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The Logghe Bros. "Logghe Chassis"

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It all started with the Logghe Stamping Company, founded in 1946 by Morris Logghe, who was born around 1908. Morris came to the U.S. to seek his fortune in the New World, and after working in the Detroit auto industry, he opened a small metal-stamping company in his home garage.
That space was soon over full, and he moved into a rented building in Roseville, Michigan. It was about this time that his sons, Ron and Gene, started in the business. Morris then bought the property and put up a building in Fraser, north of Roseville.

Logghe Stamping supplied high-quality, die-formed products to the auto industry, and by the late 1950s, Ron and Gene were filling important roles in the company but they were also using their  skills to build their own drag-racing machines. The brothers knew the importance of precision, and those skills went into their own projects.
Ron and Gene along with Master Mechanic Roy Steffey and his soon to be brother-in-law Jim Marsh who handled the driving chores, took on the dragster world with the “Giant Killer,” a nimble B/Fuel Dragster with an injected 389-inch small-block built by Roy that scaled below 1,000 pounds.
 
 





















 
 It shocked the bleachers with 8.00-second elapsed times and, ultimately, an astonishing 7.92! On their first trip to the west coast they shook the famous March Meet with runs in the seven’s and by out running a number of the fueler’s that was there.



















 
 
The innovation of controlling clutch slippage as a better means of getting from A to B didn’t happen until 1967. Before that, only the tires provided the slippage, and during a typical run, both participants billowed smoke off the line. Of course, there were two schools of thought: Some favored a heavy car with big horsepower and wire-to-wire tire smoke. And others favored ultralight car and a flyweight driver that relied on a small-block Chevy. As you might imagine the light car left the line quickly and was usually out front with minimal tire spin.
Static weight was the key. Though most unblown cars weighed less than 1,000 pounds, but few of them were less than 900 pounds! Small-block cars with magnesium blowers, blower drives, manifolds, and the factory cast-aluminum heads usually weighed only100 to 150 pounds more. By comparison, most 392 Hemi cars were a heaver 1,150 to 1,250 pounds. Both types ran direct-drive, high-gear-only drivetrains. Chevys used 8.25–9.00 tires, while the Hemi cars ran the larger 9.50–11.00 slicks.
Most of the unblown engines featured a stroker crankshaft for a displacement of 377 or 389 ci. Almost ran fuel injection, with a 12–13.0:1 static compression, and a full load of nitro. Running 98 percent nitromethane was a problem itself, especially push-starting during cold weather, as was experienced by the Logghe, Marsh and Steffey car at Bakersfield in 64 when a broken fuel pump shaft put them out of the competition. Radical ignition advance was also required, often as much as 65 to 70 degrees in the magneto.
The heavier Chrysler powered cars would usually boil the tires right off the line, while their lighter competition most usually disappeared out down the track. A talented driver could deftly feather the throttle or touch the brake handle to get the tires to hook, and a few bold ones perfected the hazardous left-pedal art of manually slipping the clutch to gain traction and minimize tire spin. On a good surface, the edge went to the big horsepower cars with a blazing top-end charge. On slippery track, however, the advantage went to the light cars.
 
For the second Giant Killer chassis, the brothers built a sleek, fully enclosed body. The new “Logghe Liner” was the talk of the 1964 Nationals. However, the thought to be aero-friendly body was heavy and the reliable Giant Killer was quicker. The car also started to fly in the lights and was parked until it could be further refined.


















 
Later in Michigan that season, they strapped Maynard Rupp in the seat. In the lights, the car reacted sharply to aero lift when the rear tires leaped up and daylight showed under both! The car went sideways, but Maynard managed to shut it off and got the chute out, stopping the car without damage. This marked the end the Logghe-Liner. Logghe continued to build several of the lightweight cars for customers and most done well.


The team also enjoyed success with the Logghe-Steffey-Rupp, “Prussian” Top Fuel car in 1965. It featured a Logghe chassis, a Roy Steffey built 392 Hemi, a Al Bergler built full body and Maynard Rupp behind the wheel. The new combo started the season with a win over Connie Kallitta at the first NHRA Springnationals in Bristol,  and ended the year at Tulsa with a World Finals win to become the 1965 World Champions.















 










Durning the next few years, the Logghe Stamping Company Competition Products Division became such a familiar part of drag racing that it was simply called Logghe. Its products defined the term “Funny Car” in early 1966 with the first tube-chassis, flip-top Comet, initially built under contract for Lincoln-Mercury. The first ones were for Don Nicholson and Eddie Schartman and were powered by a normally aspirated Ford 427 SOHC engine.





















































The third chassis was built to accommodate a supercharged SOHC in Jack Chrisman’s topless Comet. Since his 1964–1965 Comets were mainly for exhibition and match racing, his new Logghe car would make “Jack the Bear” seriously competitive rather than just a tire-smoking noise-maker.




























Those first three iterations managed near-total domination of the brave new Funny Car racing world in the 1966 and 1967. That phenomenon spawned a stampede to Logghe for cars powered by all manner of engines and with bodies specified by each customer. More than 200 chassis were built and included Funny Cars, Altereds, dragsters, and even a few Pro Stocks. Regardless, Logghe will always be known as the King of Funny Cars during a reign that lasted from early 1966 until the doors were finally shut in 1975.

By the mid-1960s, LSC’s business expanded to the point that Ron and Gene decided to separate the actual day-to-day, metal-forming business from the race-car operation, thus creating the Competition Products Division. As those cars left the shop, they were usually sent to local craftsman Al Bergler, who folded hand-formed sheet aluminum into precision-fitted bodies. Bergler also ran his own Logghe chassis with a Bantam Competition Coupe body. His “Aggravation” and “More Aggravation” cars were serious performers, holding AA/Comp Coupe records, often winning class and taking several national event eliminator wins.

Although Logghe is best known for their Dragsters and  Funny Cars, they were also  successful building chassis for other classes. Altereds, Gassers, Pro Stock and even a Sports Car



























Easily the fastest, quickest, and most famous of all Logghe Altereds was the “Winged Express.” Though Willie
Borsch had gained a reputation for fearless driving in his homebuilt “Awful/Awful,” that legendary car expired when he crashed it in Michigan in 1970. Willie contacted Logghe and “Winged Express II” was born. His new ride had the familiar (but much smaller) wing atop a modern three-point rollcage and was notably more stable from start to finish line, recording a best of 6.96 at 213 mph. The adaptation of Logghe’s chassis technology to roadster or coupe-clad Altereds led to quicker elapsed times, greater top-end speeds, and safer high-speed handling.





























The  altered wheelbase A/FX cars had everyone talking. Fans, spectators, and track operators were wanting  heads-up matches between GM, Ford, and Chrysler, and established teams were touring the country running as often as five times per week. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” was gospel. By 1965, the Ramchargers’ altered-wheelbase Dodge was was giving the match-race Mustangs and Comets in A/FX,  a hard road.Setting Up
an informal meeting between Fran Hernandez, a Ford employee and veteran Southern California hot rodder, wo raced at the first drag race in Goleta, CA and Al Turner, a young Detroit drag racer and L-M employee. Turner and Hernandez scribbled out an idea that would change drag racing forever. Their drawings depicted a chassis that was purpose-built and carrying a body that closely resembled cars in the parking lot. Instead of steel, it would be fiberglass. The center-seated driver would sit just ahead of the rear axle and enter and exit under the car’s hinged, one-piece body. There would be no doors or windows, save for a Plexiglas windscreen. The headlights, grille, and all trim would be airbrushed onto the body. Using an injected 427 SOHC, nitromethane fuel, and a T&C Top-Loader four-speed, they conservatively estimated mid-8-second elapsed times and trap speeds beyond 160 mph.

From the start, the project had a take-no-prisoners approach that would please race fans, drivers, track owners, and the Mercury dealer network. Hernandez knew how to get projects approved inside the corporate world, and Turner had the fire of youth and knew how to “get it done—now.” Both possessed the creative mindset and tenacity peculiar to real hot rodders. They set a target date for early 1966. In the meantime, premier factory driver Don Nicholson and his altered-wheelbase 1965 Comet were getting lumped up—and he wanted some payback.

Turner and Hernandez considere their options: Holman & Moody and a west coast builder were among the ones considered. In the end, experience told them it would be best to keep the project close to home. Turner suggested Logghe, whom he knew would keep details away from Ford and Chrysler. Logghe was confident they could deliver the first example by late 1965 or early in January 1966. Nicholson’s Comet was ready and made several successful runs in Palm Beach, but more work was needed.


Mercury's plans called for a manual transmission, but the lightweight Comet and its adjustable suspension proved violent during upshifts, as each gear change loaded and unloaded the chassis excessively. To solve the problem a modified C-6 with a manual-shift valvebody replaced the stick shift. Nicholson liked the handling improvement, but was disappointed with the stock shifter. Logghe came up with a ratchet-type design that was simple and foolproof, even in an 8-second funny car.
When Nicholson’s “Eliminator I” pulled to the line at the 1966 AHRA Winternationals, it surprised all with its radically different appearance. The excitement came not just from the car’s amazing, near-170-mph performance but when it spectacularly launched its body in the lights. Ford’s fabled designer Larry Shinoda, also a lifelong hot rodder, was intrigued by the problem. Shinoda discovered that the body latch had failed due to extreme undercar lift, and he came up with a simple, unobtrusive air dam that canceled the disturbance and solved the problem.

Turner, Hernandez, and the Logghes celebrated when Nicholson literally throttled the F/C field a couple weeks later at the 1966 NHRA Winternationals. The Comets dominated in 1966 and 1967. Eddie Schartman, a brash former street racer and Gasser-runner from Cleveland, got the second Comet and Jack Chrisman took the third car. They were followed by Denver-based Kenz & Leslie with a supercharged SOHC 427 Comet. John Petrie, a Canadian Super Stock racer, got one of the 1966 Comets to arouse the faithful in The Great White North.

The Comets used a narrowed Ford 9-inch axle supported by adjustable coilover shock absorbers that planted the tires for maximum traction, then settled down for the 170-mph high-gear charge. The axle-locating links served as traction-adjusting control arms. Forged axleshafts and Detroit Locker differentials delivered torque to the 4.44:1 ring-and-pinion, taking advantage of the SOHC engine’s huge intake and exhaust ports and its prodigious hunger for high rpm. The front suspension also carried adjustable coilovers and the geometry that allowed for a controlled rise.
The chassis was fashioned from 4130 chromemoly for the basic triangulated design. To maximize front/rear weight distribution, the engine was mounted just forward of amidships. The driver sat in the middle of the car on an aluminum seat located within a protective, cross-braced, four-point rollcage. With the body down, it appeared as if the driver was in the back seat.
Al Bergler wrapped in the interior with hand-formed aluminum. The engine compartment was enclosed, and the firewall and built-in “scoop” routed fresh air to the induction system. The headers exited at a swept-back angle, but didn’t extend beyond the edge of the body. The exhaust was amplified by the aluminum to produce a crisp, ringing engine note the fans love

Regardless of the engine or body, the heart of any Funny Car from 1966 forward was either Logghe-built or so inspired and copied. Not only desirable, Logghe’s Competition Products Division gems were also affordable. A structure could be purchased as a roller, ready for body, aluminum, and powertrain for less than $2,500. A dragster chassis with bellhousing could be bought for less than $2,000.
Once the first orders for Mercury were delivered, Logghe was free to build and sell cars to anyone else. Very quickly, all makes of engines—and sometimes unique bodies—cloaked its basic rails. To wit: Bill Taylor’s Memphis-based “Super-Cuda” ran a 1968 body with 426 Hemi power. A Torino shell covered Larry Coleman’s chassis, the first with SOHC Ford power and, later, a 429 Boss. Arnie Beswick’s Pontiac bodies carried Poncho power. Texas terrors Don and Roy Gay ran Pontiacs and later switched to 426 Hemi power.
As for components, Ed Donovan’s 417 featured a lightweight, repairable aluminum block and cylinder heads that appeared in 1971. By the early 1970s, aftermarket aluminum blocks and heads were offered for the 426 from Keith Black and Milodon. On the other side of fence, the SOHC 427 and 429 Boss Hemi Fords eventually ran short of precious parts, and the Chevy big-blocks proved structurally unable to survive all-out nitro racing, leaving the pushrod, two-valve 426 Hemi, which is now rules-mandated by myopic sanctioning bodies.
Frisky Colts for Pro Stock
When it was introduced in 1970, Pro Stock became an instant favorite. Logghe’s chassis design and manufacturing prowess led them to create a Dodge Colt interloper. Chrysler acquired several body-in-white coupes and a few station wagons for selected factory teams. Sox & Martin contracted Logghe to build a Colt, with funding from Chrysler. S&M also had a second Colt built by Don Hardy.
By the mid-1970s, the sanctioning bodies tried applying different minimum weight handicaps, resulting in some bizarre combinations. Since the Hemi had become dominant, it was rewarded with a series of weight increases, which prompted Chrysler to build several Colts and Arrows that could run as NHRA B/Altereds in Comp Eliminator, match raced, or run with a de-stroked 426 Hemi or LA-series engine. The S&M Logghe Colt was like all the others in that it was aerodynamically unstable and became a short-lived effort when factory funding ceased. It was sold to Milwaukee racer LeRoy Roeder for a reputed $39,000.

The Logghe Stamping Company Competition Products Division was shuttered in 1975. Ironically, John Logghe says the last race car was an advanced-design midget with a monocoque chassis powered by a mid-engine Pontiac Iron Duke. It was built for Jim Woffield of Pontiac, Michigan.
Logghe Stamping Company continued production of stamped-steel components until 2013 when operations ceased and the company was liquidated. Ron Logghe is 79 years old and retired in Florida. Brother Gene Logghe is 81 and retired in both Michigan and Florida.
Logghe Stamping Company’s Competition Products Division enjoyed being Funny Car Chassis Builder of the Year many times. In 2006, the NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion chose Ron and Gene as Honorees for the annual event held at Kentucky’s Beech Bend Raceway. The Logghe Brothers’ home state of Michigan chose them in 2010 as members of the prestigious Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Although Logghe Stamping Company and its race-car building Competition Products Division are no more, the name remains active with Gene’s son, John. He’s the proud owner of a top-shelf, front-engine dragster that often appears at nostalgia events and was once driven by Chuck Kurzawa. It’s fitting that the LSC logo remains on the sides.
 
The Ford Super Mustang
A year before the appearance of the life-changing Comets, Ford contracted Logghe to create a futuristic concept-race car they called Super Mustang. The streamlined body, reportedly a Larry Shinoda design, was actually a dragster/Funny Car hybrid.

The car had a tube chassis like that of a slingshot dragster, but the wheelbase measured just 150 inches with a dragster-style front suspension and spindle-mount cycle wheels. The driver sat semi-recumbent. The rear axle was drastically narrowed and situated the tires well inside the body envelope. Coilover shocks and adjustable links were employed and were similar to those on the Comet that was taking shape simultaneously.
Initial testing was done with a naturally aspirated SOHC engine running on nitro, but without the body, which was still being finished. Driver Connie Kalitta’s first full pass nearly proved to be his last. Paving crews were still at work on the unopened track. On the run, a large roller backed onto the track, its operator unaware that the dragstrip was live. It took all of Kalitta’s skill to keep the car upright, and he immediately hopped out to “have a word” with the driver. Fortunately, the Ford crew intercepted the “Bounty Hunter” before he could put a hand on the unsuspecting roller operator.

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