Bat­tery trunk re­lo­ca­tion

Clas­sic mus­cle cars are de­cid­edly heav­ier in the front than in the rear. That should come as no sur­prise to any­one who has tried to au­tocross his or her Amer­i­can reardrive ve­hi­cles. With the en­gine and all the heavy stuff up front, a mus­cle car can of­ten have as much as 65 per­cent of the weight on the front axle. Not only is that not good for corner­ing, but it’s also not great for rear tire grip when un­der for­ward ac­cel­er­a­tion.

So as we re­view the un­der­hood fea­tures of our mus­cle car, the ques­tion be­comes: What can we re­lo­cate un­der here that would make a dif­fer­ence to the weight bias of our car? Un­for­tu­nately, the an­swer is not much, with the ex­cep­tion of that 50-plus pound black box we call a bat­tery. In test­ing, it has been proven that mov­ing a bat­tery from un­der­hood to the trunk can change weight bal­ance 1 to 2 per­cent. That’s a huge im­prove­ment.

Lead acid bat­ter­ies can weigh over 70 pounds, and as we’ve seen with some pure race fac­tory of­fer­ing like light­weight 1968 Dodge Hemi Darts or a 1963 Max Wedge B-body, the fac­tory not only moved the bat­tery to the rear, but in­stalled a su­per heavy­weight bat­tery to help with trac­tion. That’s not a bad idea, es­pe­cially when you con­sider that a bat­tery in the trunk with high crank­ing amps is im­por­tant to over­come the in­creased length of the bat­tery ca­bles that’ll be re­quired to ac­ti­vate the starter five times the length of the fac­tory ca­bling.

Our 1974 Ply­mouth Duster was a good can­di­date for a bat­tery-in-trunk mod­i­fi­ca­tion. With the car stripped to the bare floors, it made it easy for us to demon­strate just how it’s done. In ad­di­tion, we added a kill switch that’d be mounted un­der the driver seat to al­low us to turn off all elec­tri­cal el­e­ments of the ve­hi­cle — and pro­vide an anti-theft sys­tem that would make the Duster that much harder to steal.

The parts shown here were pulled to­gether from a va­ri­ety of sources, but kits for bat­tery re­lo­ca­tion can be found from a va­ri­ety of ven­dors like Sum­mit Rac­ing and Clas­sic In­dus­tries. For our ap­pli­ca­tion, we pur­chased the mas­ter lock-out switch and the bat­tery ca­bling from an au­to­mo­tive sup­ply store, and the bat­tery

tray from Ed­die Mo­tor­sports. The Op­tima Yel­low Top 34/78 bat­tery was some­thing we just had on hand. Note that this bat­tery fea­tures 750 cold crank­ing amps and 120 min­utes of re­serve ca­pac­ity, mak­ing it per­fect for our South­ern Cal­i­for­nia–based Ply­mouth.

Fol­low along as we send our bat­tery to the trunk. This is a very sim­ple mod­i­fi­ca­tion that can be com­pleted in about an hour if you have all of the com­po­nents. You’ll need sim­ple tools and a hole saw to cut through the sheetmetal to al­low the ca­bling to pass through from the front of the ve­hi­cle to the rear. Charged up and ready to go?

Here’s how it’s done.

Mov­ing the bat­tery to the trunk on our 1974 Ply­mouth Duster could make a 1 to 2 per­cent dif­fer­ence in the ve­hi­cle weight bias front to rear. With more weight in the rear, han­dling in cor­ners is im­proved as well as weight trans­fer un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion.

With the wire cov­er­ing stripped off enough to fit into the eyelet, we crimped the eyelet in place with this crimper. We used this steel ham­mer to ap­ply enough force to the crimp­ing de­vice.

We se­lected #1 gauge wire to han­dle the power trans­fer from our soon-to-be rear­mounted bat­tery to the en­gine com­po­nents and neg­a­tive ground point.

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