A landmark book about a landmark American hot rod

At one time, the lean, incredibly sleek Goldenrod was the fastest car in America. And that’s by the definition of a car as a vehicle with an actual driveline, with its engine or engines utilizing a transmission to transfer that power to its driving wheels. Over the past 50 years and then some, the definition of speed has belonged to jet- and rocket-powered wheeled missiles arrowing across the Bonneville Salt Flats or Black Rock dry lake, among other suitable locales, using thrust for propulsion. Goldenrod was built by a couple of traditionalist hot rodders, using an internal combustion driveline, the old-fashioned way. It held the land speed record for wheel-driven vehicles for 45 years. This terrific book tells the story of its creation and restoration.

In 295 hardcover pages on heavy paper, the restorer, land-speed specialist John Baechtel, tells how Goldenrod was first conceived and built. Construction and detail photos liberally dot the text, along with engineering drawings, full specifications for the streamliner’s quartet of inline-mounted racing Chrysler Hemi engines, and its FIA certification. Those into math can also find the equations that builders Bob and Bill Summers worked up on slide rules to determine Goldenrod’s power needs based on its weight and frontal area. Bob Summers, who died in 1992, coaxed the car to a two-way average of 409.277 MPH at Bonneville in 1965, with an estimated 2,400hp on tap. Goldenrod was acquired by The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, in 2002 and Baechtel undertook its restoration. The wheel-driven LSR, by the way, was reset in 2010 by Charles Nearburg at Bonneville, running more than 417 MPH in the single-engine Spirit of Rett. You can order this excellent book from Autobooks-Aerobooks in beautiful downtown Burbank, California, for $99.95; tell ’em we sent you.

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