Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BY JOHN MACHAQUEIRO

Af­ter wait­ing a few years to buy his ’63 Dodge 440, Yvon Beaudry cre­ated the Max Wedge–fla­vored car of his dreams.

One of the most frus­trat­ing phrases you can hear when you have your sights set on a car is, “I’m gonna fix it up some day.” This is of­ten the dreaded re­ply given to those who find that di­a­mond in the rough rot­ting in the ground some­where and in need of a res­cue. Those who have suc­ceeded in pry­ing these cars away from un­re­spon­sive own­ers usu­ally man­age that feat with ei­ther stupid amounts of cash, un­re­lent­ing per­sis­tence, or a com­bi­na­tion of both. Some­times it may only take a few months, but as is of­ten the case, it usu­ally takes years. For Québé­cois Yvon Beaudry that chal­lenge lasted for three years. Then, in 2002, he was able to se­cure own­er­ship of a ’63 Dodge 440 two-door sedan. “I found the car about 20 miles from my home,” he re­calls. “A guy named Mario Le­clerc, who has sub­se­quently be­come a good friend, stopped at my garage to look at a car that I had for sale, and he told me he had three Dodges at his place.”

Yvon was in­ter­ested in putting to­gether a Dodge af­ter hav­ing spent many years play­ing with Stude­baker Avan­tis, so he went to see what this guy ac­tu­ally had. The 440 im­me­di­ately stood out for all its po­ten­tial. His de­sire was to build a Max Wedge–in­spired

car, and this Dodge was the right start­ing point. It had been sit­ting for years with­out be­ing fired up, but it was un­mo­lested and still wear­ing its orig­i­nal 225ci slant-six, push-but­ton three-speed au­to­matic, and two-tone beige paint. Most im­por­tantly, all the trim was in place and in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion — and it wasn’t for sale. The owner was adamant on fix­ing it up at some point. But per­sis­tence even­tu­ally paid off, and he re­luc­tantly parted ways with the car.

A few months af­ter park­ing the Dodge in his garage, the slow process of tak­ing it apart com­menced. It was placed on a ro­tis­serie in prepa­ra­tion for a com­plete makeover. As ex­pected, once it shed most of its hard­ware, rust dam­age

was the pri­mary con­cern. As that task was com­pleted, the bare body was sent to Cus­tom Garage in Saint-pauld’ab­bots­ford, Québec, for me­dia blasting and the needed met­al­work. Stéphane Lussier was tasked with deal­ing with all the metal and body­work. Sur­pris­ingly, for a car that had spent most of its life in Canada, it wasn’t in that bad of shape.

That doesn’t mean it didn’t have any rust issues — it did. The re­cur­ring cul­prits on any vin­tage Mopar from that era are usu­ally the rear lower quar­ters, trunk floor, front floor, lower front fend­ers, and fire­wall. The Dodge had rust dam­age in all of these ar­eas, and at that time re­place­ment pieces weren’t avail­able, so Stéphane had to fab­ri­cate all the patch pan­els. The goal was to lay down black paint, so the body had to be ra­zor sharp — that feat took a few months to com­plete. Once the Dodge was ready for its new coat of paint, it was moved to Car­rosserie Réal Bouthillier in Saintcé­saire, Québec, for the fin­ish work. That work was han­dled by the guy’s name hang­ing out front, Réal Bouthiller. He laid down the smooth black ure­thane Yvon was look­ing for. Once that was com­pleted, the body was taken back to shop.

While the body was away be­ing sorted, Yvon stayed busy get­ting the needed hard­ware to­gether to re­place the slant-six. The foun­da­tion for that would come from one of Chrysler’s finest land yachts, a ’76 New Yorker. He pulled a com­plete low-com­pres­sion 440 and Torqueflite out of a donor to mas­sage into a suit­able re­place­ment. Since the goal was to build some­thing close to a Max Wedge, he sent the en­gine to Claude Gau­thier in Saint-hu­bert, Québec, for all the ma­chine work. The RB block was com­pletely gone over and a stock forged crank in­stalled, along with stock rods, a set of 10.5:1 SRP forged pis­tons, and a COMP Cams hy­draulic camshaft. The heads were also re­tained and given a com­plete re­fresh with new Fer­rea 2.08inch in­take and 1.74-inch ex­haust valves in­stalled, COMP Cams dual valvesprings, and ad­justable Mopar rocker arms. Some of the parts he needed for the trans­for­ma­tion were very spe­cific and needed to come from the states, so he made trips beyond the border.

From A&A Trans­mis­sions, he ac­quired a new alu­minum Max Wedge in­take man­i­fold that he topped off with a pair of Edel­brock 500-cfm car­bu­re­tors, while a set of re­pro­duc­tion Max Wedge ex­haust man­i­folds were a swap meet pur­chase. Those would even­tu­ally mate to a pair of 3-inch pipes run­ning back to a pair of Dyno­max muf­flers. The Torque-flite that he pulled was also treated to a full re­build at Choiniere Trans­mis­sion in Saint-paul-d’ab­bots­ford, Québec. It re­ceived a Hughes 10-inch 3,000-stall speed con­verter and a shift kit. The spring and fall Carlisle Col­lec­tor car swap meets also be­came vi­tal in the ac­qui­si­tion of the needed pieces as the car came to­gether. Yvon made nu­mer­ous trips to the Penn­syl­va­nia fair­ground while putting the Dodge back to­gether in search of parts. Other valu­able sources he re­lied upon for parts and ad­vice were

Kramer Au­to­mo­tive Spe­cial­ties in Her­man, Penn­syl­va­nia, and Joe Suchy Mopar Car & Parts in Fair­burn, Ge­or­gia. Both of these shops spe­cial­ize in early ’60s Mopar parts, in­clud­ing Max Wedge items.

As the car came back to­gether, af­ter the driv­e­train was in­stalled, he tackled the re­in­stal­la­tion of the sus­pen­sion. It was also given a full re­build with the ad­di­tion of Su­per Stock leaf springs at the rear and a swap of the front drum brakes with a set of discs from a ’70 ’Cuda. KYB shocks at all four cor­ners were also in­stalled and a 3.55:1 set of gears in­stalled in the stock 8.75 rear hous­ing. Rolling stock was up­graded as well with the ad­di­tion of Amer­i­can Rac­ing Torq-thrust D wheels wrapped in a mix of tires. The front wheels mea­sure 15x4.5 and wear P215/75R15 Kelly Ex­plorer Plus Ra­dial rub­ber. At the rear, 15x7 wheels run on P275/60R15 Bfgoodrich Ra­dial T/A tires.

The last part tackled was the in­te­rior. Since the car was given a color change, the in­te­rior was also go­ing to mimic that tran­si­tion. Re­flect­ing on the orig­i­nal two-tone ex­te­rior paint scheme, the in­te­rior was also fac­tory equipped with two-tone beige, which Yvon de­cided to switch to black. That was ac­com­plished with a com­plete re­spray of all the trim and the dash in black, and the in­stal­la­tion of a new white head­liner. The door pan­els equally needed a color change, so they were also sent to SMS Auto Fabrics in Canby, Ore­gon, for their makeover in black. In an ef­fort to keep tex­tu­ral con­sis­tency, SMS also sup­plied the ma­te­rial to re-stitch the seats, which Yvon had done lo­cally. The end re­sult is an in­te­rior that is fac­tory stock in ap­pear­ance with only the ad­di­tion of a set of af­ter­mar­ket oil and tem­per­a­ture gauges, and a Sun­pro Retro Tach.

On the ex­te­rior, it was a huge plus to have most of the trim in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, how­ever, all the chrome pieces were re­fin­ished and the stain­less trim sent to PRP Metal and Paint in Saint-côme, Québec. Robby Poulin was the guy who per­formed the pol­ish­ing magic on all the Dodge’s stain­less trim.

Af­ter four years of lost week­ends putting the Dodge to­gether, Yvon was able to fi­nally take the car to its first out­ing, at the 2012 edi­tion of the Carlisle Chrysler Na­tion­als — only fit­ting, since so many of the parts used in its cre­ation came from there. The fruit of his la­bor paid off with a class win and a re­turn in­vite the fol­low­ing year for the Max Wedge re­union. His goal was to show the Dodge the first year and then start driv­ing it, which in­volved do­ing a match race against his brother and his ’69 Ca­maro. We’ll keep you posted on that one.

The sim­ple, el­e­gant lines of ’63-and-later Chryslers are seen in the shape of this beau­ti­fully re­stored tail­light assem­bly.

Yvon’s Dodge re­ceived a few re­pro­duc­tion parts, of which the Dodge trunk emblem was one. It blends in well with the other trim that was ei­ther pol­ished or re-chromed.

The in­te­rior on the Dodge was given a color change from a two-tone beige fin­ish to a com­bi­na­tion of black and white. The en­tire dash was re­painted in black and the chrome and stain­less pieces re­fin­ished.

The hood­scoop on Yvon’s Dodge is a fiber­glass re­pro­duc­tion of the ones that came on 1963 mod­els equipped with the light­weight alu­minum front end and 13.5:1 high-com­pres­sion en­gines. They were orig­i­nally mounted on hoods that were cut to take ad­van­tage...

To give the Dodge that pe­riod-cor­rect day-two look, 15x4.5 Amer­i­can Rac­ing Torq-thrust D wheels were wrapped in 215/75R15 Kelly Ex­plorer Plus Ra­dial tires.

Yvon mounted the bat­tery in the trunk to mimic the orig­i­nal Max Wedge cars. Mount­ing the bat­tery at the rear helped with weight bal­ance and trans­fer. Also worth not­ing is the tub­ing that helps vent elec­trolyte fumes to the out­side of the ve­hi­cle so...

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