Fiat Topolino Bad Habit Fuel Altered
Perhaps one of drag racing’s most exciting vehicles for spectators and drivers alike, fuel altered competition vehicles were often based on prewar coupes and roadsters, running on a short wheelbase while using nitromethane for fuel. Classified as AA/FA, these cars were known for high wheel stands and ill-handling sideways runs.
Though considered by many to be a California phenomenon, fuel altereds actually existed throughout North America during their heyday. Campaigned by the team of Charlie Hill and Bob Parmer, the legendary “Bad Habit” Fiat Topolino out of Wrightsville, PA was one such machine. This car was built from scratch in 1970 as an attempt to revolutionize the fuel altered division, which up to this point primarily consisted of actual vintage machinery with racing modifications. Hill had formerly been known in the gasser classes for his record-setting “Filthy Forty” unblown Willys gasser (driven by Pork Zartman), part of the S&S Speed Shop team. Bob Parmer built the frame at Hill’s shop and, as co-owner, also agreed to drive the car.
Everything was constructed from the best materials available, with the body being a replica of a 1937 Fiat Topolino created by Fiberglass Trends. The engine was a 426-inch supercharged Chrysler Hemi with Keith Black equipment backed by a two-speed Crowerglide (later replaced by a Lenco transmission) and narrowed 5.12-geared Chrysler differential.
A feature in CARS magazine noted that this was basically a funny car in miniature and should be the quickest in the country. That prediction soon proved correct when Parmer flirted in the low seven-second zone throughout the ’71 season. He then drove it to a blistering, track-record 6.96 at Maple Grove Raceway in August 1971, following that up almost immediately by clocking the first-ever six-second AA/FA run at the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis with a 6.91 pass, going to the final for the AA/FA class title and establishing a new national record. It is by far the most famous AA/FA from the East Coast and was perhaps the last hurrah for the division, which was being overshadowed by funny car racing. The team retired this car when they too went to that division.
As offered, the car has been repainted to 1970s trim and features a supercharged Keith Black Hemi motor (1968 Chrysler block), driveline and paperwork that includes copies of the original chassis drawings by Hill Enterprises.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in September 2009 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California.
Supercharged Keith Black 426 cu. in. Hemi engine with 1968 steel block, Lenco transmission with 8.75 Chrysler differential, Fiberglass Trends body, 100-inch chrome-moly chassis.
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel