SMALL WONDER Complete story by Troy HEITZENRATER :
The Small Wonder car originated back in 1965 in Woburn, Massachussets (New England, USA), and was a promotional racer for the John Harrison / Volkswagen and Import franchise from 1965 till 1971. During the late 1960's, Volkswagen dealers here in the states were independant companies, with no general over-sight from corporate VWAG. Anyways, this John Harrison "dealership" was also the first EMPI dealership in New England. (Check out the Car Craft magazine from Feb. 1970. There is a picture of Small Wonder in their advertisment.) The car started as an I-Gas class racer #196, @1092 lbs, and held nearly twenty class wins at both Colchester and New England Dragways. The car is to spec about 92% original (thanks to some great friends and also a lot of road trips.... someday I'll write the entire story for you.).
It has EMPI fiberglass doors, fenders, (fronts are the same as the original Inch Pincher, thus both cars raced at the same time, era), hood with empi tach, rear decklid, rear push bar, Empi fiberglass racing seat with EMPI pad, original GTV wheel, empi oil pressure guage, side scoops, door pulls, and rear louver trim. The body is a 1962 and sits on a special box tube chassis (built to replace the original pan around 1968-69 by the Haulin Chassis Company, and features roll cage and mono-tube set up. (More on that later).
In the engine compartment sits a 2180cc engine with an SPG roller crank, straight cut Berg gears which turn a FK87 camshaft, Vertex mag, Deano (purple) oil pump and origianal Empi sump, Mahle Stroker B pistons (skirted by the same company that originally did them), 041 heads match ported and polished to meet tall EMPI intakes and dual 48IDA's which are controlled via an original Moon hydraulic gas pedal, which sets next to a Hurst shifter and moon knob. The 041 heads run Mannley valves and seats with Berg triple springs, and original EMPI posr rockers, all covered by a set of original EMPI valve covers and original breather system which has been with the car since first built. The exhaust is an origianl Empi Extractor, and the gas tank is even an original EELOG (I guess that's how you spell it). I rebuilt the engine myself (I've been a Volkswagen and Porsche tech since 1981), and even spent the time to back file the main bearing to help control the oil pressure increase without floating the mains.
The transmission I recently rebuilt, and features welded and cross drilled close-ratio gears, drilled sliders, a ZF Limited Slip diff from an early Porsche, EE Lindskog lightened flywheel with KEP welded pressure plate and Zindo clutch, straight cut crown axles, and Porsche "A" rear aluminum brakes. The trans also sits on solid mounts. The front axle is an original 60's "mono-tube" unit, you know, the kind they outlawed back in 1972 after countless cars crashed due to steering directional loss when doing wheel stands on take-offs. The whole vehicle runs on BRM's with M&H Racemasters on the rear, and bias plys (holding 8 lbs of air) on the front.
Now go back and check the original spec sheet for the Inch Pincher. A lot of the goodies on Small Wonder were first used by Dean and Darryl, and then sold to franchises to test. The girdle on the trans was built be Deano himself back in 1965. Before his death (about 6 years ago), I managed to talk with him and show him pictures of the race car. I also spent many phone calls with the Schley Brothers, and also Mr. Mitchell from "Thunder Bug" fame, who remembers seeing this car race in Long Island, New York back in the 1968-69 era. In fact, the heavy roof chop on Small Wonder led to his drastic roof chop on his sedan, 3 years later. Alas, Small Wonder was forced out of the NHRA contention by the 1971 rule changes in I-Gas which stated no more than a 4" roof chop, and NO laying back the windsheild. Since Hot VW's magazine started up in the 1970-71 season, Small Wonder never got its due publicity. I have spoken to so many old-timers who have seen it, or even raced against it.
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