April 15, 2021

Vintage-Nitro

Still car-crazy after all these years

Dave Zackary’s Cadillac Eldorado Funny Car

Dave Zackary's experiment with a steel body, flip-top Cadillac funny car was great match-race draw, but ended in tragedy.
Dave Zackary: The all steel, flip-top Eldorado Funny Car
It may look stock, but Dave Zackary campaigned this all steel, flip-top Eldorado Funny Car

Dave Zackary decided the drag racing world needed at least one Cadillac funny car. To that end, he created this one-of-a-kind Eldorado flopper.

Since no one offered a fiberglass Eldo body shell, Zackary created his own one-piece body by welding together stock Cadillac sheet metal components. The resulting body was said to be much heavier than the fiberglass shells decorating his competitors, but Zackary could still boast he ran the quickest and fastest Cadillac Eldorado in the world.

Zackary also built the chassis, utilizing square tubing. The chassis rails consisted of long, straight pieces of tubing, only interrupted by a small dragster-style roll bar.

For power, Zackary started with an injected Chevy “rat-motor.” The heavy, steel body rendered that set-up uncompetitive, so Zackary upgraded to a blower, eventually trading the Chevy for a full-tilt Keith-Black Hemi.

Zackary displayed the Caddy at the ’68 Detroit Autorama, where I shot these photos. As you can see the Eldorado looks completely stock, with the exception of the blower poking through the hood.

I’m not sure which engine Zackary was running at the time, as they never raised the body while I was around. In addition to the oddity of being a Cadillac flip-top with a steel shell, the car was also noteworthy because the body was hinged at the front and raised from the rear.

Sadly, we will never know if Zackary could have made the Eldorado competitive against the ‘glass Comets, Mustangs, Novas and Barracudas that dominated the funny car scene in 1968. In September of that year, Zackary was killed when the car went out of control on a full throttle run at Lexington, Kentucky.

According to Dragstripdeaths, the Eldorado barrel-rolled in the lights. Reportedly, the roll bar failed and Zachary did not survive the crash.

Thus ended the life of the colorful figure who conceived the idea of a steel bodied, fliptop Eledorado funny car.