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A 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Named Mongoose Uses Hemi Power to Catch Cobras

From the Archives: Cobra Eater

Drew Hardin Jun 15, 2018
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All apologies to you restorers and split-window collectors out there, but this kind of thing happened with Vettes in the 1960s.

Well, maybe not often. Not to this extent, anyway. Floridian Pete Arend must have spent a considerable amount of money to turn this ’63 coupe into the Cobra-hunting Mongoose that he drag raced and entered in car shows on both sides of the country.

001 Arend Mongoose 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Front Three Quarter 2/10
002 Arend Mongoose 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Racing 3/10

The car was initially built with a fuel-injected big-block Chevy engine, but Arend stepped up to a Hilborn-injected Dodge Hemi built by Ollie Olsen of West Palm Beach, Florida. The elephant was mated to a Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic transmission, with a solid torque tube joining the trans to a Halibrand quick-change built into the independent rear suspension. Dual Jaguar XKE coilovers suspended the 9.00-15 M&H slicks, which were slowed by Girling inboard disc brakes. Up front was a gasser-style CAE tube front axle hung with custom springs and mounting Ford spindles.

Credit for the rear-tire clearance, extra set of taillights and other bodywork went to Zapetis Metalcraft in Palm Beach, Florida. (Nick Zapetis also bent the Hemi’s custom exhaust pipes.) Herb Gary’s Autobody in Seacliff, New York, sprayed the silver metalflake paint and black fogged accents.

003 Arend Mongoose 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Engine 4/10
004 Arend Mongoose 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Exhaust Detail 5/10

While the Vette’s exterior was all business, the interior reflected its show-car side. Porsche Speedster bucket seats were reupholstered in a tufted vinyl, and a custom, chrome-plated center gauge panel held monitors for engine, transmission and rearend temperatures.

Petersen photographers Pat Brollier and Bud Lang shot the car as it sat in the pits at the 1965 NHRA Winternationals. Those photos, plus a cutaway illustration by Steve Swaja, made up a four-page feature in the June 1965 Car Craft. No e.t.’s or trap speeds were listed for the car, likely because “trouble with the transmission hampered (the) car’s performance,” read a caption. “But Pete expects to hit 10.5 e.t. before long.” Online research indicates the car did just that and was a successful racer on the East Coast, once those transmission issues were sorted out.

005 Arend Mongoose 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rear Suspension Detail 6/10
006 Arend Mongoose 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rear Tire Detail 7/10

Photography by Pat Brollier, Bud Lang, Petersen Publishing Co. Archive

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