BANGIN GEARS

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BOB MEHLHOFF, EDI­TOR

Who­ever coined the phrase, “it’s all about the lit­tle de­tails,” was most likely not talk­ing about build­ing cars. But it cer­tainly holds true to­day in the per­for­mance au­to­mo­tive world with one caveat, “it’s all about the im­proved lit­tle de­tails.” Re­cently, we’ve fea­tured tech sto­ries about align­ing sheet­metal, per­form­ing high-qual­ity body­work, and in­stalling a new set of AMD quar­ter-pan­els, just to name a few.

On a re­cent visit to one of our lo­cal body shop stops, we found the shop owner do­ing some fine-tun­ing on door gaps that were part of this same re­cent AMD quar­ter-panel story. The can­di­date, a ’63 Ply­mouth, is com­ing along great and now wears laser-straight body pan­els and a deep lus­ter of glis­ten­ing paint. And al­though the door gaps were al­ready re­ally closely aligned, the body shop was look­ing to just tighten up the front fender-to-door gap by re­mov­ing just an­other 1/16 of an inch from the fender-to-door gap.

As we look for cars to fea­ture in Mopar Mus­cle, one of the usual cri­te­ria is the at­ten­tion to de­tail through­out the en­tire car. Ob­vi­ously, a lot of barn finds, unique per­for­mance cars, or sur­vivor cars may of­ten lack this trait, but for the most part it’s the ex­e­cu­tion of de­tails that sets one car apart from an­other. Of course, en­gine build­ing falls into this cat­e­gory as well. With any high-per­for­mance en­gine build, it’s crit­i­cal to check a host of lit­tle de­tails from main bear­ing jour­nal clear­ances to push rod lengths.

The same holds true through­out the driv­e­train and sus­pen­sion. Take, for ex­am­ple, the lat­est of­fer­ings from Dodge, and you’ll im­me­di­ately see the huge per­for­mance gains. Many of the late-model V-8 Mopars are mak­ing over 700 hp and even the V-6 has great per­for­mance. What’s the dif­fer­ence from decades ago? Well dis­place­ment is gen­er­ally the same, and the ve­hi­cles ac­tu­ally of­ten weigh about 750 to 1,000 pounds or more than they have over the years. The use of su­per­charg­ers is noth­ing new to the au­to­mo­tive world, as they’ve been in use for about 100 years. And Chrysler first at­tempted elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion (Elec­tro­jec­tor) in the late 1950s with im­pres­sive horse­power num­bers, but lacked good drive­abil­ity and per­for­mance. What’s changed to­day? Again, it’s the im­proved lit­tle de­tails that make up the vastly bet­ter air/fuel man­age­ment and ig­ni­tion sys­tems, the use of more mod­ern trans­mis­sions with ad­di­tional and op­ti­mal ra­tios, su­pe­rior air­flow both into and out of the en­gine, and, of course, sus­pen­sion im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing turn­ing an­gles, han­dling, and brak­ing to name a few. And, of course, no­tice the very con­sis­tent and min­i­mal sheet­metal gaps on late-model cars that a few decades ear­lier were much larger and in­con­sis­tent from one new car to an­other.

The per­for­mance af­ter­mar­ket has also em­braced im­prov­ing lit­tle de­tails with en­hanced tech­nol­ogy pursuits that de­liver im­proved power and drive­abilty com­po­nents. Re­cently, we vis­ited with the folks at sev­eral af­ter­mar­ket per­for­mance man­u­fac­tur­ers — in­clud­ing Procharger, Gforce Engi­neer­ing, and Aero­mo­tive — where we wit­nessed the lat­est im­prove­ments in power en­hanc­ing com­po­nents and stronger driv­e­train sys­tems. Here again the au­to­mo­tive en­thu­si­ast con­tin­ues to be the ben­e­fi­ciary.

All of th­ese im­proved lit­tle de­tails may not seem like much at first, but in to­tal they set one car and its ap­pear­ance and power ca­pa­bil­ity apart from the oth­ers. And that’s a big deal.

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