Petersen Archive: The 1955 Weaks-Noble Drag Sedan
Four hundred horsepower. 96% Nitro to 4% Benzol. Seven shattered clutches a year. “Anyone witnessing the Weaks-Noble deuce coming off the line for the first time wouldn’t give a plugged nickel for the sedan’s chances of making it to the other end of the drag strip,” as Bob Greene noted in the June 1956 issue of Hot Rod Magazine.
In 1956, Carl Weaks’s and Jim Noble’s creation, however, was the “nation’s fastest drag sedan.”
It was not, however, the most innovative. Indeed, the chassis was from a 1932 Ford Tudor that had been simply chopped and channeled. Two 1940 Ford hoods comprised the sedan’s “drop snoot effect.” A maroon paint job with white flames gave the car the hot rod look. Yet, apart from adjustments to the chassis to fit the engine, Weaks and Noble made few other alterations. “Even the suspension was quite orthodox,” apart from adjustments to the spring tension and accomodations for the dropped front axle. The sedan’s chassis, Greene observed was “strickly functional in design and appearance.” Its “chassis innovations,” had little to do with its speed.
That was left to the engine, conspicuously missing in this photograph. Indeed, to power the car Weaks and Noble employed a stock 1953 DeSoto engine. George Austin modified the heads “for better breathing.” Hilborn fuel injectors, Herbert camshafts, a Scintilla magneto, and Lodge platinum tip spark plugs gave the engine enough power to blast it straight into the stratosphere. To give the coupe extra kick, Weaks and Noble used a fuel with a ratio of 96% nitromethane to 4% benzol. This gave the car around 400 horsepower and a best speed of 129.98 miles per hour.
The gas tank was located to the right of the driver’s seat. A 1939 Ford gearbox held the sedan’s “wild herd of horses” steady.
It, however, did little for the sedan’s clutch. At 7,400 rpm at peak acceleration, the engine blew out “seven clutches within one year,” as Greene noted. Here, Carl Weaks and Jim Noble display one of such clutches.
Thus, though at times its performance was doubtful, when the Weaks-Noble drag sedan accelerated off the line, it went, as Greene exclaimed in the title of his article, like “a house afire!”
By Kristin Feay