This Mini Dragster is Perfect for Popping Some Wheelies
This charming antique isn’t a funny car, but it is hysterical.
RM Sotheby's is auctioning a 1970 Mickey Thompson mini dragster in Arizona next month. Though offered without reserve, the auction house puts its value at $20,000 to $30,000.
The vehicle was constructed by Thompson, a race car driver and builder who earned a number of automotive speed records. It's one of 180 he produced starting in the late '60s, and is modeled after the slingshot-style rear-engine dragsters prevalent in its day. Unlike those 2,000-horsepower monsters with their 225-inch wheelbases, the mini dragster makes do with a 3-horsepower Tecumseh engine and is small enough to carry in the bed of a pickup.
The mini's top speed is 20 miles per hour—less than a tenth of the real thing—but take heart knowing it's less likely to mangle you in an accident. This style of dragster had the driver sitting at the far back, above and behind the rear wheels like a rock in a taut slingshot. They were popular through the early 1970s, but safer rear-engine dragster designs would soon gain favor. The new dragsters were championed by legendary racer and builder Don "Big Daddy" Garlits, who'd lost much of his right foot in an accident piloting the earlier style.
The mini dragster features a full tubular steel frame and centrifugal clutch. Plus, RM Sotheby's notes that if you lean back while punching the throttle, it'll do a wheelie just like a real quarter-mile racer. "These mini dragsters are rarely seen and even less seldom sold," the auction house notes. "This example represents an opportunity to own arguably the finest extant, and it will surely make an impression at the next swap meet, car show, or in the paddock at the next racing event."