The “Killer Car”

Backed by South Amboy, New Jersey’s Briggs Chevrolet and race-prepped at Ralph Truppi and Tommy Kling’s Truppi-Kling Competition shop, this mighty 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 Convertible was the terror of Super Stock drag racing in 1970 and 1971. In advance of its offering at RM Auctions’ Icons of Speed & Style auction in September 2009, I was thrilled to write this article on the “Killer Car” for the Summer 2009 edition of RM Magazine. Best of all, I tracked down and interviewed its driver, Ray Allen, for the article. A lifetime before, I first learned of the Truppi-Kling/Ray Allen Chevelle in 1971 with the car forming part of my prized Drag Champs trading-card set from Fleer, as well as a feature article in Car Craft magazine.

An unlikely car and body style, this lone Chevrolet was famous for its wheels-up launches and uncanny ability to humble Chrysler’s Hemi cars that were essentially thinly-disguised, factory-built racecars. So much so, that Chrysler had a special Superbird “cheater” built specifically to either defeat Allen and the Chevelle during the early rounds (and then leave before NHRA tech inspections found its many rule-violating mods) or, in a more unlikely scenario, induce Allen to redlight. As I understand it, the two cars never faced each other, but such a confrontation with so much at stake would have been electrifying to watch! I finally saw the Superbird at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania in October 2009, while on my way with a group to a museum fundraiser. I was thrilled to see it; my colleagues, not so much.

The infamous “cheater” Superbird, purpose-built to take out the Truppi-Kling/Ray Allen Chevelle. It was first intended to be driven by Jack Werst, the famous Chrysler Super Stock drag racer, who was best-known as “Mr. 5 and 50,” a Chrysler Warranty representative who dealt with the company’s industry-leading 5-year/50,000-mile warranty program. I nearly tripped over myself to see it!