POW­ER­FUL POLARIZER

LOVE IT OR HATE IT, THIS ’BAGGED CHARGER SRT RUNS 9s.

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BY WES DUENKEL PHOTOGRAPHY BY THE AU­THOR

Love it or hate it, this ’bagged Charger SRT runs 9s.

Todd Full­ford’s Mopar rap sheet doesn’t in­clude the usual sus­pects. Rather than a photo al­bum pep­pered with vin­tage A-, B-, or E-body mus­cle, Full­ford’s Mopar al­pha­bet started with K … as in Lee Ia­cocca’s au­to­mo­tive brain­child from the ’80s.

The ven­er­a­ble front-drive plat­form pulled the au­tomaker out of the mud — both lit­er­ally and fi­nan­cially. Not only did the K chas­sis serve as the ba­sis for the trend­set­ting Dodge Car­a­van, the ver­sa­tile plat­form un­der­pinned pop­u­lar com­pact cars, such as the Dodge Omni, Charger, and Chrysler Le­baron. The very men­tion of th­ese cars among gear­heads is ei­ther met with af­fec­tion or dis­dain. Yes, many of the K-car de­riv­a­tives were snooz­ers in the per­for­mance depart­ment. Chrysler rec­og­nized that if they wanted to at­tract young buy­ers, they’d need to bol­ster their per­for­mance im­age. Adding tur­bocharg­ers and forg­ing a part­ner­ship with Car­roll Shelby caught the at­ten­tion of en­thu­si­asts with boosted vari­ants of the econobox Mopars of the era. Just about ev­ery vari­ant of the K-car plat­form was avail­able with a 2.2L tur­bocharged four-cylin­der en­gine, in­clud­ing the mini­vans! Car­roll Shelby’s out­fit tweaked some of the mod­els, which were sold un­der the “Dodge Shelby” ban­ner. They fea­tured more power, unique sus­pen­sions, fat­ter rub­ber, plas­tic body aug­men­ta­tions, and — most im­por­tantly — snazzy de­cals.

The idea res­onated with buy­ers of Full­ford’s gen­er­a­tion. “A friend of mine in high school was into the turbo four-cylin­der Charg­ers and Om­nis,” Full­ford rem­i­nisces. When it came time to buy his first per­for­mance car, the Mopar seed had taken root, and Full­ford drove out of the lo­cal Dodge deal­er­ship … with a Stealth R/T twin-turbo. The car was the love child of a re­la­tion­ship be­tween Dodge and Mit­subishi. “The car was way ahead of its time — all-wheel drive, four-wheel steer­ing, elec­tronic sus­pen­sion, and twin tur­bos.” The high-tech na­ture of the car res­onated with Full­ford, who en­joyed the pow­er­ful boosted en­gine, so­phis­ti­cated sus­pen­sion, and ag­gres­sive styling. Sure, the Viper was also re­cently re­leased, but that was a bit out of Full­ford’s league.

Though hooked on high-tech Mopars, a foray into the mu­sic in­dus­try af­ter col­lege side­lined his Mopar habit for a few years. Af­ter Full­ford’s time as a mildly suc­cess­ful gui­tarist took its course, Daim­ler­chrysler re­vived a leg­endary name. “When Dodge came back out in 2006 with the new Hemi cars, it rekin­dled my in­ter­est in Mopars,” Full­ford re­calls. “Be­tween the Mus­tang, the new Ca­maro, and the new Chal­lenger, it was like the ‘mus­cle wars’ all over again. The styling of the Chal­lenger was per­fect. It looked like an artist’s ren­der­ing of a fu­tur­is­tic Chal­lenger from the early 1970s.”

Full­ford pro­gressed through sev­eral SRT vari­ants: a cou­ple Chal­lengers, a Charger,

and a 300. “I spent a lot of time mod­ding them, break­ing them, and oc­ca­sion­ally blow­ing them up.” A Vortech su­per­charger even made its way onto one of the Chal­lengers. The lat­est sub­ject of Full­ford’s at­ten­tion is the ’16 Charger SRT Hellcat on th­ese pages.

“Our nick­name for the car is ‘The Ru­ined Hellcat.’” It’s a ref­er­ence to the po­lar­iz­ing na­ture of the mod­i­fi­ca­tions — specif­i­cally, the airbagged sus­pen­sion. “We’d show up at the lo­cal Cars and Cof­fee, and the re­sponse to a ’bagged Hellcat was po­lar­iz­ing. Some peo­ple loved it, oth­ers hated it.”

But all the trash talk stops when this Hellcat trips the quar­ter-mile tim­ing lights in the 9s. Full­ford ex­plains, “We’ve been try­ing to get the car in the 9s for quite a while. The mile-per-hour was there, but the track prep wasn’t in our fa­vor.” That all changed when Full­ford and his wife, Laura, went to Ce­cil County Drag­way in Mary­land. “We re­ally wanted to get the car into the 9s, so we pulled out all the stops. I spent an hour re­mov­ing the seats, door pan­els, and trunk car­pet.”

Af­ter a sev­eral runs in the low 10s, the 9-sec­ond zone eluded the cou­ple. Non­cha­lantly, Todd tossed the keys to his wife for a fi­nal run be­fore head­ing home. With only a cou­ple dragstrip runs un­der her belt, Laura was a novice. The Charger hooked hard and logged a 9.83 at 138! Clearly, Laura isn’t only a quick learner, but also a quick driver. The mile­stone earned the cou­ple their best time — and an in­vi­ta­tion to leave the track. Fu­ture 9-sec­ond passes re­quire a cage! “It ran fast enough that I’m not sure tak­ing the stuff out of the in­te­rior mat­tered all that much,” Full­ford rea­sons. “The car prob­a­bly weighs 4,600 pounds, so saving a hun­dred pounds or so is triv­ial.”

The mod­i­fi­ca­tions for 9-sec­ond mo­ti­va­tion are sur­pris­ingly straight­for­ward. “It’s my daily driver, so I can’t have the car in

pieces to make it faster,” Full­ford rea­sons. The stock Hellcat blower is spun faster by a 2.5-inch up­per blower pul­ley, and fed cooler air by a Bwoody cold air in­take and larger in­ter­cooler heat ex­changer.

The se­cret sauce is a tank full of E85 fuel. Full­ford in­stalled a set of 1,000cc in­jec­tors and a Kenne Bell Boost-a-pump to keep the su­per­charged 6.2L well fed. Full­ford and his buddy, Josh Phillips, use an “un­locked” PCM and HP Tuner Pro soft­ware to tame the 18 psi of boost and alky mix­ture. “The E85 al­lows us to run more tim­ing and boost while keep­ing the com­bus­tion cooler. It’s a great “daily driver race fuel.’”

Ex­haust mod­i­fi­ca­tions are sim­i­larly sim­ple: a pair of JBA cat­less mid­pipes and a Mag­naflow cat-back are em­ployed for track duty, though a stock cat-back is uti­lized on the street. “I like it a lit­tle qui­eter on my way to work,” Full­ford ex­plains as a re­minder of this car’s daily driven duty.

Cop­ing with the 1,000hp mill’s torque is an alu­minum drive­shaft from The Drive­shaft Shop, Per4­mance De­vel­op­ment dif­fer­en­tial brace, and a 3.09 fi­nal drive gearset.

Full­ford fit­ted the Hellcat with an Air Lift Per­for­mance sus­pen­sion kit fea­tur­ing 30-way dampers and dual Vi­air 480 com­pres­sors. “Air sus­pen­sion and drag cars usu­ally don’t go to­gether,” Full­ford ad­mits, “but our car is one of the fastest Charg­ers with air sus­pen­sion.” Af­ter all, when a daily driver runs 9s, there’s not much more to say.

Fer­rada Forged FR8 wheels are at each cor­ner, mea­sur­ing 20x10 up front and 20x11.5 in the rear. Tires are Nitto Invo, sized 275/35 and 315/25 re­spec­tively. Trac­tion at the dragstrip is pro­vided by Mickey Thomp­son ET Streets on Bravado 18-inch rear wheels.

Ci­pher Auto har­nesses and seats keep the Full­fords com­fort­able and safe. “If I were to do it again, I’d avoid white seats. They’re al­most dirty be­fore you sit in them,” Full­ford jokes.

The blue US Speedo gauges are a taste­ful ad­di­tion. Full­ford re­calls, “I had them for a while, but was hes­i­tant to in­stall them. How­ever, once they were in, I’m re­ally happy with how they look.”

Be­sides the stance, other at­ten­tion­grab­bing ex­te­rior bits in­clude brushed alu­minum Hellcat badges and the satin sil­ver me­tal­lic stripes. An LED light­ing up­grade gives the il­lu­mi­na­tion a cus­tom flair.

Sourc­ing the car­bon-fiber bits was slightly more com­plex than plac­ing a parts house or­der. Full­ford ex­plains, “When I first got the Charger, no­body made any car­bon-fiber parts for them. I found a guy on In­sta­gram who made cus­tom car­bon parts, but there was a problem. He lived in the United Arab Emi­rates!”

Full­ford’s new con­tact found a Charger in the UAE and made molds. Even com­pen­sat­ing the maker was a chal­lenge. “Send­ing money to the UAE wasn’t easy, so I had to pay him in in­cre­ments. It was def­i­nitely a chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion.” But, the re­sults were worth it. The unique car­bon-fiber rear spoiler, dif­fuser, side split­ters, front lip, bumper in­sert, and mir­ror cov­ers for this Amer­i­can car are all crafted by a fel­low en­thu­si­ast on the other side of the planet.

This Chal­lenger is a la­bor of friend­ship, and the Full­fords are quick to credit their friends Josh Phillips, Mike Netsche, and Les­lie Ray for their help and guid­ance on this project.

In a tongue-and-cheek ref­er­ence to their garage-built Charger, Full­ford ap­plied the fic­tional “Jprac­ing1000” de­cals to the rocker panel of the Charger. Full­ford ex­plains, “A lot of the cars we run against are prepped by pro­fes­sion­als, so the ‘Jprac­ing1000’ is a ref­er­ence to Josh Phillips and the 1,000 hp this car makes.”

Todd not only en­joys the pride of build­ing a ridicu­lously fast Charger Hellcat, but also reaps the ben­e­fits on his daily com­mute from his home in Mount Juliet, Ten­nessee, to his work­place in Nashville.

The Full­fords don’t have spe­cific fu­ture plans for the Charger, other than a lit­tle ni­trous if run­ning 9s gets bor­ing. Be­sides, a ’18 Dodge Chal­lenger SRT De­mon will com­pete for the Full­fords’ at­ten­tion be­fore long ...

The fun is a fam­ily af­fair for the Full­fords. This Charger Hellcat does it all.

The car­bon-fiber body ac­cents were cus­tom-made by an en­thu­si­ast in the United Arab Emi­rates. The sil­ver strips co­or­di­nate nicely with the 20-inch Fer­rada Forged wheels and Nitto Invo rub­ber.

The Hellcat’s mod­i­fi­ca­tions to make the nec­es­sary power for 9-sec­ond quar­ter-mile times are sur­pris­ingly sim­ple: a smaller 2.5-inch up­per blower pul­ley and E85 are the ma­jor in­gre­di­ents.

A taste­ful set of blue gauges and con­trast­ing white leather seats make this Hellcat stand out from the crowd and Full­ford’s daily com­mutes com­fort­able.

Todd Full­ford daily drives his ’16 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. Not only does it pack 1,000 hp and ride on air sus­pen­sion, it also runs 9s in the quar­ter-mile.

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