Legendary Motor City Street Racers - Together at Last at the Automotive Hall of Fame
In the 1960s and early ‘70s, there were three Detroit area street racers that couldn’t be beat – a legendary Hemi-powered 1967 Plymouth GTX, known far and wide as the Silver Bullet, a modified ’49 Cadillac known as Bad Cad Zeus that was burning up Gratiot Avenue, and a 1961 Ford Galaxie Starliner called Orange Crush that roamed the north suburbs.
Legend has it that these three cars never lost a race. And they have never met head-to-head – until now. They are all on display at the Automotive Hall of Fame through March.
“For Detroit area cruisers, these cars are legendary,” said Jeffrey Leestma, Automotive Hall of Fame president. “And it’s hard to believe that these three amazing cars have never been displayed at the same time and place until now.”
The Silver Bullet was the most famous of all the Woodward cruisers, powered by a 650 horsepower Hemi engine provided by Mopar to test racing components. The car was originally owned and modified by Jimmie Addison, a Birmingham gas station mechanic with Mopar connections, who raced it to fame up and down Woodward. The Silver Bullet was so dominant that Car Craft magazine once called it “the absolute ruler of Woodward Avenue.”
The Bad Cad Zeus, an east side bruiser with a modified Chevy L88 engine is also believed to be unbeaten. Originally owned by Gary Ellinger, this 4,300 lb. behemoth with a Corvette “Big Block” could cover a quarter mile in less than 12 seconds at speeds reaching 120 mph.
The Orange Crush is powered by a monster 427 SOHC-powered, 622 horsepower Ford racing engine, a car so powerful that Hot Rod magazine called it “Battlestar Gallactica.” Incredibly, this car is still in the hands of its original owner, John Vermeersch.
Although street legal, these cars featured both factory and aftermarket racing components to dramatically boost performance. “These three automobiles represent a bygone era when the lines were blurred between street cars and race cars,” said Leestma. “They truly are works of art.”
The three cars will be displayed now through March at the Automotive Hall of Fame, located next to The Henry Ford on Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn. Admission is $8 for adults with discounts for seniors and youth. Open 9am to 5pm (closed Mondays and Tuesdays until Memorial Day weekend). For more information call 313-240-4000 or go to automotivehalloffame.org.