What Came In a Lightweight Package?
I am sure most of you are aware that beginning in 1963 Dodge and Plymouth started to offer what was referred to as "light weight" package cars for drag racing purposes only. Most all off you know about the aluminum fenders and hoods with scoops, but there was more to this package than just those items. In a letter from Chrysler to all Plymouth dealers dated February 21, 1963, the details of the items included in this package were outlined. If you would like a copy of this original letter you can obtain it by getting a copy of Darrell Davis's "Complete Guide to the 1963 Plymouth Super Stock Package." Darrell's Books are listed in the left information column. I do not know when Dodge was issued this letter as I have not seen a copy of it although I am certain they issued a similar letter. In as much as I do not have both Dodge and Plymouth documents for each year it must be assumed that the Dodge and Plymouths had the same amount of described items as each other for all of the following packages. Below is a list of the items included in both max wedge and race hemi packages. I am listing them separately as the Race Hemi has items not included in the Max Wedge package. If any of you have original documents regarding this subject please contact me.
1963 Max Wedge Lightweight Package
Most of the components in the Max Wedge light weight package were stamped aluminum parts instead of the standard production stamped steel parts. These parts are listed in the Chrysler letter as:
1. Aluminum right and left front fenders.
2. Aluminum hood with air scoop.
3. Light weight front bumper and supports.
4. Aluminum front bumper dust shields.
Also included in this lightweight package is black front and rear carpets. This color selection is regardless of interior trim color. I don't have anything on paper that explains this "black only" carpet color but it is important to mention the carpet in the light weight package does not have jute backing applied to the carpet. The removal of this jute backing reduces the weight of the carpet considerably. It also reduces the padded sound insulation of the floor boards making these cars seem rather noisy inside compared to the standard carpeted cars. Another feature of the lightweight package was to move the battery from the engine compartment to the trunk. This was a weight transferring strategy that improved rear tire traction for better launches from the starting line. This feature was adopted into all Max Wedges from that point on and carried into the Race Hemi program as well.
1964 Max Wedge Lightweight Package
In 1964 the light weight was expanded to include more items of a light weight nature to further reduce front end weight on these cars. Below is the list of items as described in a Chrysler letter to Dodge dealers on October 3, 1963. This original letter is included in Darrell Davis's "Complete Guide to the 1964 Dodge Ramcharger and Hemi Charger Package." These parts are listed in the Chrysler letter as:
1. Aluminum hood with air scoop
2. Aluminum front fenders
3. Aluminum front bumper and bumper supports, decals to be affixed to front bumper warning against use of bumper jack
4. Aluminum radiator air shield
5. Aluminum radiator crossbar hood lock vertical support brace
6. No undercoating
7. "Spray-on deadener" will be deleted from entire car
8. Front and rear floor carpets will be without jute backing
9. Dash liners will be omitted
10. Cowl side panel silencer pads will be omitted
This light weight package was not available on the cars equipped with 11 to 1 compression ratio. It is also noted the standard rear axle gear ration with the lightweight package was 4.56 to 1 whereas the 11 to 1 cars came standard with 3.91 to 1 ratio. Although it was not mentioned as a lightweight feature in any of the documents I have found, the steel fan blade used on the clutch fan assembly was replaced with an aluminum bladed fan with a steel hub. I do not have any paperwork that says the Stage III used this aluminum fan before the A-864 Race Hemi engine but it has been suggested by other sources that the stage III was the first. Again if anyone has paperwork that sets the facts in stone I would love to see a copy.
1964 Race Hemi Lightweight Package
When the Race Hemi package cars came out in April of 1964 the package included all of the light weight features that came on the 1964 Max Wedge light weight package. There were also new items added to the above list to further reduce the front end weight of these cars. I do not have a copy of the letter but there was a letter sent to NHRA in March of 1964 detailing the list of additional features added to the Race Hemi cars. They included the following:
1. Light weight thin steel front bumper with aluminum mounting brackets
2. Single headlight grill assembly
3. "Hemi" style larger aluminum hood air scoop
4. Removal of hood hinges, to be replaced with hood pinning posts and hood pins
5. Aluminum doors without arm rest pads and aluminum door hinges
6. "Light weight" bucket seats and aluminum mounting brackets
7. Removal of the entire back seat, to be replaced with additional carpet without jute backing
8. Glass - "Light weight-Corning brand" door and quarter window side glass with quarter window to be affixed in up/closed position. Thin "glass" rear window with special gasket.
9. A larger trunk mounted battery (very heavy), to be placed at the very right rear of the trunk.
10. A special single exhaust system was installed on the 330 two door sedan (post) cars with the muffler mounted side to side just forward of the rear bumper.
1965 Race Hemi Lightweight Package
The light weight package offered in 1965 was only available on the Dodge Coronet and Plymouth Belvedere-I two door sedan (post) bodies. As stated in Chrysler documents "The balance of the unit, the interior trim and seats is basically the same as the 1964 Hemi Charger Super Stock." There are however some changes that include:
1. "Light weight" thin steel front fenders instead of aluminum.
2. "Light weight" thin steel hood with hemi style thin steel air scoop
3. "Light weight" thin steel radiator core support and grill support brackets.
4. Engine weight reducing parts that include a new magnesium crossram intake manifold instead of aluminum.
5. Aluminum hemi cylinder heads
6. Aluminum water pump housing and thermostat housing
7. Aluminum alternator brackets
The thin steel fenders, hood and scoop were a direct result of NHRA no longer allowing cars to be produced with the aluminum parts used on the 1964 Race Hemi cars.