Roadkill Episode 40: The Crop Duster!

Roadkill Episode 40: The Crop Duster!

As if the the guys at Hot Rod didn’t already have enough of them, David Freiburger, and Mike Finnegan uncover another Roadkill project car! Even better, it’s one of Freiburger’s forgotten project cars. The Crop Duster is the result of multiple trades with an old buddy, and around five years of neglect in the dirt of a grape farm. With General Mayhem relieving its motorhome 440 from duty in exchange for a blown Hellcat motor, Freiburger knew exactly where the 440 could find a home. The trick is, they need to head the farm ran by Steve Dulcich, editor of Engine Masters Magazine, to drag the Duster out of the field, and then attempt to adapt the 440 to the Duster in five days. There might have been some butchered headers, an ill-advised homemade driveshaft, honest bodywork, and a few upgrades in the process. Then it’s was off to the chassis dyno and the drag strip to see how well the Crop Duster flies! Thanks for support from MSD Performance and from Optima, the new Official Battery of Roadkill!

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Posted in Industry News

Last Stage III Camaro by Nickey Chevrolet heads to auction

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

From the late 1950s onward, Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago, Illinois, built a reputation as one of the country’s go-to dealers for high performance parts, and later, turnkey cars. When the Camaro debuted in 1967, Nickey claimed to be the first to drop a 427 V-8 between its fenders, and into the 1970s did a brisk business in selling modified Camaros (and other Chevy models). When Nickey Chevrolet became Keystone Chevrolet in December of 1973, the production of modified cars at the dealership ceased; next month, a 1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro, believed to be the last one built by Nickey Chevrolet, will cross the auction block in Indianapolis.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

To be clear, Nickey Chevrolet ceased building high-performance cars in December of 1973, but at the same time Nickey Chicago opened its doors. Started by former Nickey Chevrolet vice president Al Seelig and former dealership parts manager Don Swiatek, Nickey Chicago continued to sell parts, tuning services and complete cars until the business shut down a second time in 1977. Even this wasn’t the end of the Nickey name; about the time that Chevrolet revived the Camaro in 2010, Stefano Bimbi  reopened Nickey Chicago, specializing in modifications to the latest generation of Chevrolet Camaros.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

The original owner of the yellow 1974 Camaro carrying VIN 1S87K4N128358 had read about Nickey’s performance modifications, and wanted a car of his own for high-speed highway cruising. Ordered in Type LT trim, the car was delivered to Nickey Chevrolet on November 17, 1973, and the conversion took place immediately after. As GM was no longer supplying assembled L88 V-8s by this point in time, Nickey ordered an L88 short block and the components required to build the engine in house.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

As delivered, the Nickey Stage III Camaro’s V-8 came with cast iron heads for durability, instead of L88′s usual aluminum castings; 12.5:1 compression; and a Holley 4053 780 cfm carburetor perched atop an LS6 intake manifold. Given the car’s road-centric mission, it was ordered with 3.23 gearing in the Positraction rear, which would have been a suboptimal setup for dragstrip use but probably yielded slightly better fuel economy. The original owner held on to the Nickey Camaro for the next16 six years before selling the car to Rocco Lucente around 1980.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

Lucente reportedly drove the car for a few months before parking it in the basement garage of his mother’s house and pulling the engine, intent on making a few revisions to improve driveablility. Other projects took priority, and the car sat disassembled for the next 28 years, until Lucente’s mother forced the issue. Placed for sale locally, the car was found by Stefano Bimbi, the man behind Nickey Chicago’s latest rebirth, who quickly cut a deal for the Camaro and soon after sold the car to Mike Guarise.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

Guarise sent the Camaro to Muscle Car Designs for a complete restoration and build to “Day Two” specifications. Making it quicker off the line, 4.56 gearing was added to the 10-bolt Positraction rear, a set of Lakewood traction bars were installed and air-adjustable Gabriel Hi-Jacker shocks were fitted. Inside, the carpeting was replaced, but most of the remaining interior parts are said to be original.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

Shown at the 2013 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, the Camaro scored 999 out of a possible 1,000 points, enough to capture the award for the Best Chevrolet in the Modified class. As for proof that this was the last Camaro put together at Nickey Chevrolet before the operation moved to Nickey Chicago, that’s a bit tougher to come by. Still, the car has been certified as a genuine Nickey build, and the date of the 427 conversion makes it highly unlikely that any further Stage III cars were assembled after this. Given the car’s show-ready condition, 33,000 original miles and place in muscle car history, Mecum is predicting a selling price between $135,000 and $175,000 when the car crosses the stage in Indianapolis on May 16.

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro

1974 Nickey Stage III Camaro. Photos by David Newhardt, courtesy Mecum Auctions.


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Posted in Auction News, Interesting Stuff

Giving Roadkill’s Vette-Kart a competitor!

This Stripped Dodge Viper Is The Go-Kart Project Of Your Nightmares

Have you ever wondered what life would look like if you had X-ray vision? Well, don your most flattering set of undergarments and climb into this Dodge Viper SRT-10 project. You’ll match the candid birthday suit motif, and you’ll be driving the most awesome modern Mad Max Go-Kart ever.

This Stripped Dodge Viper Is The Go-Kart Project Of Your Nightmares1

This 2005 Dodge Viper SRT-10 Convertible started life as any new sports car – on a dealer’s lot, perhaps having a few butts sit in its cushy leather before some aging 10-percenter finances it over the course of six years, leaving it to his wife in the divorce in year four, right after the warranty runs out.

This car in particular, had a slight boo-boo that gave the issuing insurance company reason to declare it a total loss, although the seller says the car comes with a clean title. Right. According to the seller, the frame was damaged but set straight, and barring some body panels and some minor body work, this car is good to go. I’d have other plans.

This Stripped Dodge Viper Is The Go-Kart Project Of Your Nightmares

Here’s what I’d do: Fasten some universal trailer lights to the back, put some enclosed headlights for the front, and zip tie the license plates on. To my knowledge, there’s no law that says your car has to have body panels, right? That is, if the seller’s description of the car is up to scratch. Here’s an excerpt:

“This vehicle was involved in a collision which slightly pushed the left hand frame rail back. As you can see from the pictures provided in the link above, we put the vehicle on our frame machine and pulled the rail back into place. The rear frame near the passenger roll bar also show some dents. This is not an un-hit frame but it is very useable”

This Stripped Dodge Viper Is The Go-Kart Project Of Your Nightmares

If I had the disposable income, I’d pay the reasonable price of entry for this 500+ horsepower go-kart. There’s a good chance that you could make it into a running and driving clean example of a modern Viper with the missing body panels, or you could just act out your 12-year old fantasy of making a death machine that whizzes, bangs, and pops with the aesthetics of a midnight forest fire. Amateurs need not apply.


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Posted in Industry News

How to Fire an Engine That’s Been in Storage

How to Fire an Engine That's Been in Storage

Car Craft recently helped a friend pull a 1955 Chevy out of a yard where it had been sitting for more than two decades. The tires had sort of flat-spotted by growing into the ground, and the keys were long gone. The ’55 had been such a deal because it had an oddball 305/TH400 combo that had been swapped in after the original motor had nuked years ago. But the current owner warned us that the 305 had smoked like hell while driving from Idaho to California decades ago, explaining how it ended up getting parked for so long.

While the 305 was planned to just be a stopgap until the ’55 got a 377-cid aluminum-block Donovan engine, we still wanted to get the thing running. With years of an unknown history, we decided to run through a checklist before firing it up for the first time. Other than a set of $450 Weld wheels from Craigslist so it could roll around, the ’55 was just as it was pulled out of hibernation. Here’s what it took to get an unknown motor and transmission combination running and driving again.

02 Fire Extinguisher 2/17

Before starting, we made sure we had the basics on hand: a towel to sop up fluids and, of course, a fire extinguisher. Starting up a vehicle that’s been sitting for a while could mean fuel leaks, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

03 Checking The Oil 3/17

We started with the most basic of questions: does the engine have oil? Even if it does, there can still be issues. Water contamination is a common problem, so if the oil is runny or milkshake-colored, it’s best not to even start the car. Ours looked OK, at least for a few seconds of running.

04 Transmission Fluid 4/17

The trans fluid was next, and at this point, we just wanted to make sure there was any ATF in there. When it came to actually driving the car, we checked it in Drive with the brake on to make sure it was still full when the fluid was circulating inside the converter.

05 Radiator 5/17

It’s no fun getting sprayed with cooolant, so we checked the radiator, as well as the hoses, for any large leaks. Although the top of the radiator (borrowed from a Mopar application) was bashed in to clear the hood, it still held water, which was good!

06 Good Battery 6/17

You might be cranking for a while when you first try and fire up an engine, so it’s always good to have a fresh battery on hand, a battery charger, or at least another car and a pair of jumper cables. The borrowed battery we used to start the Chevy had 735 cold-cranking amps, which was more than enough to fire the little 305.

07 Oil Pressure 7/17

One of the few fancy tools we had for our backyard test session was an oil pressure gauge that came off of “some long-forgotten project.” We removed the original sender by the distributor and plugged in the mechanical gauge.

08 Carb Stud 8/17

To spot fuel leaks and other potential problems, we started the engine without the air cleaner. Before doing so, we made sure the carburetor stud was tight, and we took the air-filter wing nut off. The last thing you want is to see either of those falling into the carb of a running engine.

09 Coil Jump Wire 9/17

Because the ignition key was long gone, we had to do some creative wiring to crank the engine, including using a jumper wire to power to the coil. A regular key ignition will be reinstalled when the vehicle hits the street.

010 Belt Tension 10/17

It’s also a good idea to check that the belt(s) is not frayed or cracked. Getting pimp-slapped by a belt flying apart at 2,000 rpm would be no fun.

011 Plug Wire 11/17

You can crank an engine all day, but it will never start if your distributor isn’t in the right spot to fire the engine. We checked for No. 1 versus distributor position the old-school way—by pulling out the No. 1 plug, verifying top dead center, and making sure the rotor in the distributor was pointing roughly in the right direction. While this isn’t exact, you can usually get the timing close enough to get the engine to start. Make sure to keep your face away from the carburetor to avoid backfires (ask us how we know).

012 Carb Linkage 12/17

It’s common for old engines to have gummed-up throttle linkages, so we made sure ours rotated freely and snapped shut when we let go of the throttle arm.

013 Spark Plug Tester 13/17

Spark-plug checking tools are available at most auto-parts stores. They plug into the ignition wire just like a regular spark plug, and if clipped to a good connection to ground, will generate a loud, visible spark each time that plug is supposed to fire. When we cranked our engine over, we could actually see the gizmo sparking away, so we knew the ignition system was working, at least.

014 Gas In Float 14/17

Filling up the carburetor’s float bowl before trying to start the engine will prevent prolonged cranking needed for a mechanical pump to fill the carburetor itself. We used a syringe to fill our Quadrajet’s float bowl with gas. Remember that gasoline vapors are extremely flammable, so check for leaks. If you see any, shut the engine down immediately.

016 Fuel Filter 15/17

A see-through fuel filter can be very helpful in making sure fuel is getting up to the carb. While we could see that the fuel pump was working and providing fuel, we also could see rust was making its way into the filter, so the fuel tank would eventually have to be dropped and cleaned (later).

017 Oil Pressure Gauge 16/17

Depending on how long the engine has been sitting, you may want to remove all the spark plugs, add a few drops of oil into each cylinder, and crank the engine for a few revolutions before enabling the ignition, thus preventing a dry-start condition with the piston rings. At this point, we powered up the ignition and fired the engine. Once it started, we immediately checked the mechanical oil pressure gauge, which read about 40 psi with the engine running at 2,000 rpm. Since this was well within the 10–15-psi per 1,000-rpm guideline, we knew we were in good shape.

018 Engine Running 17/17

We’d checked and double-checked everything, and now our 305 was alive! There was a good amount of smoke (which we expected) but no knocking, ticking, or any other internal noises. It also didn’t leak anything after running for a few minutes, which was surprising. While we’re still a long way to having the Chevy be a running and reliable daily driver, and least we know we’re on our way.


Written by Jason Sands – A Backyard Guide to Starting a Neglected Engine

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Posted in Restoration Tips | Tagged

The Mopars of SEMA

The Mopars of SEMA

There are great car shows throughout the year, but when a builder or manufacturer wants to debut something truly trendsetting or game changing, they hold onto it for SEMA. The Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas is a trade-only show designed to bring manufacturers, buyers, and the media together. The general public is not allowed, except in certain restricted areas, and for the SEMA Ignited after-party on Friday night. This means it’s up to us to sort through the many halls, booths, and promenades to harvest all that good Chrysler content. It’s a magical place for the gearheads who have official business, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting for the machine-head masses. SEMA is like Disneyland, the Emerald City in the Wizard Of Oz, and Area 51 all rolled up into one—and that’s why we’re going to give you a front-row seat to the best Mopars of the 2014 SEMA Convention!

This year the turnout was the largest we’ve seen in years, in both vendors and attendees, and they brought along their latest builds to show off. The convention center was awash with amazing project cars as well as fresh and innovative products centered on making vintage and modern Mopars faster, more powerful, and more fun. Each year we can count on finding amazing cars that generate buzz and earn accolades, but this year was something special.

This year the Mopars stole the show. The buzz around the Las Vegas Convention Center centered on the extreme examples of Pentastar performance that quite literally stopped crowds in their tracks. A 2,300hp ’68 Charger that’s literally 6 inches wider? Yeah, and it’s bare metal too. The never-before-seen ’15 Challenger T/A concept? No back seat, rollbar, track ready. A twin-turbo Viper-powered ’68 Charger with a completely hand-formed body? You can’t even comprehend how much metal shaping went into this one. A ’72 Satellite restored with mostly spray paint? It looks amazingly good on a tight budget. The first stock-bodied car to run 183 mph at Bonneville? Mopar royalty and a history maker from the pre-muscle car era. A ’72 ‘Cuda infused with exotic supercar styling? Slicked-out and obnoxious in all the right ways. The best Day 2–style Hemi Challenger we’ve ever seen? It’s like 1970, but with better parts. A 1,000hp Richard Petty–designed ’15 Challenger? Of course it’s Petty Blue. Yeah, all of those were there and then some!

In the endless sea of custom SEMA cars, Mopars made their presence known and cast a long shadow over the competition. We could hardly contain our excitement, but we did manage to keep it together enough to narrow it down to the best 11 Mopars at SEMA, and we present to you the exclusive, up-close photos and details.

1972 Plymouth ‘Cuda Hellfish Builder: The Roadster Shop

The Roadster Shop crew had an interesting challenge with this build: how to blend European exotic and muscle car style into something that honors both, but disrespects neither. We think they did an excellent job.

Phil Gerber at the Roadster Shop tells us that the owner is a young guy who has always been into European modern exotics, such as Lambos and Ferraris, and he also prefers the high-end tuner style. So when he approached them inquiring about doing a ‘Cuda build, the question instantly became, “just how far do we push it?” Unlike Sliced, the thoroughly reimagined Charger, the goal with Hellfish was to actually keep the body within a very stock envelope. In fact, most people assume much more custom bodywork was performed than actually was. Gerber says, they just tucked the bumpers and reworked the valances, shaved and smoothed the body of emblems, trim, and handles, and added a rear ducktail to the decklid and quarters. All that was drenched in PPG Ferrari “Grigio Silverstone” with matte black hood and accents. That’s a short list, but the final effect looks like so much more. The interior keeps the sedate theme running with stock dash and door panels wrapped in leather, a custom center console, Recaro seats, and Spec gauges in a custom dash housing. The end product is an American supercar that not only begs to be driven, but that can push most exotics way back in the rearview mirror.

We know, we’re beating around the bush here. The part that leaps out at you first is the most polarizing part of the car: the wheels. The concave Forgelines wheels are coated in vibrant Transparent Red; something not seen much on the muscle car scene, but is much more normal in the supercar world.

Fast Facts
Engine: 1,020hp Gen III 6.1L Hemi stroked to a 392ci, twin rear-mount 67mm turbos
Trans: Tremec T56 Magnum
Suspension/Chassis: Roadster Shop Fast Track Chassis with Fast Track IFS, Penske double-adjustable coilovers, Woodward steering rack, Strange Engineering 9-inch with 3.90 gears and TrueTrac diff
Brakes: 13-inch, six-piston Wilwood
Wheels & Tires: 19×10 and 20×12 Forgeline DE3C with 275/30 and 335/30 Michelin Pilot Super Sport

1972 Plymouth Barracuda 2/52

The end product is an American supercar that not only begs to be driven, but that can push most exotics way back in the rearview mirror.

1968 Dodge Charger Sliced Builder: The Roadster Shop

There couldn’t be a more appropriate name for this Charger: Sliced. While the overall iconic Coke-bottle shape of the Charger remains easily recognizable, every single panel on the car is either custom fabricated or seriously modified. The result is a car that looks much like an artist’s rendering of a Charger as if it had been built in homage to the original by a supercar manufacturer. It’s not a completely “from scratch” type of build since the Roadster Shop crew did actually begin with a Charger, but everything has been reworked, widened, chopped, and stretched in so many ways that it is as close to a one-off custom body as possible while still being recognizable.

We could fill the whole magazine with the details in this car, but here’s just a taste of the sheetmetal sorcery. The front bumper and valance are hand-formed aluminum, as is the hood, which features functional heat extractors. The front fenders were widened and the wheelwells were moved forward 4 inches to minimize the long overhang of the stock car. The body cove at the front fender was exaggerated and formed into a single air extractor. The grille is CNC-cut aluminum, and backed by an elongated honeycomb mesh. To counter the radical style, a subdued Porsche color called “Grau Schwarz” gray was paired with custom mixed matte charcoal accents.

All that show can go too; underneath the custom skin is a full-tube chassis and a suspension based off the Roadster Shop’s IFS and IRS packages, but paired with a Viper centersection in the rear. The interior is as stunning as the exterior, and in some ways even more so. It’s all hand-fabricated aluminum from the dash to the door panels and includes a bevy of one-off machined components like the shifter, A/C controls, A/C vents, door handles, gauges and gauge housing.

Despite all of that unbelievable work, and tons more we don’t have space to mention, Sliced still manages to look like a Charger. It’s incredibly hard to pick a favorite component since there is so much to like about the build, but we find ourselves drawn to those amazing Greening Auto Company wheels. Recognize them? They’re a reinvention of the classic Vector wheel that has become synonymous with Chargers.

Fast Facts
Engine: Nelson Racing Engines Viper V-10, 1,300 hp at 12 psi of boost, twin 62mm turbos, custom billet intake and valve covers
Trans: Tremec five-speed
Suspension/Chassis: custom full-tube chassis with custom Roadster Shop Fast Track IFS and IRS with Viper centersection, Penske double-adjustable coilovers
Brakes: 4-inch, six-piston Brembo GT
Wheels & Tires: 19×10 and 20×15 by Greening Auto Company with Mickey Thompson tires

1968 Dodge Charger 6/52
1968 Dodge Charger Nelson Racing Engines Viper V 10 10/52

1972 Plymouth Satellite VHT Satellite Builder: VHTThere’s really no two ways about it; restoring vintage cars gets pricey in a hurry. With decade’s worth of wear, tear, neglect, and general decay on everything, just getting a car back to respectable can be a challenge. Even if you happen to find a project in good running order, the cosmetic restoration can be as spendy as a mechanical one, considering how much reproduction parts cost. So what do you do if you’re on a budget, or even worse, faced with a car that has very little aftermarket support? After all, at least 50 percent of hot rodding is getting the look you want.

VHT decided to take that challenge by using their line of products on a ’72 Satellite. When the project began, the Satellite was running and driving, but still wearing the original, highly oxidized, patchy light blue paint. The interior was also blue and in the same faded, worn condition. Under the hood, the 440 ran, but looked about as you’d expect from a 42-year-old engine with minimal cosmetic upkeep. To give the Satellite a makeover, VHT stripped out the engine and interior and used their line of spray paints to restore everything from the engine bay, block, and exhaust manifolds, to the dash, seats, door panels, headliner, and carpet. Yes, all of that happened with just paint, including the carpet. It’s a good thing VHT documented all of this on their YouTube channel, because we would’ve had a hard time believing that interior was once blue. Check out the before and after pics.

In the end, the guys block sanded the body and filled any dings, then rolled it into a budget spray booth built from 2x4s and plastic, and sprayed it in Dulpi-Color Chrome Yellow with Metallic Clearcoat, paired with Jet Black accents. After a little wet sanding and polishing to bring out the shine, the results are quite impressive, especially considering how affordable the whole makeover was.

Fast Facts
Engine: stock 440 big-block, 4-bbl
Trans: stock 727 TorqueFlite
Suspension/Chassis: OEM
Brakes: stock disc and drum
Wheels: 18×8 and 20×8.5 Boss Motorsports Style 338

1972 Plymouth Satellite 11/52
1972 Plymouth Satellite Before And After Poster 15/52

1964 Plymouth Valiant Violent Valiant Builder: Hot Rod Chassis & CycleCelebrating their 10-year anniversary in 2014, Hot Rod Chassis and Cycle announced the formalization of their “Race Car Division” as the Hot Rod Chassis & Cycle Skunkworks. Though the shop has always been centered around 1964 and earlier hot rods and customs, the race car division has always been a little under the radar. Kevin Tully joked that it was their Skunkworks top-secret stuff that goes ridiculously fast while still keeping the shop’s vintage style intact.

The first official car to come from the new HRCC Skunkworks is this ’64 Plymouth known as the Violent Valiant (No relation to Reline Gaugework’s ’69 Valiant, or Mopar Muscle’s Violent Valiant ’68 Plymouth by the same name). We have to say, we’ve never seen a second-gen Valiant look so aggressive. But why a Valiant in the first place? Tully explained, “While at autocross and road course events, we noticed that they were dominated by GM cars, a few Fords, and almost no Mopars. We decided that we wanted the first Skunkworks car to be unique.” Fair enough, but a Valiant? “Well, it was actually already sitting around the shop,” Tully laughed.

Taking inspiration from vintage Trans-Am racers of all makes and models, the HRCC team formed a vintage-inspired identity for the body including a custom lift-off fiberglass hood from VFN with an AAR ‘Cuda scoop, a front valence and air dam reminiscent of a Shelby GT350R, and a ’69 Camaro rear ducktail spoiler to break up the airflow over the sloping trunk. Underneath the skin things get very serious. HRCC hacked off the subframes and built a full-tube chassis with their own road race suspension.

The interior has a very Trans-Am feel with its array of Stewart-Warner gauges and vintage style warning lights in a custom steel dash paired with stock door panels and low-back seats.

Fast Facts
Engine: 528ci Indy Maxx aluminum block with Indy EZ-440 heads, K1 Technologies crank and rods, Wiseco pistons, Hilborn EFI-R injection with Holley HP computer and harness, COMP Cams valvetrain, Crane Ignition, distributor, and wires
Trans: Temec Magnum T56 six-speed with QuickTime bellhousing, McLeod RST twin-disc clutch and hydraulic throwout bearing, Hurst BlackMagic shifter and stick
Suspension/Chassis: full-tube chassis with RideTech StongArms on HRCC/Skunkworks tubular 4130 cradle, RideTech TQ coilovers with HyperCoil springs, Hoerr Racing 1.5-inch hollow sway bar, and Flaming River race rack up front. HRCC/Skunkworks Mk4 rear suspension with Hotchkis lower links, RideTech TQ coilovers with HyperCoil springs, HRCC 9-inch with Moser aluminum centersection, 3.73 gears, WaveTrac diff, and Moser 35-spline race axles in the rear
Brakes: Alcon 6P race calipers with Hawk pads on 13-inch rotors up front, Alcon 4P in the rear
Wheels & Tires: 17×9.5 and 17×11 American Racing 200s with 275/40 and 315/35 Nitto NT05

1964 Plymouth Valiant 16/52

Taking inspiration from vintage Trans-Am racers of all makes and models, the HRCC team formed a vintage-inspired identity…

2015 Challenger 392 Scat Pack Rapture Builder: RM Motorsports

No matter how long the build time line, so many SEMA build stories end with everything coming right down to the wire with barely enough time to get the car to Las Vegas and loaded into the show. That was compounded with the AMSOIL-sponsored Rapture Challenger since there was an extremely short amount of time to make the build a reality, only a couple of months.

Keep in mind the Rapture is based off the ’15 Challenger, a 392ci Scat Pack model, no less. In fact, it was only the second car off the assembly line. When Chrysler put the word out that it was going to donate this car for a SEMA build, 50 shops jumped at the chance. The winning design proposal was submitted by Pfaff Designs and Downforce Motorsports and they took delivery of the Challenger in September. That left about six weeks to finish it before the 2014 SEMA show in November.

Built specifically to be an Optima Ultimate Street Car Association competitor, Pfaff’s design is a mix of vintage and modern visual themes. Though the overall look is definitely Trans-Am and modern rally and road-race inspired, the aggressive paint scheme is actually a nod to the “Candymatic” paint schemes used by the Ramchargers on their record-breaking Dodge Super Bees. Also designed by Pfaff, the PPG waterbourne Plum Insane tint sprayed by That’s Minor Customs is an amped-up Plum Crazy Purple.

The stock Challenger’s aggression is dialed up already thanks to the Scat Pack, which has a more aggressive front splitter and decklid spoiler, but RM Motorsports crafted an even more aero package to push the Challenger into the road at top speed, and added hood heat extractors and unique front air ducts to complement the Hella lights. Underneath, an Air Lift Performance air suspension adds cornering prowess while lowering the Challenger’s center of gravity.

As for the name, Pfaff says he looked for something that was as genre-busting as the “show car meets street car meets race car” that he wanted the Challenger to capture. Blondie’s 1981 hit Rapture came to mind since it changed the way many people viewed the established rules.

Fast Facts Engine: stock 485hp “Apache” 392ci Hemi with shaker, Kooks headers
Trans: Tremec T6060 six-speed with McLeod RST Street Twin Clutch and Barton Industries shifter with Flat Stick
Suspension/Chassis: Air Lift Performance suspension with Petty’s Garage front and rear sway bars and tower braces, Speedlogix rear control arms, and sway bar endlinks
Brakes: stock Scat Pack Brembos
Wheels & Tires: 20×9.5 and 20×11 Forgeline RB3, 275/40 and 315/35 Nitto NT05

2015 Dodge Challenger Scatpack Rapture 20/52

…the Rapture is based off the 2015 Challenger, a 392ci Scat Pack model, no less. In fact, it was only the second car off the assembly line.

1968 Dodge Charger Maximus Builder: Nelson Racing Engines

While it sounds unreasonable for a street car, Nelson Racing Engines has become known for creating four-digit horsepower twin-turbo engines that are actually surprisingly driveable on the street, thanks to lots of tuning and real-world testing, along with the ability to adjust the power in-car from 600 to 2,000-plus, thanks to controllable boost and dual-octane fuel systems. That’s not just a one-off deal either; NRE sells those engines as packages to drop into your dream machine. Well, “drop-in” is a bit liberal considering the packaging requirements, but if you need help there, NRE can also provide the dream machine too via the Nelson Supercars side of the business.

This extreme, yet surprisingly subtle ’68 Charger is one of those dream machines. The unbelievably straight bare steel body is impressive, but it’s even more so if you realize how much modification has been performed. Most notably, the whole car is 6 inches wider. Check out that upper body line to the window frame; no standard Charger is that beefy. Also, note that the quarter-panel endcap is part of the body rather than a separate piece, and how tight those bumpers are to the body. We’d love to point more modifications out, but Nelson and his crew blended old and new steel together so seamlessly that without a stock Charger sitting beside it, it’s almost impossible to discern the changes. Seriously, you cannot find a trace of weld or splices anywhere; every panel truly looks like it was one piece of stamped panel. How much work does that take? Over 2,000 hours to date, and it’s still not ready for the coat of clear that will suffice as paint. “I have to give credit to my crew,” Nelson said. “I have rounded up some of the very best metal craftsman in the country to work on this car.”

Maximus actually had its street debut just a few months before SEMA, as well as its big screen debut; it’s one of the hero cars in the upcoming Fast 7 movie. While it’s still in the shakedown stages, once Maximus is complete it should be capable of 8-second quarter-mile times and a top speed of 200 mph.

Fast Facts
Engine: 2,000hp all-aluminum 9.4L Hemi with Nelson twin-turbo system
Trans: Tremec T56
Suspension/Chassis: custom coilover front suspension with extra tall forged drop spindles, splined sway bars, and triangulated four-link rear suspension with adjustable instant center
Brakes: Wilwood six-piston front and rear
Wheels & Tires: custom solid billet wheels with Mickey Thompson tires for now. Full slicks for testing

1968 Dodge Charger 24/52
1968 Dodge Charger Taillight 25/52
1968 Dodge Charger 9.4l Hemi Engine Nelson Twin Turbo System 29/52

Maximus actually had its street debut just a few months before SEMA, as well as its big screen debut; it’s one of the hero cars in the upcoming Fast 7 movie.

1970 Dodge Challenger Less Is More Builder: Pure Vision Design

Pure Vision Design actually had three cars on display at SEMA, all of them on 15-inch wheels. One was a vintage-style racer, but the other two, including this Challenger were remarkable for their lack of custom parts. In fact, this Challenger may very well have been the mildest vintage car in the entire show.

That doesn’t mean it lacked for attention, though. It actually had a ton of feedback, way more than builder Steve Strope ever expected. He heard nothing but positive reviews and stories about cars people remembered from their youth. It’s that kind of car.

Notwithstanding, don’t mistake it for a restoration with some Cragars on it. Strope’s version of Day 2 focuses on choosing the right modern equipment to augment a nostalgic car and make it even better than they were without changing the vibe. For example, the body is stock other than the ’71 sidescoops, but that color is actually ’11 Charger Toxic Orange Pearlcoat. It looks so surprisingly era-appropriate that we didn’t even question it. The Hemi is actually a mild stroker to make good torque, but has a small cam for easy driveability. The stock-appearing engine bay has throwbacks like the ACCEL Super Coil and Super Stock wires, but also a Billet Specialties Tru Trac system to spin modern accessories, like the Vintage Air compressor. Underneath, the chassis benefits from a full bolt-on Hotchkis suspension package. Inside it looks completely stock other than the B&M shifter, but there is a hidden stereo with speaker holes drilled in the door panels. Everything has been Dynamat covered for isolation.

“It’s cool to have all the high-dollar extreme stuff, but it’s just not necessary to have a cool car,” Strope told us. “You can take advantage of all the über Pro Touring nonsense and subtly integrate it into a stock-appearing car. You don’t have to be on track with it to enjoy it; you can have a throwback street machine, it doesn’t ruin the vibe, and will drive better than they ever did. Not everything has to be a watershed car. It’s not trying to be, it’s just a nice car.” We guess that just shows the power of checking the right boxes.

Fast Facts
Engine: 472ci Hemi, ACCEL Super Coil and Super Stock plug wires, Billet Specialties Tru Trac accessory drive
Trans: A727 three-speed automatic with Gear Vendors overdrive
Suspension/Chassis: Hotchkis TVS system minus subframe connectors, Firm Feel steering box, Dana 60 with 3.55 gears
Brakes: stock discs and drums
Wheels & Tires: 15×6 and 15×8 Cragar S/S wheels, 215/65 and 275/60 BFGoodrich Radial T/A

1970 Dodge Challenger 30/52
1970 Dodge Challenger 472ci Hemi Engine 34/52

You can take advantage of all the über Pro Touring nonsense and subtly integrate it into a stock-appearing car. You don’t have to be on track with it to enjoy it…

1970 Plymouth Superbird A Bird With More Bite Builder: Restorations by Julius

Yet another near-stock Mopar that stopped us in our tracks was this ’70 Superbird in the Hotchkis booth. As highly as most Mopar lovers regard these cars now, it’s amusing to remember that in 1970 they were considered a bit extreme for the average muscle car buyer. Many of the 1,920 Superbirds built in 1970 to pass NASCAR’s new homologation rule of one car to be sold for every two manufacturer’s dealers in the United States, were hard to sell. In fact, some were converted back to ’70 Road Runners just to move them; and of those that kept their aero work, quite a few lingered on the lot as long as 1972.

Considering that the only reason the street-legal versions of the Plymouth Superbird—and its sibling the Dodge Daytona—even existed was for NASCAR racing, it’s odd to think that they need help in the handling department, but it’s oh so true. While the racers had serious suspension packages, the street cars were essentially the same Road Runner package underneath. Not terrible for its day, but certainly lacking now.

This particular 440 six-pack Superbird was a product of West Coast Mopar restoration expert Julius Steuer of Restorations by Julius. Known for his meticulous detail and for being a real stickler for OEM correctness, the fact that Steuer was willing to bolt on Hotchkis’ Total Vehicle System (TVS) to such a rare and coveted street machine says quite a bit about both the quality and ease of installation of the parts. You can be sure he wouldn’t go beyond pure bolt-on parts for a car like this. The TVS package nets new and larger diameter sway bars with poly bushings, heavier-rate leaf springs, subframe connectors, and geometry-corrected A-arms with improved caster/camber angles. To give it a Julius touch, though, all the parts are somewhat disguised for a stock-ish look. The result is a very correct looking and feeling Superbird that will be much more enjoyable to drive. Hotchkis was so pleased with the result that the theme of the booth was “Time Machine.” It asks the question, what if the Superbird had come factory-equipped with Hotchkis suspension and adjustable shocks?!

Fast Facts
Engine: 440ci Six Pack
Trans: A727 TorqueFlite three-speed automatic
Suspension/Chassis: Hotchkis TVS
Brakes: OEM disc and drum
Wheels & Tires: 15×8 and 15×10 Wheel Vintiques Mopar Rally with 235/60 and 275/60 BFGoodrich Radial T/A

1970 Plymouth Superbird 35/52
1970 Plymouth Superbird 440ci Six Pack Engine 39/52

It asks the question, what if the Superbird had come factory-equipped with Hotchkis suspension and adjustable shocks?!

2015 Dodge Challenger T/A Concept Builder: Mopar Performance

Mopar Performance came on strong this year at SEMA with several performance cars to get the faithful frothy over the future. This Sublime Green Challenger represents a serious street fighter package that is a very real possibility for showrooms. Dipping into the parts bin for both production and factory performance bolt-ons already available, the T/A pays homage to the original 1970 version we all love so much, specifically Sam Posey’s #22 Challenger. The color palette of Sublime Green and matte black is the most obvious nod, but the rest of the upgrades are all about function. If you’re into stripped-down, no-nonsense muscle cars, this is your Mopar.

Mopar Performance says that the race-inspired design will focus on weight reduction as well as increased chassis rigidity and a more visceral driving experience. As we go down the list making up the T/A package, it reads exactly how we’d want Dodge to build one: 392ci Hemi, Viper-inspired SRT hood with hoodpins and functional cold air induction, air dam and splitter, Gurney Lip rear spoiler, Air Catcher headlights, lightweight 20-inch Hellcat wheels with sticky 295-series tires, D-shaped Mopar steering wheel, carbon-fiber race seats with harnesses, rollbar, front and rear strut tower braces, front and rear coilover kit, upgraded sway bars, rear seat delete, Pistol-Grip shifter, 180-mph speedo, side-exit exhaust, and Brembo six-piston calipers. Yes, build it exactly like this, please.

Currently the T/A is just a concept, but as far we can see, there’s no reason it couldn’t be a reality in short order. Maybe if we all make enough noise, Ma Mopar will hear us and make the Challenger T/A an orderable reality.

Fast Facts
Engine: 392ci “Scat Pack” Hemi with shaker cold-air induction
Trans: six-speed manual
Suspension/Chassis: four-point rollbar, front and rear strut tower braces, front and rear coilover kit, upgraded sway bars
Brakes: four-piston Brembo
Wheels & Tires: 20×9.5 Hellcat with 275/40 Pirelli P Zero Nero

2015 Dodge Challenger Ta 40/52
2015 Dodge Challenger Ta Interior Rollerbar 44/52

As we go down the list making up the T/A package, it reads exactly how we’d want Dodge to build one…

2014 SRT Dodge Challenger 50th Anniversary Petty Challenger Builder: Petty’s Garage

To mark one of the most significant anniversaries in the Mopar world, the 50th anniversary of the debut of the 426ci Hemi, Petty’s Garage (PG) decided to build the ultimate version of one of their specially prepped new Challengers. Beginning with a ’14 SRT, PG essentially threw their entire catalog of exclusive parts at the car to create something that can impress on all fronts.

Of course the most obvious changes are the custom BASF Petty Blue paint paired with PG knock-off Forgeline wheels, custom stainless mesh grille, and Gurney Lip rear spoiler, but the fully polished Whipple 4.0 supercharger peeking through the clear plexi in the center of the hood is what had people most excited. That monster blower sits atop a third-gen Hemi, which, of course, displaces 426ci, and huffs out enough boost to bring output to an honest 1,000 hp.

Having 1,000 hp in a Challenger is good, but it also means you need to upgrade everything else to handle the brute force. PG beefed up the driveline with 1,400hp axles, an aluminum driveshaft with a safety loop, and a McLeod clutch. For handling, a PG tubular K-member was outfitted with adjustable coilovers, adjustable sway bars, and poly bushings. PG wants customers to really use these cars, so inside it gets a PG rollcage, rear seat delete, Sabelt carbon-fiber race seats and harness, and Spec NASCAR gauges on the A-pillar. We didn’t get a chance to hear it run, but with Kooks long-tube headers and that NASCAR boom tube side-exit exhaust pipe, you can be assured that it will make its presence known.

Fast Facts
Engine: 1,000hp aluminum 426ci Gen III Hemi with forged rotating assembly and Whipple 4.0 supercharger, PG air intake
Trans: Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual with McLeod clutch and Hurst shifter
Suspension/Chassis: PG tubular K-member, adjustable coilovers, adjustable sway bars, poly bushings, rollcage
Brakes: four-pistom Brembo
Wheels & Tires: 20×9.5 and 20×10.5 PG Forgeline knock-offs with 275/40 and 315/35 Continental ExtremeContact DW

2014 Dodge Srt Challenger 45/52

1957 Plymouth Savoy Suddenly Builder: Jim TravisWe included Suddenly in our list just because we love this unique car and its history so much, but we recently learned from the guys at Hedman Hedders that its story isn’t over. Back in 1957, it was announced that the eighth annual NASCAR International Safety and Performance Trials would include an Experimental category for standing and flying mile record runs on Daytona beach. Intended as a class for the OEMs, it also allowed for privateers. Wally Parks and Ray Brock at Hot Rod magazine jumped at the chance and managed to pull some strings and “borrow” a new ’57 Savoy. At Dean Moon’s shop, a Hilborn-injected 448hp 392ci Hemi originally intended for a dragster was dropped in, a rollbar was installed, as well as Firestone racing tires, and Bob Hedman built a set of headers. All that happened in the space of two weeks, and the Hot Rod magazine Spcl was dubbed “Suddenly,” in reference to the ’57 Plymouth ad campaign, “Suddenly, it’s 1960.”

1957 Plymouth Savoy 392ci First Gen Hemi Engine 49/52

At Daytona, Suddenly ran a best of 166.898 mph with a two-way average of 160.175 mph to beat the OEMs and set a class record. Later at Bonneville with 70 percent nitro in the tank and a special additive, Suddenly ran a best of 183 mph in an attempt to set the D/Fuel Coupe and Sedan record, but the engine let go. They didn’t get the record, but Suddenly had gone faster than any stock-bodied American car and in the process showed what hot rodders could do.

After that, Suddenly went into daily driver service, eventually being sold, and was lost to time. In 1995, Parks decided to build a clone and enlisted original builder Jim Travis. This first clone was almost identical, except it was a two-door sedan, as a suitable hardtop could not be found. At the 1995 USFRA World of Speed, Travis drove the clone to a 147mph pass but tuning issues prevented additional runs. Later, Parks made 131mph passes at El Mirage and Muroc. Brock was never satisfied with the sedan, so he tracked down a hardtop and had Travis transfer all the parts from the sedan. Clone number two has spent most of its life on display in the Petersen Automotive Museum or the NHRA Motorsports Museum—until this year, that is!

Fast Facts
Engine: 392ci first-gen Hemi, Hilborn injection, E85 fuel
Trans: four-speed manual
Suspension/Chassis: OEM plus Traction Master bars
Brakes: OEM
Wheels & Tires: Firestone 7.10/7.60-15 on stock wheels up front, 8.90-15 in the back on widened wheels

1957 Plymouth Savoy 50/52
1957 Plymouth Savoy Interior 51/52
1957 Plymouth Savoy Undercarriage Exhaust


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Posted in Industry News, Mopar

Unrestored Survivor 1960 Corvette Might Be Most Original in Existence

1960 Chevrolet Corvette Front Side View  

Standing by his ’60 survivor with 11,870 miles on the odometer, Gary Skinner told us, “I rode in it when it was brand-new. The owner put it up in 1968 and didn’t drive it again.” All the while, Skinner waited for his chance. He grew up with the original owner Ed Graye, a schoolteacher from the little town of West Frankfort, Illinois.

“He ordered the car just the way he wanted it, with the big, fuel-injected 283 and three-speed manual instead of the four-speed ’cause he wanted to drag race it.” Of course, drag racing in those days didn’t translate to just the strip. “Just local stuff, out on the blacktop. We didn’t have dragstrips back then,” Skinner remarked. After about two weeks Graye realized he didn’t have the big (290-horse) fuelie. He had what Skinner called the “small fuelie,” rated at 250 horsepower. So, Graye went back to the original dealer, 30 miles away in Eldorado, Missouri, and found out Chevrolet could not supply the big-horse fuelie. If he couldn’t have the 290-horse 283, Graye wanted something he would be able to work on,” Skinner recalled.

That something would be the big-horse dual-quad 283. But, what could be done now? According to Skinner, the dealer actually loaded Graye’s ’60 Corvette on a trailer and towed it back to the factory in St. Louis, 100 miles away. At the St. Louis assembly plant, they pulled the 283 and installed a 270-horsepower dual-quad 283. This installation required installing a new tachometer, a bigger radiator, and other items specific to this high-performance small-block.

1960 Chevrolet Corvette Front View Storage

In 1986, Gary Skinner purchased this survivor ’60 Corvette, stored in a pole barn in his neighbor’s backyard.

1960 Chevrolet Corvette Rear Side View

From 1975 to 1977, weather took a toll on the ’60 Corvette, seen here parked outside in West Frankfort, Missouri, where winters can be cruel.

Happy now, Graye drove his ’60 Vette “real hard” until 1968. Skinner doesn’t know why Graye parked his dual-quad 283 in a shed on his property. Skinner suspects a driving incident had something to do with the car’s retirement. “He told me at 150 [mph] the left front tire went down and he almost flipped it. That was in 1968. He never drove it again,” recalled Skinner. But once the hot Corvette got parked, Skinner tried to buy the car “a bunch of times” over the next 18 years. Unfortunately, Graye had made up his mind not to sell.

In 1981 or 1982, Skinner, who was Graye’s neighbor for all those years, helped extricate the Vette from the shed. “It sat outside for two years. That’s what took the toll on it.” Next, Graye built a pole barn in his yard to store the Vette. People “knew it was there and tried to buy it for years and years. When he got ready to sell it, I was third on his list. His sister didn’t want it. His son had just started a new business and couldn’t afford it. So I ended up with it.”

The year was 1986. The price was $7,500. Skinner wasn’t into Corvettes and didn’t know much about prices. But, he turned down $25,000 for the ’60 model three weeks later at the Chicago Vette Fest at McCormick Place. “There, all the Corvette people got to see it. My intentions were to restore it. After I talked to them they said don’t you dare restore that car. Keep it as it, so that’s what I did.”

Over the past 28 years, Skinner has become a real Corvette person, trailering and showing his ’60 Vette at big shows in Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

“Every place I take it, it gets something. It’s just an eye-catcher,” relayed Skinner. And what a good steward Skinner has been of this Corvette survivor. In 1986, the odometer stood at 11,110. Over the next 28 years, Skinner added just 760 miles driving it on and off his trailer, motoring in parades, and on short hops to shows in close proximity to his home. He starts the 283 “every once in a while to keep it lubricated.” The result is perhaps the lowest mileage and most original survivor left in the world. “I’ve messed with Corvettes for quite a while now. I think this Corvette is probably the most original ’60 model in existence.”

1960 Chevrolet Corvette Interior

Skinner pulled off the protective plastic on the driver-side to reveal the original seats.

1960 Chevrolet Corvette Engine View

The Chevrolet dealer sent the ’60 model, after only two weeks of street driving in the hands of the retail buyer, back to St. Louis. The factory removed and replaced the fuel injected 250-horsepower 283 with a 270-horsepower dual-quad 283

By:Jerry Heasley

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Posted in General Motors, Interesting Stuff

Tips for Conquering The Swap Meet


Swap Meet season is coming up fast, so it’s time to pull out the old wish list, see what’s missing in your latest project and make some space on the garage wall for another porcelain sign. Or, it may be time to trailer that barn find and round up all of the classic car parts laying around your workshop to help pay for your next automotive masterpiece. Whether you plan to buy, sell, or do a little of both, the Swap Meet is the place to do it.

Of course, part of the fun of going to a swap meet is finding the perfect pieces for your ride, or meeting someone as passionate about your wares as yourself. The other fun part is haggling for a perfect price that leaves both buyer and seller satisfied. So here are a few tips to help both the buyer and the seller get good prices and enjoy their day.


Buyers – At a swap meet, haggling is not only encouraged, it is expected. Most sellers will be happy to knock a few dollars off the price as long as you are friendly, respectful and don’t try to low-ball them. Low-balling makes you come across as ignorant, crass and someone that the seller may not want to deal with. Think of the amount that you are willing to pay for an item and go a little lower than that. Usually the seller will give you a counter offer and you can go back and forth until you both settle on a price somewhere in between. Also, don’t be afraid to walk away from an item if it is too expensive for you.

Puyallup_4x4_Swapmeet_02Sellers – A good rule of thumb is to think of the minimum amount you will take for your items and price them a little higher, but not so high as to turn off your customers immediately. Remember that you are competing with smartphones and internet access, but don’t let that scare you from getting a fair price for your stuff. When you see someone interested in one of your items, start up a friendly chat with them. Chances are they are either working on a project or have an interesting story to tell about why they are attracted to the item. Also, don’t be offended if they offer you a price at half of what you are asking – every haggling session has to start somewhere. Just counter offer with what you feel is a fair price and go from there.

Hemming’s Calendar of Swap Meets HERE

Posted in Events