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Editor's note: This is part of a series at KSL.com featuring some of Utah's coolest cars. If you own a customized vehicle — from sports cars to semitrucks — email firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo of the vehicle and a brief description for consideration.ALPINE — It was the first car Ted Cox had ever bought new. It gave its best years in modest family service, and now, it has a new, more glamorous high-speed life in Utah.
Cox grew up in the southern California hot-rod scene, turning old cars into old, faster cars. He graduated from high school in 1957 and kept on building vehicles.
In 1991, the now-family man ordered a Dodge Stealth from the factory because he wanted it a certain way. Cox used the vehicle to commute to work on the freeways of California, but when his first son left for BYU in 2002, Cox let him take the Stealth.
More of his children went off to BYU, and the car was passed down. Finally, the last of his BYU kids returned the car to their dad in 2008. He thought about selling it, but the used-car market thought less of it than he did, so he decided to give it a new life.
That new life would be a 200-plus mph Bonneville Salt Flats racer, appropriate since Cox had then moved to Utah. He had a special chassis, transmission and 860-horsepower 434 cubic-inch Chevrolet engine built for it. He said the only thing Stealth part about the vehicle now is the body, which sits much lower than stock.
Cox had it tested in an Ogden wind tunnel so it would go straight at triple-digit speeds, and he also put in fire suppression and parachute systems in case it doesn’t. He said he bought the parachute from the same guy who designed the ones for space shuttles. Cox figures he has invested more than $75,000 into the vehicle, not counting the original purchase cost.
Cox hit the Salt Flats with his rebuilt Dodge during the September 2018 World of Speed event. He said he went 198.045 mph on the short course, topping out in second gear. He then tried a run on the long course so he could shift into third or fourth gear. He was just getting into "hey-that's-fast" territory when a tire blew out. He said he pulled his parachute and stopped OK, but he didn’t have a spare, so he packed up and went home.
His goal for 2019 is a record-breaking 254 mph.
When the '91 Dodge isn’t pushing 200 mph, it’s at a full stop. Because it's not street legal, it gets worked on all winter long, only coming out of the garage for photo shoots with fans in the neighborhood. Cox said the engine noise is “earth-shatteringly loud,” even among salt racers.
So what does a hot-rodder drive when his main project is designed to only be driven on the Salt Flats? A 1934 Ford Coupe.
The three-window Coupe is chopped and channeled with a 1958-yet-updated Corvette engine under the hood. Cox keeps it running and street legal. Both cars have local followings, but only the Ford can give the followers a ride.
Brian Champagne has reported on cars for more than nine years. He holds a master's degree in communications from the University of the Pacific and teaches at Utah State University. Contact him at email@example.com.