to sell the car and its parts back to Stan Johnson, knowing that Johnson had the skills and motivation to return the car back to it’s original condition.
It took 47 years, but Johnson finally had his creation back. He was thrilled, even though it was in rough shape and needed a ton of work. The restoration took thousands of hours and nearly a year to complete because Johnson had to use his machining skills to remake several of the missing parts, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way. Johnson says he wanted the restoration to be perfect, and it is, down to the hand–lettered Johnson Brothers & Friedhofer logo that he painted on the car himself.
The resurgence of original front engined dragsters continues to captivate us. The resiliency and dedication to locating these cars and making them period correct again is happening more and more. We dig it.
Another one saved!