“Chevy 2 Much” Funny Car by Doug Thorley Now for Sale
Memories! One of the first funny cars ever and the first car to install a “wheelie-bar”. Lengendary header builder Doug Thorley decided to rebuild his Chevy II and that is what he did. When the NHRA museum opened there was Doug’s old car ready to race again. It has been on display in the Wally Park’s NHRA museum for the last 10 years. As Doug says, “I rebuilt the car to its exact original. I even used the original chassis guy and the original tin man to fabricate the car.”
History: One of the west coasts first altered wheelbase funny cars. According to an early article in Super Stock Magazine, “When Bee Platt, the wife of Hubert Platt first saw the brilliantly painted Chevy, she couldn’t refrain from drawling ‘that Chevy is tooo much’ which Doug quickly adapted to, ‘Chevy 2 Much.’” Doug exclaimed, “In those days those of us building these altered cars were outcastes. Why the mainstream magazines wouldn’t even write articles on us. It was hard to get the strip owners to let us even run!”
Another article in February 1966 read, “Doug picked up the car from a used car lot for $600, then invested $8,000 and three months of time in its preparation. Thorley partnered up in the venture [with] Dee Keaton… Together, they foresaw the coming popularity of the “funny cars” to the western scene and commenced their project.”
In an interview with DRM he was asked how the car began. He answered, “Hubert Platt had come out from Georgia one winter with a new (’64 427) Falcon. I’d known Hubert for years and had just built him a set of headers. There was a match race coming up and he’d burned his hand pretty bad so he asked me if I wanted to drive the car. I took two rides in the car…and it was off the ground most of the time all the way through the quarter. Well, that really hooked me, and the minute I got back to the shop I started on ‘Chevy 2 Much.’ I copied Hubert’s car cuz it was factory backed, thinking Ford had already figured [it all] out.”
The interview with DRM adds this historic question, “Tell us about Chevy 2 Much. In 1966 there were only a handful of NHRA national events?and no Funny Car Eliminator?so you must have built it as a match racer?” Doug’s relates, “Yep, that’s all we did in those days was match race. It was an altered wheelbase ’64 Chevy II built by Ted Brown. It had an alcohol-injected 396 big-block at first and weighted around 2100 pounds. It ran in the high 9’s at over 150 mph, and I think it might have been the first 4-speed car over 150. It was a ball to drive because it was off the ground or sideways most of the time. It was the only ‘funny car’ in Southern California outside of Jack Chrisman’s blown Comet, and it got so popular people wanted me to bring it back east and race the factory cars like the Ramchargers Dodge and (Ed) Schartman’s Comet. I could beat those cars to the 1/8 mile, but then they’d come around me by 30 mph.”
Driver/builder/owner:Who is Doug Thorley? To quote the Petronics website (new owners of Doug’s Headers) on the page “About Doug’s Headers” it states, “Recently elected to five different drag racing halls of fame, Doug is truly one of the pioneers in the manufacturing of high performance exhaust systems!”
Though the header business has now been sold who can forget the early days when it seemed like everyone was running a pair of custom made headers made by Doug. In fact when you visit the Wally Park’s NHRA museum notice how many historic cars were running his headers in those days.? See small print on the sides of the cars.
In an interview Doug stated, “I was at the gate when Lion’s Drag Strip opened and raced there until the strip was closed. One of my first cars was a tooled 1938 Buick which accomplished many trophy runs at Lions. Another early car was called “the world’s fastest Corvette in 1962 at 134.54 in ¼ mile eventually holding the NHRA B/MSP record and 213 mph at Bonneville.” “My most popular car the Corvair deemed the ‘world’s fastest funny car in 1967 with a top speed of 202.2 and a 7.60 et winning the Indy U.S., Nationals. Newer drag racers will remember my Javelin I which was one of the first rear engine cars with a blown Hemi in a AMC. By the time I was running the Chevy II we had built and raced 25 cars at various strips around the country.” He later added, “The racing atmosphere was a perfect place to perfect racing parts and develop new innovate engineering ideas. We continually improved headers, heads, blowers and various injection systems, chassis and safety items. It was wonderful.”
When the NHRA museum first opened Doug and his wife Dorothy did volunteer work for 10 years. During that time they were able to help create a historical record of many aspects of racing history from drag racing to Bonneville. They like many of us from our generation are doing all they can to establish historicity of racing for future generations!
Car history: The original chassis builder Ted Brown has completely reconstructed the frame. The sheet metal was done by the original tin-man Doug Cruz. The paint was done by Gil’s Auto Body in original bright candy tangerine-red paint scheme. An early write up stated, “Much altered wheelbase finals out at 98-inchs. Both front and rear axle have been moved forward.” Innovating ‘in the day’ the same write up states, “Specially fabricated tube crossmember supports rear of transmission. Note also the tube structure to contain the driveshaft in case of U-joint breakage. Traction bars are of rectangular steel tubing and attached to combination spring plate and shock mount.” Regarding early performance the article stated, “Plagued by big wheelies… the car has yet to make a complete full-power run through the quarter.” As noted above, this was solved by the invention of the first wheelie bar; lending itself to keeping this fuely four speed straight. The body and chassis along with wheels and tires are as originally run.
The engine and transmission currently installed in the car while in the museum are ‘shells.’ A finished engine by HL Shahan with completed Hilborn injected 454 c.i. – 60 over, line bored and balanced 4 bolt main engine comes with the sale of the car. (Doug knew that an engine, setting in the museum for years would seize up, thus the reason for the engine shell being in the car at the museum.) Art Carr will supply the 400R Chevy transmission and converter when sold. It has a 9 inch Ford rear end.
Museum reconstruction: In an interview Doug stated, “We created this 2nd car in my original header shop in Riverside. I still have the pink slip for the original car somewhere.” What happened to the 1st car? Doug, “I sold it to a speed shop in Riverside. He put an automatic into the car because the car was getting away from him with the four speed. Then he sold it to some guys in Chicago who changed the wheelbase and put it into the wall and totaled it.”
Why did you decide to recreate the ‘Chevy 2 Much’? Doug, “Steve Gibbs who was running the museum wanted me to put a car in the museum. So after that Fletch, the original builder came into my shop and reconstructed the car. Then, Doug Cruz who did the original tin helped out.” How many cars were in the museum? Doug, “Twenty or so cars originally.”
Special thanks to friends who labored with us originally and on the rebuild: Tom Rodriguez, HL Shahan, Gary Slusser, Ted Brown, Fletch and Doug Kruse. Also, Junior Thompson for helping me take the hood off at the museum for the photo-shoot!
Terms of sale: $225,000.00 Contact Don at 619.804.8033 or go to www.HistoricRaceCarForum.com.
Country: United States