One of Six Built, Driven by Gas Ronda
Engine 427 CI
Color Poppy Red
ESTIMATE $500,000 - $750,000
AHRA World Champion in 1966
Driven by Gas Ronda
1 of 6 stretched Mustangs constructed by Holman and Moody
Campaigned by Russ Davis Ford
Later raced as The Lady Bug
Comprehensive restored by Eric Lindberg of Elk River, Minnesota
Cover car on Drag/Sport April 16, 1966 issue
427 CI SOHC V-8 engine
Poppy Red exterior
Hilborn fuel injection
Stretched fiberglass bodywork
Restoration photo binder
Meadow Brook Blue Ribbon
The name Gas Ronda was perfect for a drag racer, but nobody ever expected that this special 1966 Ford Mustang would still exist today. That year, things in the quarter-mile sport reached critical mass, a response to huge performance increases in 1965. This car is one of just six numbered examples that were constructed for Ford by the legendary Holman-Moody shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it is believed be the most correct example today. No expense was spared in bringing this representative of the group back to its as-raced specifications, reliving perhaps the most exciting year in Ford's experimental drag-racing programs.
Gas Ronda was already a familiar name. The 1964 NHRA Stock Eliminator World Champion, Ronda had been highly visible as an inaugural member of the Ford Drag Council, helped in part by his professional appearance and excellent driving. Ronda was among the handful of drivers who Ford selected to continue racing in what soon became the NHRA's XS classes, created in April 1966 to find a place for the burgeoning stock-bodied modifieds swelling the “funny car” ranks. By this time, Ronda had already been rewarded for his efforts in this Russ Davis-sponsored car with a victory in C/Fuel Dragster at the Winternationals and a big 8.96 win at the Smokers Championships at Bakersfield.
Holman-Moody is best-known for spearheading Ford's NASCAR development, but it was tasked in 1965 and 1966 with building drag-racing cars for the company's top racers. As Chrysler had done in 1965, Ford took wheelbase relocation to an extreme when creating these models under chassis serial-number C6HM-DR, of which Ronda's was the first at 10066. The lengthened cars used an all-fiberglass body structure mounted on a special tube chassis, but these were not "flip-top" versions like Mercury debuted that same year. In fact, the Ronda car has a functional driver's-side door, making the Holman-Moody cars unique hybrids between the former A/FX vehicles and the full-tilt lift-off body versions that were then arriving. Purpose-built only for racing, the black interior is spartan, featuring performance equipment and aluminum paneling. After being rejected by NHRA for carbureted FX usage in January 1966, these cars quickly went to injectors and exotic fuel. As it turned out, the added wheelbase played a key role in stabilizing these “long nose” Mustangs as performance grew exponentially during that same season.
Beneath the lengthy hood is the incredible 427 CI Ford SOHC engine. Originally designed for possible use in NASCAR and one of the most advanced valvetrain layouts to emerge from any Detroit automaker in the 1960s, the "Cammer" was never a true production engine, and today it remains an immediate status symbol for its few owners. Here, it’s backed with a 3-speed automatic, as the original 4-speed manual proved unsuccessful at harnessing so much horsepower. Running a highly explosive blend of nitromethane and methanol, Ronda eventually pushed this very car to an impressive 174.08 MPH performance record. Capable of 8-second performances, his winning continued as well, taking the 1966 AHRA Championships in Texas and beating the likes of Ronnie Sox at “Drag Racing” magazine’s East-West Championships at Lions Drag Strip before the end of the season. It was the cover car for several magazines and newspapers during that period as well.
Raced by Pat Mahnken following its sale, this car later became known as the “Lady Bug” before disappearing in the early 1970s. After many years, expert collector Mike Guffey located the car, and using numerous reference images and ownership history, was able to verify its origins. Most recently, this incredible vehicle was turned over to FX restoration specialist Eric Lindberg of Elk River, Minnesota, who carefully sanded down the body to reveal Ronda's original red paint—the lettering was removed prior to its first sale by Russ Davis Ford—before correctly repainting it to its trademark Poppy Red with accurately positioned lettering for 1966. Sold with a restoration photo binder filled with paperwork, images and periodical references, this car took a Meadow Brook Concours Blue Ribbon following its refreshing.
This amazing car has been featured in “Extreme Muscle Cars” by Bill Holder & Phil Kunz, “Ford Total Performance” by Martin Schorr, “Drag Racing Funny Cars” by Lou Hart, “Holman-Moody The Legendary Race Team" by Tom Cotter and Al Pearce, “Drag Racing's Quarter-Mile Warriors” by Doug Boyce, “Match Race Mayhem” by Doug Boyce and “Ford Drag Team” by Charles Morris. With its incredible history and accurate representation, this is yet another car from the Factory Lightweights collection that has not been available at auction prior to this sale. You want the best: this is it.
Auction Dat Kissimmee, January 5-14, 2018