Front Engine Dragsters (FEDs) were at the pointy end of our sport from it’s very beginning and ruled as “Kings of the Sport” for decades. They came to epitomize the true spirit of hot rod,s modified to the extreme, for pure performance. On their way to dominating the dragstrips, FEDs also evolved into aesthetically pleasing form, combining beauty with brutal performance. They became known as “slingshots” and “diggers”, and everyone wanted one.
As the power developed by blown nitro engines increased, so did the challenge of driving slingshot dragsters. Eventually, rear engine dragsters took over as kings of the sport. Not only did the rear engine dragster move the driver clear of the impact area of the ever threatening engine and clutch explosions, they had better weight distribution and more options for effective aerodynamic devises. But FEDs did not die out.
By virtue of their unique appeal, FEDs continue to draw attention at dragstrips. They turn up with all kinds of power plants from 4 cylinder injected gas burners to blown fuel hemis. These diggers provide a driving challenge for drivers and easily draw the eye of onlookers.
Let’s hear about the FEDs out there!!! This thread invites owners and drivers of Front Engine Dragsters to tell us about what they’ve got.
There were quite a few FED's running in modified on the weekend at Round 3 of the NSW champs at SD. A few interesting 6 cylinder cars that were holding off the big boys as well.
I wouldn't mind building and running one myself but I don't have the first clue of where to go.
I'm in the process of building a FED to run in Supercharged Outlaws. Going to be running a 511ci Hemi, 10" crower clutch and a 3 speed lenco. Can't wait to get the car up and running. Ya can't beat seeing the smoke bellowing off the tyres as you roll thorugh the water box. It's the best feeling ever.
Well I have a seldom seen FED. I raced one at AIR Whyalla and Heathcote in the 1980's and have rebuilt an other old car over the last few years. Only parts from the original are 5' of the rear of the chassis and some steering bits. By far my favorite are the little stripped down no frills 155 and 160" WB injected nitro burning Junior fuel cars of the 1960's.. I haven't had a whole lot of time to go racing this year, and but hope to soon. I have to travel 3-4 hours each way. Some days it just seems to get away from me money wise even at my level but the fire's still burning deep inside so I hope to get some track time sooner or later.
I take it you are based way down south somewhere! That is a great car you have built there, and I'm it will provide a load of fun for you. I also agree about the early Junior Fuel diggers - they were the essence! Cheers!!!!
Nice bit of work there Tony- I know it's a long time since that post, have you run your dragster often?
I'm also 4 hours west of Sydney dragway but someday hope to be able to trailer something there on the cheap.
I've been looking around the net for reputable blueprints for a FED or altered and have so far been sold on the Mark Williams plans that are sold on their website. One thing I'm unsure of acquiring within my budget is the rear end that the design is built around. So I was wondering what you designed your dragster from?
Hi Mick. Not sure what to say other than welcome to the world of Front Engine Dragsters. Stuff the rest except Fiats maybe. Don't know what to say to you but I would imagine the MArk Williams chassis plans would be a more late model looking FED. There's a guy in the US Brian Fox or KIng Chassis who makes the best looking cars He's on Face Book and has web page. Maybe talk to him about some drawings. Most of the old cars were built on the shed floor with a piece of string and a bit of chalk not a jig so you can do anything at home. I my case I bought an old car knowing the chassis was rooted but the back was legal dimension tubing so I cut it off and used the back 5 feet of the chassis and the diff and some steering components. It's taken at least 3 years maybe 4 but every thing was done at home by myself or some mates. I ran my first meeting in nearly 30 years and killed the engine and had transmission trouble and spent the next 18 months re building and will be running at Easter at Mildura. As far as low cost fun goes I guess that depends on what you consider cheap. I do everything here and I've still spent more than you might think. If I was doing it again depending where my head was at I would buy a rolling or running car if I wanted to get onto the track quick (and it will be cheaper) or I would grab some one who knows construction and the rule book and buy an old car as a donor. Good luck it's worth it nothing has the cool factor of a FED and noth will give you the same performance of a flyweight FED for the money.. Happy to talk FED's anytime.
you can put whatever rear end you want in a car built to the Mark Williams plans--no need to buy his high $$$ stuff. As Tony says my mate Brian Fox at King chassis builds a nice retro looking car and I do a few as well and actually have one in Perth that should debut in the not too distant future. Here is what some of my cars look like:
The first shot is of me in Dan Horan Sr's car at the 2010 California Hot Rod Reunion
This is Jarrod Bradshaw in the double that I built for Pat Freels. I don't like the "square cage" but that is what they wanted
Bob Buckley's Rock and Roll Express has been low et and top speed at the Meltdown Drags the past two years
I only did the body and wings on Tim Arfons' turbine car--my mates the Dustman brothers built the chassis
This is the car that is in Perth--will be running Donovan early hemi power
This car was destroyed in a trailer fire early last year --the first full chute pack body that I built
This is Glenn Lever's Pontiac powered car. Started out with a single four barrel but is now blown and will be running the 7.50 index this year
Thanks for the replies Tony and rooman,
It seems the newer styles of FED are a lot longer in the wheelbase than the vintage diggers as you guys were saying. How did the 160" WB ones get down the track back in the day? Were they as stable and straight? Reason I'm asking is that older shorter style appeals more for the fact there's less car to trailer and store when not racing and also more room left in the garage to move and work around it!
Originally I'd conceived to run a carburetted BBC but looking around at older vehicles online it seems they put in great times with small blocks.
This one really catches the eye: at only 120" of wheelbase the driver really looks shoehorned in. I'm not sure how I'd go at 6'2"!
I will definitely look into the King Chassis designs and see if they offer a blueprint.
Looks like a bit of ballast and downforce was required in Dan Horan's car that you were driving there rooman! As for the trailer fire- that's just heartbreaking.
my mate Brian at King chassis is a bit like me--he just builds them to suit the customer. Put the tubing up on the jig and go for it. I do have the beginnings of a blueprint for my cars but have been too busy to learn Autocad and make something useable.
The Horan car was built with the motor only 36" out, the same as his old Don Long car that he had built in late 1970 as his kid knew how to tune that combination. When I made my first license runs in the car it was trying to carry the front so we added around 50 lbs of lead. The front and canard wings are pretty much a must in NT/F. My best was only 6.200/222.09 but on the mandatory small tire 31 x 12/13" you need all the downforce that you can get.
If you build a stack injected small block you can probably get away with a shorter wheelbase but remember that back in the day most cars were direct drive and the tires and tracks were not as good. Now, with modern tires, "glued" tracks and torque converters and two speed transmissions it is generally a good idea to put the motor further out to keep the front end down. Shorter wheelbases are not generally a bad thing but you need to have the whole package correct. For instance Mike Sullivan's Fiat fuel altered is only 118" but runs 6 flats at 220 plus mph because he runs it like a dragster with smaller tires and direct drive. As such is does not try to wheelstand at the hit or at the point where a lot of the others are shifting into high gear.