Diamond Don Talks Sleeper Cars – Disguised Muscle on the Streets

My cousin was big into modelling. One day, while looking at his model collection of military aircraft and ships, he showed me a picture and description of the next model he wanted to buy and build. “It’s a Q ship- very cool,” he told me. Hmm; this was a ship that I had never heard of before, and remembering it now inspires me to tell you about my favorite sleeper cars from the muscle era.

Diamond Don Talks Sleeper Cars – Disguised Muscle on the Streets

He went on to describe this very specialized ship: it’s a decoy, a ship meant to look like an ordinary and unarmed shipping vessel. But in reality, this was a ship built with a purpose. During the war, German U-boats would often surface to attack these unarmed merchant ships. The U-boat would sit back and use its deck gun to shell the unarmed ship with impunity, kind of the way that modern day Somali pirates take advantage when attacking unarmed tourist ships. The Q ship disguise cloaked guns, torpedoes, and reinforced armor. Should a U-boat surface to attack a Q ship, they would surely find themselves in for a battle!

So what about muscle cars? Some car guys liked to run unassuming – some might even say disguised – muscle sleeper cars on the street. Unless you checked closely, that plain looking sedan might be the street equivalent of a Q ship! Pay attention – or you’re going to get smoked.

Just to make sure I don’t get a reputation as a Chevy bigot (which I am), I have picked favourite Q ship example sleeper cars from each of the big three American manufacturers. As you might expect, a lot of the plain Jane stripped down cars were ordered for drag racing, and not a lot of them survived. Today these cars are highly prized by collectors and command high market prices.
Here we go. Do these cars look fast to you at first glance?

1966 Chevy Sedan Muscle Sleeper Cars1966 Chevy II Sedan

Looks like an elderly couple may be headed to church in this Chevy. Wrong! This example has
the L79 327 engine, basically the same small block engine as found in a Corvette.

1966 Chevy Sedan Muscle Sleeper Cars

1966 Chevy Sedan Muscle Sleeper Cars
I love the clean lines of the Chevy II. Small size and weight with a high performance engine.
1966 Chevy Sedan Muscle Sleeper Cars
Here’s where the high performance engine option is hiding.
1966 Chevy Sedan Muscle Sleeper Cars
Interior looks a bit like a taxi cab.

1969 Ford Fairlane Muscle Sleeper Cars1969 Ford Fairlane

1969 Ford Fairlane Muscle Sleeper Cars
Nice hubcaps…
1969 Ford Fairlane Muscle Sleeper Cars
Here’s the engine payload. The infamous 428 Cobra Jet.
1969 Ford Fairlane Muscle Sleeper Cars
Sometimes the Q ship muscle cars didn’t even include a radio option.
1969 Ford Fairlane Muscle Sleeper Cars
Just very subtle hints of the cars go fast abilities.

1966 Plymouth Belvedere I Muscle Sleeper Cars1966 Plymouth Belvedere I

1966 Plymouth Belvedere I Muscle Sleeper Cars
Outwardly, it doesn’t look like much.
1966 Plymouth Belvedere I Muscle Sleeper Cars
Surprise! Shouldn’t have messed with me on the street!
1966 Plymouth Belvedere I Muscle Sleeper Cars
It’s a base model Plymouth with boring bench seats. Someone had a plan in mind when they spent their money on the Hemi engine. Plymouth purists will tell you that this model could not be dealer ordered with a Hemi – but documented examples have now shown up.
1966 Plymouth Belvedere I Muscle Sleeper Cars
Small badge, big engine!

Be careful out there.
See ya next time – Diamond Don

Chevy II pics © [superchevy.com]
Ford Fairlane pics © [amosauto.com]
Plymouth Belvedere pics © [moparmusclemagazine.com]

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Diamond Don

I have recently retired following a long career in the data processing industry and Unfinished Man has given me an opportunity to post entries about an ongoing interest of mine: sixties and seventies muscle cars. I still have the second muscle car I owned as a post-secondary student, and now, after collecting parts for many years, look forward to starting a restoration. Other hobbies include golfing, fishing, and following local professional hockey and football teams.

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