Last fall, New Jersey member Dave Benasutti contacted me to say that he'd been surfing the Internet and found a web site that belonged to a company by the name of Hackett Brass in Detroit, MI. Dave gave me the URL and I looked it up. On that web site is a brief history of the company, a foundry which was established in 1917. In that history is the following paragraph: Hackett cast the spoiler stanchions for the first Daytona Charger. These were the tall stanchions that held the spoiler well above the roofline for stock car racing. Later we produced a shorter version for the street Charger".
I was intrigued and sent a letter to Hackett Brass asking if someone was still with the company who could elaborate on this particular job. I really didn't hold out much hope, considering the stanchion job would have taken place in late 1968 or early 1969, 30 some odd years ago. What are the chances the same employee, foreman or even manager that worked on this project may still be with the company now?
Much to my surprise, several weeks later I received a letter from Mr. Charles E. Fine, retired Vice President of Hackett Brass! Here is what Mr. Fine shared with me:
"I enjoyed your letter and have looked at many of the pictures on your web site. I'm afraid I can't provide any documentation detail about the Daytona Charger tail stanchions, but I do have a few memories of the project.
Hackett Brass is a small, family owned jobbing foundry that specializes in tooling castings, primarily copper for body line spot welding guns. In the '50s and '60s we were associated with Centr-O-Cast, a permanent mold foundry that produced much of the Chrysler trim before die casting took over, as well as trans-mission bell housings and transmission extensions for light truck and marine applications.
In '68 or '69 Centr-O-Cast approached us with a problem. Chrysler needed experimental spoiler stanchions for the Daytona Charger and, if successful, a production run to qualify the car for stock [car] racing. Permanent mold tools couldn't be built fast enough for their needs; could we build sand tooling and produce 50 pair in time for the upcoming stock car racing season. Fifty units was the minimum production for a stock car.
We managed to produce a few pair, which apparently were satisfactory, as we were given a rush order to qualify the car for that year's Daytona 500. Once we had finished, Centr-O-Cast built dies and went into production for the 'real' stock version-about 2,500 sets. My memory is that our sand cast stanchion placed the spoiler well above the roof line while the permanent mold version placed the spoiler only slightly above. I believe the difference was about 6 inches. I don't know if any of the original track version were sold to the public.
There is some difference of memory in the shop. My partner believes we made 500 pair. His job was to deliver castings to the polisher and then to Creative Industries for painting and installation. He made so many trips he knows there were more than 50 pair.
Our manufacture of the production run was amusing to watch. We usually did not produce quantities of any large castings, and we did not have much room in our 8,500 square foot building for anything more than rough trim. However our customer wanted finished parts, polished and ready for paint. So we set up repair welding and repair workstations on the sidewalk beside the foundry. As long as it didn't rain our crews were outside with long extension cords and air lines to power the hand tools used to produce our finished parts while the neighbors stood around to watch the excitement.
Since we were not responsible for the engineering, we do not have drawings of any of these parts, and the tooling disappeared long ago."
A very special THANKS to Mr. Fine for taking the time to so generously share these memories with us. This just puts another piece in the puzzle as to how our cars were built!
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