The Funny Car has a serious pull upon car culture and drag racing, where it represents a legitimate racing class that’s still grabbing headlines today.
Resembling “oversized stock cars,” according to ESPN, Funny Cars have their roots in “Altered Wheelbase Experimental” cars, or A/FX, whose rear (and sometimes front) wheels were relocated forward on the chassis, shifting the center of gravity to the rear. In racing, this transfer of horsepower to the back wheels along a shortened wheel base enhanced traction as the car moved down the track—trading equilibrium for a burst of manic power. The modifications lent the car a non-standard, or “funny,” appearance.
Nostalgia for the golden days of drag racing has prompted a resurgence of interest in Funny Cars—often vintage-style bodies mounted on modern frames. Today’s top Funny Car engines burn fuel at roughly the rate of a 450-ton Boeing 747 jumbo jet. The four official Funny Cars represented in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) are the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Charger, Ford Mustang, and Toyota Camry.
Key traits and characteristics of funny cars include:
- Tilt-up fiberglass or carbon fiber body
- Custom fabricated chassis
- Ground clearance of three inches
- Forward-mounted engines: placed in front of the driver, rather than behind, as in a dragster. Engines typically have varying piston heights and ratios, determined by the piston’s proximity to air intake
- Fuel systems that propel the cars’ power. Funny Cars can burn as much as 15 gallons of fuel during a single run
- V-8 engine, with two valves per cylinder; and somewhere between 7,500 and 8,000 hp
- Ballistic blankets to protect the part of the engine prone to explosion
- Fixed gear ratio of 3.20:1, with reversing gear and multiple-staged clutch
- Twin parachutes to help decelerate and stabilize the car, once it crosses the finish line
- Roll cages and fire extinguishers, both necessary safety measures – because Funny Cars have serious hazards
There is nothing funny about these cars as they have serious power in how they are built and how they are still relevant. Something funny happened on the way to a drag race, a well-built car that has the captured the imagination of every car lover!