George Montgomery Malco Mustang Gasser
George Montgomery was running a supercharged small block Chevy in his Willys Gasser and he had done very well with it until 1965 when larger displacement engines hit the drag strip. Ford motor company had approached him a year earlier and tried to encourage him into switching to a 289 powerplant, but George said NO. Now it was 1965 and according to George: “Something had to change, and I turned my eyes back toward Ford. I had been pretty friendly with them. They were impressed with my winning record and I assured them that I would win for them. What I was interested in acquiring was the dramatic new supercharged single overhead cam (SOHC) 427 ‘Cammer’ engine.”
The Cammer, of course, was a very advanced engine that Ford had hoped would be approved for competition in NASCAR. But when the stock car higher-ups got their eyes on the SOHC they quickly outlawed it. Ford decided to use in it in drag racing. The company turned to superstar Connie Kalitta to adapt it for nitro drag cars, while Montgomery used it with the gassers. Montgomery realized the potential of the engine and used it for a number of years with great success.
He says, “When I was ready to use the Cammer engine, I figured that I would be receiving a new, completely assembled engine. Not the case. It came as parts and pieces, but not all of them. I had to fab a lot of the parts, including the blower drive, intake, and both the mag and fuel pump drives. Much of the problem was that the engine was for stock car racing, but I really made it work on my Willys.”
Montgomery says, “The Willys was put on display at the Ford Motorsports Banquet in 1966 as a centerpiece. At the event, Charley Gray, the head of Ford Racing, introduced me to the vice president of Ford as we stood by my Willys. The VP made a pointed comment that really got my attention. He said, ‘Don’t we sell Fords?’
“My comment to Charley was, ‘You mean something like a 1940 Ford?’ His comment was ‘Something like we sell today, like a Mustang.’ I told him that the rules require an automotive frame and the Mustang is a unibody. He told me that was for me to work out. After discussions with the NHRA tech director, I was given the option of using a Willys frame lengthened 10 inches. I had numerous spares to make that modification.
The Malco Mustang A-Gas
Mike Ditty Slide from the Dr. Pete Gimenez Photo Collection
“Construction of the new 1967 Mustang fastback (which would become the Malco Mustang Gasser) began in a secretive manner that NHRA condoned, and they advised me when I had questions. This new Gasser would be different but would still carry the trusty SOHC engine with a very rare Ford C6 automatic transmission furnished by Ford T&C Division. It also utilized an adjustable coil spring suspension system similar to NASCAR stock cars. It had custom-made air shocks made by Delco Products. Finally, there was a rear torque-tube drive rather than an open driveshaft. It took lots of planning, engineering, and volunteer work so it would be ready to compete in the Bristol [Tennessee] Springnationals.
“At Bristol, when I rolled the car into tech, the inspectors were surprised and wondered what class this strange new machine would run. I told them it was still the same old class I had always run, A Gas Supercharged, and they told me, ‘No way.’ I told them to talk to the boys upstairs because they know all about it. About an hour later the inspectors returned, no questions asked, and it was checked off as the same class and the rest is history.
“After the initial runs with the super-slick Malco Mustang, I realized that I never wanted to run the top-heavy and unstable Willys again. The Malco Mustang drove like a Caddy, very stable and straight down the track due to the longer wheelbase and the vastly improved Mustang aerodynamics. The first time out, the car ran consistently in the high upper-eight seconds.”
The first record for the blue Malco Mustang came in the summer of 1967 when it torched an 8.93 second at 162 mph run, setting a national record. As time progressed, so did the increasing excellence of the car. It also won its class at the U.S. Nationals along with numerous wins in match racing.
During the 1968 season, the Malco Mustang acquired an appendage on its front in the form of a lower front spoiler. Montgomery says, “It was designed by Ford and approved by NHRA before it was used. I installed it myself in my shop. Ford stated that the purpose of the spoiler was to deflect air from flowing under the car, which reportedly caused the car to lift. But quite frankly I couldn’t tell the difference when I was driving it. And I didn’t change anything about my driving technique.”
The Malco Mustang still exists today, surprisingly near its original as raced condition. It resides in the basement of the Petersen Museum. Hopefully, this historic drag car will see the light of day in the hands of a new owner someday.