Alan Peck photo
(This article was first published in the December 1971 edition of Custom Car magazine)
You've seen some of the world's top show cars and thrilled to the sight of the best get-up-and-go cars, Santa Pod's pits positively drip with mouthwatering diggers and fender flappers, but there's not four wheels anywhere in the land that add up to any sort of match for 'Flying' Freddy Whittle's ultra-sharp Shutdown fuel altered. Just the coolest car around.
Take any part of the car, from the engine mounts to the parachute release, from stub axles to radius rods - the whole deal's got more sparkle than the crown jewels. And owner/driver Freddy Whittle - a caravan repair man - has got the timing tickets to back it all up, like a best ET of 9.35 seconds and a top terminal of 158.73mph. It's what you call winning in style. The quickest competition altered in Europe, discounting Fibreglass Repairs' Capri funny car.
Shutdown packs a king-size blown and injected 392-cube Chrysler Firepower hemi, originating from a '58 sedan and now blueprinted to something near 1400 horsepower. Freddy, who refuses to divulge the building cost and says the Bank of England can't raise that sort of bread anyway, selected only the best of American hardware when putting together the motor. An Isky 595 cam, Mickey Thompson alloy rods and buttoned pistons, Perfect Circle rings, a Reath Automotive crank and Edelbrock inlet manifold. Shutdown's fuel system relies on a Hilborn bug-catcher unit with port injection, squirting a methanol/nitro mix huffed by a modified 6/71 blower.
Joe Hunt provided the Vertex magneto, lighting a bunch of Champion N54 racing plugs. For lube Freddy sticks with Valvoline plus a shot of Wynn's racing formula sticky stuff.
Schiefer were contacted to supply the flywheel and dual-drive clutch assembly, which features an integral double scattershield, while the propshaft providing direct drive to the rear end came from an Austin Champ utility. The rear axle unit itself is a '54 Pontiac part, narrowed to 48in and fitted with 4.11 gears. Slicks wrapped around the American mags are varied according to conditions; alternating between M&H 11.90 Racemasters and Goodyear 11-inchers.
Up front Shutdown sports a glittering Allan Herridge tube axle, impeccably chromed and hung with 12-spoke American altered mags on Ford E93A spindles. Front suspension incorporates BSA motorcycle springs and Armstrong snubbers, with steering in the hands of a Standard 10 box that Freddy actuates every now and again via a 10in Magna wheel.
Backing up the machine's H&H disc rear brakes is an Irvin drag chute.
Design and construction of the entirely-chromed tube frame - probably the lightest and certainly the neatest on the strip was down to Freddy hisself. It measures out at just 8ft and supports what must be the most incredible creation in aluminium ever attempted. It's a perfect replica of a 1932 Austin Bantam (Editor Hill still asserts there's no such car) and yet another example of Freddy's painstaking attention to detail - beat out with his own fair hands.
Topped off with a red flake job and some nifty signwriting that includes a credit for part sponsor Dick Lawrence (he only advertises in the best places you know). Shutdown glistens like a polish company's commercial. Interior fittings take in a Sprinzel bucket seat, complemented by an Eccles Car Hood trim job and matt black panels.
Both Freddy and his wife are hardcore drag racing fanatics. Who else do you know would strip all the furniture and carpets out of their front room, install lathes and Gawd knows what else, build a machine from the wheels up and then knock down and re-build a wall just to get their baby out? It's true, we swear it! There may be oil in Freddy's front room but you won't ever see any dust on the car.