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The 1954 Zeder, The HEMI-Powered Corvette Killer

In 1953, Chevrolet introduced the world to the Corvette, a lightweight sports car with European influences and (eventually) American V8 muscle. Ford responded in 1955 with the Thunderbird while Chrysler…well, Chrysler almost debuted a similar competitor. Alas, the Chrysler Corvette fighter never came to market, a missed opportunity that haunts the Pentastar to this day. 

Hemmings Auto Blog posted this old article about the Frank Zeder Jr.-designed Storm Z-250, a car that could have easily challenged both the Corvette and the Thunderbird thanks to its 260 horsepower HEMI V8 engine.

The Storm Z-250 was designed to be a competition sports car with road racing in mind. To keep weight down the body was built out of aluminum at a cost of over $6,500 (back in the 1950s!) in about 90 days. The 260 horsepower HEMI engine was borrowed from a ‘54 Dodge pickup and produced about 330 ft-lbs of torque. In the Z-250, this engine helped propel the car from 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds, and the quarter mile took just 14.7 seconds.

Sounds incredibly promising, right? So why didn’t Chrysler build the Storm Z-250? Internal politics and sibling rivalry, as it turns out. Frank Zeder Jr. turned the Z-250 over to his brother, Jim Zeder for evaluation. Alas, the promised road test never happened, and the Z-250 sat untouched for years, becoming a mere concept, and nothing more.

It was thankfully restored, and now rests in quiet retirement at the Petersen Auto Museum. Ahhh to wonder what might have been…



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