Mopar Muscle - - Contents - TEXT AND PHO­TOS: JOHN MACHAQUEIRO

Der­rick Hayes ’06 Dodge Mag­num SRT8 pushes the 1,000hp curve.

Cars shows have al­ways been an in­te­gral part of the car hobby. Some guys build cars just for that pur­pose and are per­fectly con­tent with that as­pect of the hobby. For Der­rick Hayes, as a young Mopar guy grow­ing up, show­ing his car was a pas­sion. At that time, he was just get­ting his feet wet when it came to the whole show scene, and look­ing and sound­ing good was where it was at for him. “My first show car was a

’95 Dodge Avenger,” Der­rick re­calls.

“It looked and sounded good, and

I did the ba­sics — a cold air in­take and a shifter — just the sim­ple stuff.” It’s a safe bet that the Avenger wasn’t go­ing to set the world on fire be­yond nice paint, wheels, and a killer sound sys­tem. Af­ter his share of shows with it, he was ready to take it to the next level.

Tak­ing that next step came in 2004 in the form of the newly minted ’05 Dodge Mag­num R/T wagon. Launched in the spring of 2004, the Mag­num RT sported the all-new 5.7L Hemi V-8. Crank­ing out 340 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, it pushed all of Der­rick’s but­tons in a good way. The idea of a gro­cery get­ter with a Hemi un­der the hood was huge, so he pulled the trig­ger on a new one. It quickly re­ceived his cus­tom touches with big­ger wheels, sound sys­tem, and flashy paint — it was all out of the Avenger hand­book. How­ever, what that Hemi al­lowed him to do was delve into the deeper end of the per­for­mance pool.

It didn’t take long for him to void the war­ranty with the in­stal­la­tion of a su­per­charger. At that point in time, the Hemi was still very new, and en­gine mods like a blower were a hit or miss propo­si­tion, so much so that within less than two months of use he grenaded it. His at­ti­tude on that fail­ure was “it breaks, you just fix it.” The RT gave him a few years of en­joy­ment, and it also let him forge re­la­tion­ships within the after­mar­ket per­for­mance in­dus­try, which led to spon­sor­ship deals.

The love af­fair with the RT came to an abrupt end on the New Jersey Turn­pike when the com­bi­na­tion of a trac­tor trailer cut­ting him off and a rear sus­pen­sion fail­ure sealed its fate. Look­ing back, he bluntly states, “I rolled it, and I sur­vived.” A vi­o­lent ac­ci­dent of that mag­ni­tude would rat­tle most cages and in­still panic on many a brave soul. In Der­rick’s case, he dou­bled down on his out­look. “In­stead of me drift­ing away and get­ting out of the car game to do some­thing else, it just mo­ti­vated me to go big­ger and bet­ter,” he said.

Big­ger and bet­ter meant a new ride. Since the RT had hit that sweet spot with him, in 2007 he pulled the trig­ger on a ’06 Dodge Mag­num SRT8 pow­ered by a 6.1L Hemi rated at 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Decked out in Bril­liant Black Crys­tal Pearl­coat with a Dark/light Slate Gray in­te­rior, it be­came his next can­vas. When he started work­ing on the wagon, some of the things he did on the pre­vi­ous cars car­ried over. New wheels were mounted and a num­ber of visual cues ex­e­cuted that con­tin­u­ously changed the look of the wagon. At one point, he had over five grand in air­brush work on the sides of the car and a lon­gi­tu­di­nal hood stripe with a re­cur­ring color change. Un­der the hood was where the big­gest trans­for­ma­tion took place. His spon­sor­ship deal with High Horse­power Per­for­mance (HHP) in Smyrna, Delaware, opened the doors to the big pony club with the Hemi. His vi­sion for the SRT8 was “to build a mon­ster,” which would again in­volve us­ing forced in­duc­tion. HHP started with one of their prepped

Hemi 6.1L blocks fit­ted with a 6.1-forged crank, Manley forged connecting rods, and 8.8:1 Ross forged pis­tons. The top end wears a set of HHP/BES 6.1L Cnc­ported and pol­ished cylin­der heads, 6.1L in­take man­i­fold, 90mm throt­tle body, and a HHP Stage 4 nitrous stro­ker cus­tom high-lift camshaft specked at .550inch lift and 220/228 du­ra­tion. A Procharger blower along with a ZEX nitrous oxide sys­tem pushes the power curve over the grand mark. Back­ing up that combo is a NAG1 Su­per Pro Se­ries five-speed au­to­matic with a Pro­torque 4,400-stall speed con­verter from Para­mount Per­for­mance Prod­ucts in Martinsville, Vir­ginia. The rest of the driv­e­train con­sists of a one-piece car­bon-fiber drive­shaft from The Drive­shaft Shop in Sal­is­bury, North Carolina, and a stock Chrysler hous­ing fit­ted with a 3.06:1 Quaife lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial. On the dyno, the Hemi cranked out 902 horses at the rear wheels and 838 lb-ft of torque, which was a long way from the Avenger days.

In the in­te­rior, Der­rick ac­tu­ally kept it tame with a set of Auto Me­ter gauges, and a 10-point rollcage. While that was re­strained, the ex­te­rior would con­tinue to un­dergo reg­u­lar al­ter­ations. The most no­tice­able changes are the large func­tional vents be­hind the front wheel open­ings and the front spoiler. And then there’s the paint — or lack thereof. When we pho­tographed

the wagon, it was wrapped in an Avery La­goon Blue Matte Metal­lic shade. This has been, over the years, a mov­ing tar­get for Der­rick, and when­ever he gets bored with the color, a new wrap is ap­plied. Keep­ing it fresh is some­thing that he learned when do­ing the car shows, so when he picked the matte blue wrap, the cri­te­ria was to try some­thing dif­fer­ent and not use any­thing near a fac­tory color.

The other visual el­e­ment that he took into con­sid­er­a­tion was the wheel and tire choice. Low­pro­file Lex­ani Per­for­mance ra­di­als wrap a set of Amani Lorenzo Con­cave wheels that also get the added touch of match­ing vinyl when­ever he changes the body color.

For his ef­forts, the wagon has earned the nick­name “The Belt­way Bully” in the Bal­ti­more and D.C. area. While it pro­duces am­ple amounts of power, he notes that, “It has never been about run­ning around with drag ra­di­als.” The name has been earned in­stead from blasts at 50 mph to any­where above 150 mph on the belt­ways, which he de­scribes as “quick lit­tle runs.”

The wagon con­tin­ues to evolve, and per­for­mance gains have been made along the line, but the visual changes are the most fre­quent with each pass­ing year.


Left mostly stock, Der­rick has added a 10-point rollcage to the in­te­rior for the sake of safety. Hav­ing rolled his pre­vi­ous Mag­num, the cage adds both safety and struc­tural rigid­ity.

The ad­ver­tised 27 cu­bic feet of cargo space has been sac­ri­ficed in the name of speed with the ad­di­tion of a pair of nitrous bot­tles.

Wrapped and low­ered, the wagon is a de­cep­tive blend of muscle car power with the prac­ti­cal­ity of a peo­ple mover.

Sport­ing func­tional fender scoops and 22-inch wheels with a match­ing wrap, these touches add a fair amount of in­di­vid­u­al­ity.

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