The end of the 1960s marked the beginning of a huge safety push in motorsport partly as a result of Ralph Nader’s campaigning. One of the casualties of this was the Rocket Drag Axle built by Turbonique in Florida. Designed for a few seconds use at a time to get you down the strip faster essentially it’s a jet booster powered by solid fuel known as Thermolene (N-Propyl Nitrate).
The Rocket Drag Axle was connected mechanically to a car’s differential and, when ignited, provided upwards of a 1000hp boost, launching the car forward like it’d been kicked up the rear by an enormous soccer player.
Commissioned by tobacco heir Zachary Reynolds of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, the “Tobacco King” 1964 Ford Galaxie was a wild example of a boosted drag car. The Raven Black Galaxie’s original 390 V8 was replaced with a 425hp 427 Ford big block. A rare Latham axial flow supercharger fed by four Carter one-barrel sidedraft carburettors upped the power again, and an 850hp Rocket Drag Axle was bolted to the rear.
Many parts of the car had to be modified to take the biblical amounts of torque and horsepower. Completing the car’s menacing drag racing appeal is the unpolished American Torque Thrust wheels, black Simpson chute pack and twin large-diameter exhausts. Underneath is the jewel, though: the rocket exhaust pod.
Reynolds died in a plane crash in 1979 having put 3611 miles on the car. It was put into storage until recently, and will be auctioned by Mecum on May 17 in the US along with Reynolds’ personal notebook, registration documents and owner’s manual.
- 1964 Ford Galaxie “Tobacco King” street rod
- Built by Tobacco magnate Zachary Reynolds of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
- All original including Ham Radio equipment
- 3,611 actual miles
- 427/425 HP Ford big-block equipped with Latham Supercharger, four sidedraft Carters
- Rear axle fitted with 850 HP Turbonique turbine Rocket Drag Axle
- Several suspension modifications made for safety
- Documented in an original Turbonique product catalog for 1967 with 4 pages of photos
- Early registrations
- Original owners manual made out to Zachary Taylor Reynolds
- Original Latham Supercharger literature
- Zach’s personal notebook
- The Galaxie’s original and complete 390 V-8 engine accompanies the car