Photo credit: realautosport.com

Those front wheels. The first time I saw the opening photo my thoughts drifted to a first-gen Oldsmobile Toronado engine and drivetrain stuffed into a smaller and lighter Dodge Aspen. After digging a little deeper I learned it’s far from that simple, and much more clever.

Scott Harvey’s race career started in 1953 when he drove a MG TD while studying Mechanical Engineering at UCLA. In the late 50's he joined the Chrysler Group yet entered a Mercedes 300D in the 1961 Shell 4000 Trans-Canada Rally. Finished 7th overall too. In 1963 he placed 5th in the Shell 4000 with the help of his co-driver Bob Mollman in a beautifully prepared Chrysler 300J (pictured above).

Photo credit: allpar.com

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He would eventually run a team of 3 Barracudas. It was during this time he started sharing his signature phrase with the team, “Crash, burn, win”. By 1975 he was employed as a senior engineer with Chrysler in their prototype development department. Story goes, he wanted to bring more attention to Chrysler through rally events, but maybe he just wanted to win in a unique and most wonderful way.

Since 1972 Harvey had visions of building a light, powerful, 4WD rally car with an independent front suspension. He’d considered modifying a Dodge Colt but ultimately decided it wasn’t feasible. Then, in a twist of fate, he located a Dodge Aspen with heavy front end damage.

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In 1976 Harvey acquired the Aspen and proceeded to design and build a new front end from 1¾-inch chrome moly tubing. Considerable thought went into the design. The engine was moved a full 18 inches rearward compared to stock.

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Wanting to support customers racing their new compact car, Chrysler ran a special parts program for the Aspen. Through the Chrysler SP-1 catalog almost anything could be had. Harvey ordering a full roll cage and modified it to create more structural rigidity.

The engine was also courtesy of the SP-1 catalog in the form of a 360ci V8. W-2 heads, a Holley 4-barrel carb, an aluminum Holley intake manifold, and 2-inch headers helped produce around 300hp in its original form.

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Power was sent through a 727 3-speed TorqueFlite with B&M valving to a New Process 203 full-time transfer case containing a Ferguson viscous coupling.

From there power was sent to a FWD Toronado open differential with 3.54:1 gearing and into Toronado axles and hubs. Most of the Toronado suspension was used albeit modified to fit. Shocks were also from the Chrysler SP-1 catalog.

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At the rear was a 8¾ Chrysler limited slip differential sporting 3.55:1 gears.

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Great attention was paid to weight savings. A fiberglass hood, fenders, and bumpers helped contributed to the car weighing in at 3200lbs.

Photo left is a wheel adapter that would allow Harvey to carry only one spare wheel on-board.

He named his 4WD creation the Cheetah.

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Scott Harvey didn’t enter the car in every Rally he could find. He is quoted as saying “It would cost too much to fix if I break it”. He regularly ran a Dodge Colt. Below is a list of rallies entered, all of which were with his co-driver Randy Graves.

1977

  • Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, SCCA Pro Rally- DNF
  • Olympus Rally, NARRA - DNF
  • Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally, SCCA Pro Rally - DNF
  • Happiness is Sunrise, NARRA - 1st
  • Sunriser 400 Forest Rally, SCCA Pro Rally- 2nd
  • Press-on-Regardless Rally, SCCA Pro Rally - DNF

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1978

  • MWAC 20 Stages Rally, NARRA - 1st
  • Northern Lights Rally, NARRA - 3rd
  • Press-on-Regardless Rally, SCCA Pro Rally - DNF

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1979

  • MWAC 20 Stages Rally, NARRA - DNF
  • Press-on-Regardless Rally, SCCA Pro Rally - 2nd
  • Sno*Drift Rally, SCCA Pro Rally - 3rd

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1980

  • Press-on-Regardless Rally, SCCA Pro Rally- DNF

1981

  • Budweiser Press-on-Regardless, SCCA Pro Rally - 6th

You might be thinking there are a lot of DNFs in that list and you’d be right, but the only DNF related to the 4WD system was their first race (the transfer case gave up the ghost). When they did finish, they finished very well.

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In the top right corner of the photo above you’ll see that a turbo was added at some point in the cars life. Given Scott Harvey’s creativity, engineering know-how, and access to Dodge resources, the engine must have made a healthy dose of power. I could find no reference to the turbo anywhere on the web. This leads me to believe it was added for their last race...

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In 1982 the two took the Cheetah to Pikes Peak.

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They finished the race with a time of 14:45.00, second only to an Audi Quattro in the Pro Rally Class.

Photo credit: aspenandvolare.com

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Where’s the car today? It’s thought to still be in a collector’s garage in Kearney Nebraska.

Photo credit: widgetracing.com

This photo was taken at the 2007 Gorman Ridge Rally. He took 2nd place in the Production GT Class with his Eagle Talon. He was 77 years old.

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Where ever you are Mr. Harvey, “Crash, burn, win.”