September 15, 2021

Vintage-Nitro

Still car-crazy after all these years

Ced’s Muffler Bubble Top Nova Funny Car

Although there were a number of roadster funny cars in 1967, the Ced's Muffler Nova set itself apart by enclosing the driver inside a bubble top canopy
Injected, bubble top Nova ran the UDRA circuit in 1967. Looks like Della Woods is in the far lane.

This bubble top Nova was another funny car on hand for Detroit Dragway’s Midwest Championships in 1967. Part of the UDRA circuit, the Ced’s Muffler entry was based out of Chicago.

Although there were a number of roadster funny cars in 1967, few of them were equipped with a bubble top. I’m not sure if the owner of this Nova had a special top cast for the car, or whether he adapted a war surplus fighter plane canopy. Either way is was a rather unique look for a funny car.’

It seems to me that it would get pretty hot inside that canopy on a sunny day. In addition, the close confines of the bubble prevented the use of a NASCAR style roll cage. There is probably a roll bar in the head rest behind the driver. From the angle of this photo, it seems that the driver’s head protrudes above the roll bar, a rather dicey approach to driver protection in the event of a major roll over.

The little Chevy ran nitro, or at least competed against nitro burning cars at the Championships. The stacks sticking through the hood indicate it was an injected car, although there is no way to verify the power plant. I assume it was a Chevy rat motor, but similar match-bash Novas were equipped with a small block Chevy or early Chrysler Hemi. The way the stacks are arranged, it could be a small-block Chevy car.

A lot of topless funny cars appeared in the mid-sixties, as drivers frantically sought ways to cut weight from their steel bodied entries. Removing the top, windshield and rear window represented a significant weight savings, to say nothing of the aerodynamic benefits..

While the cars might run quicker without a top, most of the fans thought they were a little too radical. The appeal of the match race cars was that they looked like the cars you would see on the street, with the performance, noise and smoke of a top-fuel car. Altering the wheelbase was acceptable, but removing the top destroyed the appearance of an actual street car.

As one-piece, fiberglass bodies began to proliferate, there was no need to jettison the top to obtain weight savings, so the topless trend quickly died away.

Interestingly, in researching this post, I found the primary sponsor for the Nova, Ced’s Muffler, is still in business in Chicago. Maybe they could provide more details about this bubble top Chevy II.