Fabled stories exist of amazing muscle cars saved from a junkyard crusher to become awesome examples of racing machinery. These stories are fewer and further between than they used to be, but we unearthed the story of Mike Krauchick, who first spotted this 1962 Dodge Polara 500 back in 1971.
Driving down a side street in his hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania, he saw this derelict Dodge perched on three flat tires. Krauchick remembers inquiring about the car, “I was pretty excited back then that it had a high-performance 361-inch engine and the push-button shifter that I always loved. The owner of the muscle car came out and told me he had called the local junkyard,” Krauchick continued. “But if I wanted it, 75-bucks and it was mine.” With that, he replaced the flats, added a battery, and actually drove the car home.
Modifications to the new racecar began with the addition of new racing shocks, and he was off to the dragstrip. “I raced the Polara with the 361 engine until it got way too tired,” Krauchick says. “Then I started moving up with a 413 and ultimately a 426 Max Wedge engine.”
By now, Krauchick’s performance and custom paint business, Michael K’s Performance & Paint, was underway, and the Polara was becoming a business card of sorts for his shop. Generations of chassis modifications and custom paint were once topped off by a carbureted and supercharged 440 engine.
Ultimately, the Dodge has transformed into what you see here today. The chassis is reconstructed with S&W Race Cars framerails and a roll cage kit that was custom installed by Mike and his son, Mike, Jr. The cage is meticulously painted in the same House of Color Candy Apple Red that mainly covers the body shell.
The body is original steel except for the fiberglass hood. Whether at the local car show or the dragstrip, onlookers are affixed on the supercharged and injected Hemi that now protrudes from that hood line.
“The 426 cubic-inch Hemi block is a Ray Barton Engines Super Stock piece that we assembled with a Barton forged crankshaft, rods, and piston assembly,” says Krauchick. “We found a set of 1970’s Funny Car vintage aluminum heads that work great with Mopar Performance Stage V cylinder head components. The rest of the engine consists of a Lunati roller cam, Pete Jackson gear drive, and a Milodon 14-quart, dual pickup pan mating to a dry-sump oiling system. I have always used Gary Dyer’s blowers on it. I once used carburetors, but we now have an Enderle Fuel Injection hat and injection system on it.”
Being self-fabricated, they have always tinkered and tweaked to get every detail exactly the way they want it on this car. Mike and Mike Jr. frequent many tracks in their area, including Numidia Dragway, Beaver Springs, Atco Dragway, and what they consider their home track, Maple Grove Raceway.
“My best 1/4-mile performance has been in the 8.80 e.t. range and 162 MPH,” claims Krauchick. “That was without the Holley Performance/NOS 250-horsepower cheater system on it now.”
On top of excursions to the ‘strip, Krauchick enjoys taking advantage of the current license plates and street-legal slicks to cruise around Allentown and frequent the local car shows.
Krauchick finishes, “I have 4 ½-inch exhaust on it, so I try not to get too loud with it. There was one time I was stopped at a light, and there were six police officers that happened to be standing there. I thought to myself, ‘oh boy, this is not good.’ The police officers smiled, lined up, and all saluted. That was the coolest.”