Little engine that could

12-second, 28+ MPG 2.2L Omni streetfreaker built with factory parts. And hold the nitrous please.

Twelve second cars. Yeah, your uncle Herbert's got a 454 Chevy that once ran in the twelves, after he towed it to the track, and bolted on a set of 11-inch slicks. He only had $7,000 in the motor, too. Your buddy down the block had a Buick Grand National that ran in the twelves, but he bought head baskets by the case and kept spare transmissions in his glove compartment. He finally got so many speeding tickets that he had to sell the car to pay for 'em.

Then again, virtually everyone reading this magazine has, or knows someone who has, a Mopar that runs twelves. It's not that hard, really. Consider this, though: when was the last time you say a diminutive little 135 cubic inch econobox 4-door run twelves, get 28-plus MPG, corner at 0.9Gs, and stop on a dime and give you six cents change? Still not impressed? Suppose we told you this car had a stock camshaft, stock compression, and was built using factory parts exclusively? This is virtually the automotive equivalent of having your chocolate cheesecake and eating it, too.

We saw this car run, er, make that Run, with a capital R, at the '86 Mopar Nationals. It runs fast, pulls hard, and generally, does everything a good musclecar does. Except...it does it on pump gas, starts on the first turn of the key, and has ice cold air conditioning to boot! Then, too, as we said, it goes 28+ miles on 4 quarts of gas, and looks like a total stocker! Now, if it seems we're impressed, it's 'cause, oh yeah, we are! The personal toy, er actually daily commuter vehicle of Chrysler Engineer Dave Zelkowski, is Fun, with a capital F.

Dave and his diminutive little L-body have become something of living legends. After cleaning the class clocks at the Computer Car Nationals in '89, the pocket rocket was prominently featured in both Hot Rod and Turbo magazines. Both those publications told us how expeditiously Dave's car gets down that quarter-mile strip of tarmac, but teased us with little more than rudimentary information about the mechanical goodies lurking beneath its little red bonnet. Luckily for us, Dave has generously agreed to share with us all his secrets. Actually, as we mentioned, there are precious few trick parts in Dave's car, just liberal doses of sound engineering and a bountiful bevy of factory parts.

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