BAN­GIN GEARS

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BOB MEHLHOFF, EDI­TOR

What’s un­der the hood? Walk the aisles of any great car show, and it’s one of a car en­thu­si­ast’s fa­vorite pur­suits. We just re­turned from the Carlisle Chrysler Na­tion­als in Penn­syl­va­nia and had a great time. Be­sides the large pres­ence of thou­sands of Mopars and parts, we had a great time look­ing into the en­gine com­part­ments of a va­ri­ety of cars. Peer­ing at the engines, we typ­i­cally saw how the owner trans­formed his or her imag­i­na­tion from an idea into horse­power. Vary­ing from blueprint­ing a stock en­gine for the best power to build­ing some­thing wild. Among many of the cars, we saw some pretty cool, pure stock, or mod­i­fied orig­i­nal engines. Ev­ery­thing from Slant Sixes to small-blocks, B-engines, 426 Hemis, 440 Six Pack engines, or the lat­est big-power fuel-in­jected Hemis.

But then there were the cars with ei­ther very un­usual engines trans­planted from dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent cars or an un­usual fac­tory op­tion in the en­gine com­part­ment. One of the most un­usual and pow­er­ful-look­ing en­gine trans­plants we saw was a Viper V-10 en­gine in­stalled into a ’69 Dodge Charger. Al­though that en­gine is al­ready known for out­stand­ing power lev­els, the owner (a life­long deal­er­ship me­chanic by trade) added even more power with his own cus­tom twin-turbo sys­tem. Wow, what a crowd that setup drew!

Un­der the cat­e­gory of an un­usual fac­tory op­tion in the en­gine com­part­ment, we saw a mid-’60s A-body Dodge Dart GT with the stan­dard fare 225 Slant Six mod­i­fied with some cus­tom Of­fen­hauser items, but equipped with fac­tory A/C and the old-style RV2 pis­ton com­pres­sor. Yes, we’re sure some have seen or owned a Slant Six with fac­tory A/C be­fore, but it’s def­i­nitely one that wasn’t very com­mon.

Then, un­der the hood of a per­fectly gor­geous post-world War II Chrysler con­vert­ible wear­ing an ex­cep­tional pas­tel light green paintjob, we found a late-model, fuel-in­jected Hemi en­gine. The in­stal­la­tion was so well done that the car looked like it came from the fac­tory with this setup. Yes, not a trace re­mained of the orig­i­nal L-head Spit­fire straight-eight. On the out­side, the car looked like some­thing Fred As­taire would’ve driven in a late ’40s movie.

Then, we no­ticed a small crowd con­verg­ing around a late’60s Dodge cab-over flatbed medium duty truck. The cab was tilted over as a group of guys were check­ing out the en­gine of this Dodge truck. Dodge cab-overs were man­u­fac­tured from 1966 through 1971 and used a Dodge van front body sec­tion above the front axle. The stan­dard trusty work­horse engines for these were Slant Six gas engines, but this one was pow­ered by a big-block Chrysler (prob­a­bly a 361 or 383) with a two-bar­rel to pro­vide lots of low-speed torque. If this were un­der the hood of some­thing like a ’66 Chrysler, most wouldn’t have even given it a sec­ond look. But the fact that it was pow­er­ing this un­usual ve­hi­cle cer­tainly added a lot of in­trigue to it. Plus, the qual­ity and crafts­man­ship of the en­tire ve­hi­cle’s restora­tion was ex­cel­lent.

Au­to­mo­tive imag­i­na­tion is key to our hobby and is what de­fines it. Whether the imag­i­na­tion di­rects one to main­tain a sur­vivor, re­store a mus­cle car, build a high-per­for­mance en­gine, driv­e­train, and sus­pen­sion, or make a never-be­fore-heard-of en­gine swap look like a fac­tory in­stall, it’s what pow­ers our hobby. Just imag­ine what could be un­der the hood of your next pro­ject.

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