Here’s How to Fight the EPA Ban on Constructing a Race Car

Sema Camaro Save Cars

If last Monday’s announcement that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) proposed a regulation to prohibit the conversion of any street-driven vehicle into a racecar left you feeling helpless, here’s a link to petition the White House against the proposed EPA regulation, and fight back.

Here’s a quick refresher of what the proposed regulation is about. SEMA has issued a press release informing the public that the EPA is aiming to make it illegal to convert automobiles originally designed for on-road use into racecars, even though such conversions have been done since the dawn of the automobile – it’s called improving the breed.

002 EPA Racecar Ban SEMA Petition Oppose Sign

Under the EPA’s proposed rule, it would also be illegal to sell any performance-related products for those cars. The EPA’s proposal would have a devastating impact on motorsports since many types of racing rely on production vehicles that have been modified for use strictly at the track.

In recent affairs, SEMA battled proposed legislation to register all racecars. Isn’t there another group of enthusiasts that say registration is the first step to confiscation?

Now is your chance to voice your opinion and protect our beloved American hobby! Follow the link below to the official petition, put forth by the SEMA Action Network and protect the right to build racecars.

Ask the EPA to Withdraw its Proposal Now!

By: John Gilbert

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Posted in Industry News, Interesting Stuff

The Official Super Chevy Show Returns to Memphis!

2016 Super Chevy Show Memphis Burnout

The clock is rapidly ticking down until the official Super Chevy Show kicks off its season, returning to Memphis Tennessee on April 8-10. The first of an exciting 6-show lineup, the Super Chevy magazine staff will be on hand at Memphis International Raceway (MIR), handing out special Editor’s Choice awards to a select few car show entries.

One lucky entrant may even have their car selected to become a feature story in the pages of Super Chevy magazine! And, don’t forget the coveted Super Chevy winner’s jackets.

All of this year’s events will feature the massive car show Super Chevy Show patrons have come to know and love, and classes will cover everything Chevy-powered, from original restorations and restomods to street rods and customs.

In order to tide your Bow Tie addiction over until the show, scroll down and check out some of the coverage from last year’s spectacular Memphis Super Chevy Show!

Planning on coming out? There are several ways to enjoy a Super Chevy Show … register your vehicle to drag race, enter your car in the professionally judged car show, or display your car just for fun, without the pressure of being judged. No Chevy just yet? Never fear, take in the excitement as a spectator and pick up some ideas for your future project.

By: Evan Perkins

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Posted in Events

Watch Our Valentines 14 Day 10% OFF Sale Video

Save 10% off with orders you place on our online store, use the Valentine’s Day Discount Code: Valentine2016


Posted in Industry News

Hellcat 6.2L Hemi Engine Swaps

The First 707hp Hellcat 6.2L Hemi Engine Swaps, and What You Need to Know For Yours

Let the hellfire be unleashed! You knew with 707 hp available in various Hellcat offerings, these 6.2L Gen III Hemi engines would start showing up in projects, and the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas confirmed what we all knew would be a wave of Hellcat awesomeness; we counted four Hellcat conversions, each with unique approaches to their installs. Wild Boar’s six-wheel “Hellhog” Jeep Wrangler and the River Raider/Hauk Hellcat Rubicon Jeep joined the recently completed Roadkill General Mayhem 1968 Charger and Gas Monkey Garage’s 1967 Dart featuring 6.2L of supercharged fury.

Roadkill General Mayhem Hellcat Charger Drags2/15The Roadkill General Mayhem 1968 Charger with its retrofitted Hellcat conversion. We say retrofitted because Diversified Creations in Michigan incorporated every last component and controller, from the gas tank to taillights and even the touchscreen from a pre-production 2015 Hellcat Charger into General Mayhem.

General Mayhem 1968 Charger
If you watch HOT ROD’s Roadkill episodes on the Motor Trend channel, you know about the 1968 Charger and its Hellcat install, where Diversified Creations ( in Brighton, Michigan, took almost every component and the complete wiring harnesses from a 2015 Hellcat Charger to convert David Freiburger’s 1968 Charger. Even the taillights out of the Hellcat Charger were utilized. We mention the taillights because the Hellcat engine control module (ECM) needed to recognize the factory taillights were hooked to the 2015 Charger’s body control module (BCM) and read the exact resistance of the LEDs to help control the myriad functions of the engine and transmission. This approach of packaging every single component from the gas tank to cooling system and every last module without modifying the wiring harness was done due to the circumstances related to time and risk factors.

“We were first [to do this swap] and only had three weeks,” said Diversified’s Mike Copeland. “We didn’t want to risk something not functioning, particularly because of the automatic transmission.”

02 Roadkill General Mayhem Charger Hellcat Engine3/15The engine shot of General Mayhem shows the expected Hellcat setup with stock coolant surge tank, intercooler tank and pump, power center, and radiator with its stock fan shroud. The NOS nitrous plumbing and progressive controller are definitely not part of the Hellcat’s production features.

To get the engine to physically fit in the B-body, Diversified Creations notched the 1968 Charger’s K-member and cut off the factory mounts for solid units. The ZF eight-speed Torqueflite is rather large, requiring mods to the trans tunnel, trimming and reinforcing the torsion-bar crossmember, and fabricating a center carrier bearing support for the custom driveshaft replacing the CV-joint output shaft arrangement of the stock Hellcat driveline. Pacesetter headers had to be used in place of stock exhaust because the Charger’s torsion bars were right where the stock Hellcat headers needed to be.

In a departure from using every last Hellcat component, a Moser 9-inch with 35-spline axles and aluminum spool handled the rear-axle assembly. With the use of the Moser 9-inch, Copeland disabled the ABS, StabiliTrak, and traction control.

03 Roadkill General Meyhem Charger Hellcat Abs Brake Controller4/15To trick the ECM into thinking it’s controlling a stock Hellcat with its many features, Diversified even installed and wired in the ABS brake controller, though it doesn’t control anything. Removing it from the overall system did not allow the engine to start.

Copeland also chose to integrate the Hellcat intercooler and coolant-circulating pump for the supercharger, which meant packaging both the first intercooler in front of the air-conditioning condenser and the second intercooler that looks similar to a heater core. This gave extra capacity that two intercoolers have over using a single unit.

Roadkill’s David Freiburger noted that, in general, Hellcats gain rpm so quickly they run up to the rev-limiter between shifts. Changing axle ratios from 4.11 to 3.70 in the 9-inch helped, with the quickest times of 1.66 second to the 60-foot mark, 7.02 at 101 mph at the eighth-mile, and 10.90 at 125.24 mph at the quarter-mile for the Hellcat-equipped General Mayhem.

Roadkill’s 1968 Dodge Charger “General Mayhem”

Engine Source: Pre-production Charger Hellcat
Transmission: Hellcat eight-speed automatic
Engine Control Unit: Hellcat modified
Transmission Control Unit: Hellcat
Body Control Module: Hellcat modified
Wiring: Adapted by Mike Copeland at Diversified
Calibration: Production calibration
Motor Mounts: Built by Diversified
Exhaust: Pacesetter headers for 2015 Chrysler 300
Radiator: Hellcat
Fuel Pump: Hellcat
Air Filter: Modified production
Does Exhaust Have Catalysts: No
Cost: Three techs for three weeks at $85 per hour, plus brand-new Hellcat Charger

04 Gas Monkey Garage 1967 Dodge Dart Hellcat5/15The Hellcat-powered Gas Monkey Garage 1967 Dodge Dart reposing at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The high placement of the engine necessitated relieving the hood for the air plenum. This was a moderately modified Dart with fabricated front-half and two-speed Powerglide transmission before Diablosport adapted the Hellcat engine and controllers that took three weeks to complete.

Gas Monkey Garage 1967 Dodge Dart
We asked Diablosport’s lead calibrator, Brian McMahan, about its tune for the Gas Monkey Garage 1967 Dart, which took a unique approach to this particular conversion. Diablosport started a fabricated chassis from the firewall forward and Chevy Powerglide racing transmission.

As received by Diablosport, with just three days until it was needed for the RoadkillFlashlight Drags event in Pontiac, Michigan, McMahan and electronics programmer Jonathan Rodriguez had little time to spare. Since this was strictly an eighth-mile drag car, most of the functions monitored by the Hellcat’s ECM wouldn’t be used in the car.

McMahan has been messing with tuning programs for Chrysler products for almost 15 years, so Diablosport knew going in that, in conjunction with Rodriguez, it had the people needed who knew what commands to program to make it all work, and how to package it all. In three days.

Only the ECM, BCM, and communicator for the “start” command were needed, so rather than shutting off certain unnecessary functions, the Diablosport team chose to erase the ECM and start from scratch, adding only those functions necessary to make this Dart haul.

05 Gas Monkey Garage 1967 Dodge Dart Engine Bay Hellcat6/15Besides the high location of the engine, it has also been pushed back into the chassis, requiring firewall mods. Unlike the Roadkill Charger, which utilized a stock Hellcat radiator and shroud, the Gas Monkey Garage Dart uses a Ron Davis–built aluminum radiator.

Things like the ABS, anti-theft, radio frequency control, and center console touchscreen were left out of the program. The Sentry Key Immobilizer Module, or SKIM module, which recognizes only coded keys so the use of a non-chipped key won’t work, or a hotwire theft attempt can’t happen, could not be turned off. So the BCM was programmed not to look for certain things like the SKIM module, in addition to ABS, radio frequency control, dash controls, and the center console touchscreen functions.

To start off, Diablosport fit the stock wiring harnesses into the Dart structure, which meant eliminating, shortening, and, in some cases, creating new wiring from the existing harness. Says McMahan, “We laid everything out and then figured what we needed and didn’t need, then started wiring the car. Most of the factory harness was used, but it looks different because a lot of it was cut down. But we did keep the black and red key option to shut down for the black valet key.”

06 Gas Monkey Garage 1967 Dodge Dart Underdash Hellcat7/15This underdash shot reveals the ECM and associated wiring. When Diablosport received the Dart, it was learned that Gas Monkey Garage had not installed any of the stock Hellcat wiring. Diablosport used one of its modified PCMs to finally get the Dart to fire, essentially tricking the computer to work in a stand-alone mode.

The problem with pulling the engine and transmission out of a wrecked Hellcat with an engine controller and wiring harness is that it won’t start unless the coils and injectors get the “OK To Start” signal from the BCM wire. So while everything seemed to be wired and installed correctly, the Hellcat Dart initially would not start.

It was determined two other modules were necessary to allow the system to run out of its native environment, plus a lot of fiddling with the ECM and starter key function before the Hellcat came to life. The complicated reprogramming required Diablosport use a 2015-and-newer Hellcat ECM; it took more than 13 hours trying different modules and wiring changes to get the Dart to fire up. In total, it took less than three days to install and then dial everything in.

07 Gas Monkey Garage 1967 Dodge Dart Diablosport Hellcat8/15Diablosport incorporated the red key/black key valet key system feature of a stock Hellcat, while eliminating most of the functions found in a stock Hellcat it deemed unnecessary for a hot rod Dart like traction and stability control. The key system was necessary so the ECM would turn on the coils and injectors.

One unique feature of this build, which you probably won’t find on any other Hellcat conversion, is the ice-water-cooled supercharger aftercooler. Two lines circulating ice water run to the trunk, where the icebox is located, to super-cooled intake air temperatures in the supercharger for the short, eighth-mile blitzes. Any depletion of ice can be monitored and refilled between runs.

Troubles with the car were not isolated to programming. The transmission ultimately used three different torque converters before a 9-inch converter was deemed acceptable. The other converters were set up too loose, allowing the car to run up to 6,000 rpm quickly, hitting the rev-limiter, and essentially going into free-spin. That converter, and leaving the tune rather soft, kept the car from blowing off the tires. Says McMahan, “We were dealing with an alien environment, so we were trying things by the seat of our pants.”

08 Gas Monkey Garage 1967 Dodge Dart Diablosport Tuner Hellcat9/15Diablosport’s handheld programmers can be used to pro-custom tune with drag-and-drop functionality. Diablosport can send you a specific tune, which you drag and drop into the tuner, plug into your system, and be ready to go.

If you’re contemplating this swap, know that Diablosport will help you get through the hurdles so your car will run. You might have to send the modules to them in Florida so they it can configure them for the needed changes, but Diablosport says as long as you have the car wired correctly, it will create a custom tune for your specific conversion. And, of course, it recommends using its hand-held programmers and products to keep your Hellcat dreams from becoming nightmares.

Gas Monkey Garage’s 1967 Dodge Dart

Engine Source: Pre-production Charger Hellcat
Transmission: Powerglide two-speed automatic
Engine Control Unit: Hellcat modified
Transmission Control Unit: No
Body Control Module: Hellcat modified
Wiring: Adapted by Brian McMahan and Jonathan Rodriguez at Diablosport
Calibration: McMahan at Diablosport
Motor Mounts: Solid mounts by Gas Monkey Garage
Exhaust: Aftermarket headers
Radiator: Ron Davis aluminum
Fuel Pump: Hellcat
Air Filter: Modified production
Does Exhaust Have Catalysts: No
Cost: Hard to determine because two different shops worked on the car essentially in a thrash

09 Hellhog Jeep Wrangler Hellcat Rearend10/15Yes, Wild Boar’s “Hellhog” is a six-wheel Jeep Wrangler packing 800 hp of Hellcat goodness. Dakota Customs in Rapid City, South Dakota, provided the expertise to program the conversion. Utilizing the stock Jeep transmission necessitated finding a way to get the ECM’s body control and transmission modules to communicate without those Hellcat components and functions.

Wild Boar Hellcat Jeep Wrangler “Hellhog”
For the Wild Boar Hellcat-powered Jeep Wrangler “Hellhog,” the biggest obstacle was the interface between the Jeep’s transmission and Hellcat engine itself. We talked with Dan McKeag at Dakota Customs in Rapid City, South Dakota, to get a glimpse of what this Hellcat conversion entailed. McKeag had to reprogram the Hellcat ECM because Wild Boar wanted to keep the Jeep’s transmission and four-wheel-drive transfer case, which are run by an an older electronics management system that Chrysler is slowly phasing out—called GPEC Tech. The Hellcat uses the new and improved Chrysler Powernet Tech electrical architecture.

So the Jeep transmission control unit works with a modified Jeep WA580 or NAG1 transmission, which Dakota Customs sends out to Southern Hot Rod in Kenner, Louisiana, to completely rebuild to withstand the projected 1,000hp Hellcat punch. Dakota then reprograms it to function with the Jeep’s two-speed transfer case. It was also reprogrammed for an expected increase in power and torque and the use of low range. The Jeep’s body controller also needed to be reprogrammed, which McKeag estimated taking six hours to complete.

What makes the Hellhog conversion different from the others in this article is they wanted full functionality of all of the stock Wrangler features like ABS, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and so on. These features were all married to the control modules and aftermarket components like the Walbro dual fuel pump, which is made for supercharged Jeep Wrangler applications with a built-in return and recovery functions.

10 Hellhog Jeep Wrangler Hellcat Hood11/15To make for a more compelling presentation and to telegraph the Hellcat connection, Wild Boar incorporated the Hellcat hoodscoop arrangement to the stock Wrangler hood with surprisingly successful results.

Since Dakota has been installing Gen III Hemis into Jeeps for years, it installed its own engine mounting kit, which includes its unique motor mounts combining Dodge truck isolators with its own metal mounts. Borla manufacturers Dakota’s stainless, long-tube headers that include stock catalytic converters.

The transmission has been modified with a Viking Stage II kit so it can hold up to the eventual 1,000 hp Wild Boar plans on programming into the Wrangler. An aftermarket Northern Factory aluminum radiator stands in for the stock Jeep radiator.

Wild Boar wanted to be the first with a Jeep Hellcat conversion at the 2015 SEMA Show and fulfilled that with a lot of expense and wrangling involved. Since no Hellcat engines could be procured at the time, Wild Boar project coordinator John Hastings purchased a new Hellcat Challenger and had the engine and wiring plucked from it before two Hellcat engines became available after the fact. Dakota is now reinstalling the Hellhog engine back into the Challenger and has installed one of the other engines in the Hellhog.

Stripped Down? Or Keep Everything?
It’s interesting that Diablosport’s Brian McMahan feels keeping all or most of the functions inherent in a stock Hellcat electronic system would have been easier for them to program, while Dakota Custom’s Dan McKeag, who handled the Hellcat conversion in the Hellhog Jeep Wrangler, says running a stripped-down program with less integration of components and controls would be easiest. Maybe the takeaway is that either way it’s a relatively hard endeavor at this early stage of Hellcat histrionics.

11 Hellhog Jeep Wrangler Hellcat Interior12/15Another surprise is the completely factory-appearing interior, including starting and touchscreen functions. Wild boar is looking to make the Hellhog available to customers interested in a turnkey Hellcat Jeep.

Wild Boar Jeep Wrangler “Hellhog”

Engine Source: Production Hellcat Challenger
Transmission: Modified Challenger reprogramed to function with Jeep transfer case
Engine Control Unit: Hellcat modified
Transmission Control Unit: Hellcat modified
Body Control Module: Hellcat modified
Wiring: Adapted by Dan McKeag at Dakota Customs
Calibration: McKeag at Dakota
Motor Mounts: Dakota fabricated based on Dodge truck isolators
Exhaust: Hellcat
Radiator: Northern Factory aluminum
Fuel Pump: Malborough dual fuel pump
Air Filter: Aftermarket
Does Exhaust Have Catalysts: Yes
Cost: Prototype that absorbed programming time, which will be offset on any future conversions

12 Hauk Design Jeep Wrangler Hellcat13/15The Hauk Design Wrangler comes across as the most OE-looking of the conversions seen here, and is yet another company’s attempt to test the waters for interest in making a Hellcat-powered Wrangler available to interested customers.

Hauk Designs Hellcat Wrangler
The Hauk Designs Hellcat Wrangler was “SEMA complete” just in time for the show, but was not running until Dakota Custom’s McKeag performed the necessary programming magic at the 2015 SEMA Show. Chambersburg, Pennsylvania’s Hauk Designs performed all of the engine installation and other modifications that included upgraded driveshafts, Teraflex brakes, Bilstein performance shocks, 4:10 axle gears (with locking differentials), and a new 4:1 low-range transfer case. A heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz 5G-Tronic automatic needed to be integrated to the Hellcat engine through a reprogram of the transmission control unit.

McKeag brought a powertrain control module he reprogrammed from his shop with him to Las Vegas, installed it, then took one day to program the Jeep’s BCM. Hauk fired it up the next day, with high-fives all around. When Hellcat engines become more readily available, Hauk is also interested in making Hellcat-powered Jeeps for customers wanting a unique off-road hauler.

14 Hauk Design Jeep Wrangler Hellcat Emblem14/15

With both Wild Boar and Hauk feeling the waters for customer Hellcat Jeep builds, and Diablosport and Dakota Customs offering technical advice and components, it looks like we’re seeing the tip of the Hellcat zeitgeist.

13 Hauk Design Jeep Wrangler Hellcat Engine15/15The factory-appearing installation belies its custom origins. The ECM is neatly attached to the backside of the air-intake bracket that surrounds the air filter. Dakota Customs helped to get this conversion running for the first time during the SEMA Show.

Hauk Designs Hellcat Jeep Wrangler

Engine Source: Privately sourced direct replacement from Arizona
Transmission: Modified Challenger reprogramed to function with Jeep transfer case
Engine Control Unit: Hellcat modified
Transmission Control Unit: Hellcat modified
Body Control Module: Hellcat modified
Wiring: Adapted by Hauk Designs and Dan McKeag at Dakota Customs
Calibration: McKeag at Dakota
Motor Mounts: Dakota Customs 5.7L Hemi conversion mounts
Exhaust: Hellcat
Radiator: Production Wrangler
Fuel Pump: Hellcat
Air Filter: Modified production
Does Exhaust Have Catalysts: Yes
Cost: Undetermined

GPEC Architecture vs. PowerNet Architecture
As with all computer technology, systems keep improving. CANbus technology, which stands for Controller Area Network, is the communications network inside of every modern computer-controlled car electronically connecting components to each other. Every component monitors other components in CANbus, as well as sending out information about their own operation through sensors. Each module processes its individual data and transmits the appropriate commands within the vehicle to activate any additional systems (e.g. antilock brake system and adaptive cruise control). Actuators within the system allow control modules to turn things on and off, change gears, control the engine, unlock the doors, and so on—all based on what those sensors are indicating. With all of this gateway function where data and operations are turned on, off, or adjusted, the flow of more info a system can handle in a smaller and lighter package is everyone’s ideal.

Chrysler’s PowerNet architecture allows for more multiple signals than the previous Global Powertrain Engine Controller (GPEC) system. PowerNet was first used in the 2011 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Journey crossover in conjunction with its U-Connect touchscreen technology. All versions of the Hellcat utilize this architecture.

With in-vehicle electronic functions expanding in both infotainment and engine functions, we will see these architecture advancements continuing in the coming years.

The ABCs of Electronic Automotive Tech

ECU: Electronic Control Unit

TCU: Transmission Control Unit

PCM: Powertrain Control Module

GPEC: Chrysler’s Global Powertrain Engine Controller system introduced in 2004, but updated with the new, revised PowerNet system for all eight-speed automatic and Hellcat Chrysler products

ECM: Electronic Control Module

BCM: Body Control Module

FCM: Front Control Module

EVIC: Electronic Vehicle Information Center

KIN: Keyless Ignition Node

PDC: Powertrain Distribution Center

PEKG: Passive Entry/Keyless Go

PEM: Passive Entry Module

SCI: Serial Communication Interface

RKE: Remote Keyless Entry

WCM: Wireless Control Module

WIN: Wireless Ignition Module (yes, the N stands for Node, but it’s considered a Wireless Ignition Module)

CANbus: Controlled Area Network is the communications network inside of every modern computer-controlled car, electronically connecting components to each other

Where Oh Where Has My Hellcat Engine Gone?
One of the oddest elements of these early stages of Hellcat conversions is the confusing availability of actual Hellcat engines. And to be honest, even Dodge is a little bit confused, but we have cleared it up as best as we can. Savvy Dodge dealers all over the country that deal in a lot of Mopar parts were waiting with sweaty palms for a Hellcat 6.2L part number, and when one surfaced( two, actually: one for automatic cars and one for manuals), they individually purchased one or two—or ten. At Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), when a dealer places an order, FCA fulfills the order. Makes sense. But about the time Hellcat engine orders started flooding in, so did orders for Hellcat Chargers and Challengers. And FCA’s first obligation is to the production of Hellcats, and also warranty replacement engines—not that they need so many of those. After a few orders were fulfilled, Dodge stopped delivery of all Hellcat engines because it wanted a decent pipeline of engines for production and warranty fulfillment. We estimate this all took place around November 2014.

The part numbers Dodge assigned the two Hellcat engines were originally intended for warranty only, as everything at FCA works by a part number. If by some chance a Hellcat engine malfunctioned, the dealer needs a part number to replace said blown engine under warranty. Again, this all makes sense. But no one at Dodge intended for there to be a rush on Hellcat engines from sneaky dealers using the official part number, so Dodge placed a stop-order on all Hellcat engine orders. And with that, the stairway to Hellcat crate engines was closed.

This caused mass confusion with enthusiasts because, immediately, the few engines that got into dealer hands showed up online, so we all thought the Hellcat engine was available in crate form. Hallelujah! And even up to the beginning of 2016, some dealers had Hellcat engines they were “taking orders for” on their websites. If you were an enthusiast who searched for Hellcat crate engines for sale, these dealer sites listed them for your perusal.

In the end, Hellcat crate engines are not available, though drilling down at Dodge revealed it hopes to have real crate engines available by the first of 2017. Until then, your choices are to 1) buy a new Hellcat Challenger or Charger and swap out the engine, 2) find a totaled Hellcat with a good engine and controllers, or 3) wait until (hopefully) 2017 when crate engines will probably become available.


Posted in Interesting Stuff, Mopar | Tagged , , , ,

2016 HOT ROD Power Tour Announced!

2016 HOT ROD Power Tour Dates Announced: June 11–17

Registration, dates, and the need-to-know for HOT ROD’s biggest road trip of the year with more than 6,000 hot rods, muscle cars, customs, and more!

While you stare longingly into the garage, waiting for next year’s driving weather to break through the clouds, HOT ROD is planning our next Power Tour for June 11–17, 2016. If you’ve been before, you know how big this road trip is; if you haven’t, here’s the skinny.

Every year, we pull together thousands of HOT ROD fans for an epic weeklong road trip across the United States. We don’t run routes that your GPS will agree with, and we don’t bother with the interstate much either. We bring you through the small towns and rural highways that dot this country’s incredibly vast landscape, and last year we saw a mass of awesome things like V8 Speed and Resto’s shop in Red Bud, Illinois, the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois, the world’s largest burnout in Memphis, and tons more.

It’s really indescribable to see these small towns flood with miles of vintage machines, and we want you to be a part of it.

Last year, we saw a record number of participants. In fact, we had exactly 6,095 drivers meet us at our stops along the 1,500-mile journey, with 2,120 of those drivers and cars making it on our Long Haul Gang for the entire week. Even better, we had around 116,000 spectators walk through our stops throughout the week.

This year, we’re planning the same thing we plan every year: to try and take over the road! And here’s how:

Pre-registration will be available beginning Monday, January 11, 2016, through May 31, 2016 online at

Pricing is as follows:

Multi-day pre-registration: $99/Multi-day onsite registration: $125, includes vehicle entry at all venues, two credentials, and one goody bag.

Single-day pre-registration: $45/Single-day onsite registration: $55, includes vehicle entry at one venue.

VIP Gold Package: $300 (limited number available). Includes vehicle entry at all venues, 2 VIP credentials, preferred parking at all venues, one goody bag with bonus gift item, and kick-off VIP barbecue.

VIP Platinum Package: $2,000 (limited number available). Includes vehicle entry at all venues, 2 VIP credentials, preferred parking at all venues, one goody bag with bonus gift item, one VIP gift, kick-off VIP barbecue, one hotel room (room and tax paid) at either the host or co-host hotel in each Power Tour city (7 nights total), and a $25 food voucher per day (7 vouchers total).


Hot Tob Power Tour Link

Posted in Events

A Chrysler in Pontiac?

Pontiac MI

Long before I owned a Ferrari, raced a Mustang, or restored a Triumph, I was a Pontiac man. My first car was a 1970 LeMans Sport, which unfortunately suffered all the indignities that go with the teenage hot-rod bug: jacked up suspension, tatty exhaust and mismatched aluminum-slotted rims. But the car itself was marvelous. I’d felt as if I was one of a privileged few to fully understand the genius in the restrained design and wonderful finish of these intermediate GMs. And though it’s been years since I’ve owned my last GTO, the fire still burns.

I had a chance to fan the flames today, as our rolling car show called The Drive Home heads northeast through Illinois with an early stop at the Pontiac-Oakland Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. Pontiac could be one of those Midwestern towns used as the wholesome backdrop in “Back to the Future” or “Groundhog Day” with its center-square courthouse and historic murals. Housed in a former five-and-dime store on the town square, the museum is a private/public partnership between the town and Tim Dye, a Pontiac enthusiast and publisher of the Smoke Signals magazine of the Pontiac-Oakland Club. He discovered Pontiac while on a road trip and happened to mention his interest in forming a museum dedicated to his passion for the car of the same name. Proactive town officials and merchants took note, and a day later Tim was on the phone with Pontiac’s mayor and on his way to fulfilling every car guy’s fantasy.

Walking into the Pontiac-Oakland Museum, I am hit with a wave of familiar childhood awe, as an immaculate 1970 GTO Judge sits near the entrance. Next to it, a Tiger Gold GTO and a 1969 Ram Air IV Judge, presented mid-restoration. My car-guy flames have just had gasoline poured all over them.


The Drive Home crew are treated like visiting dignitaries. Or maybe these fine folks just treat everyone this way. Local media show up to interview us about our trip, and a number of officials are on hand, clearly proud of their museum. And there is a lot to be proud of. If limited by space, it is not by quality and the thoughtfulness of the displays. Tall ceilings and oak cabinets house Pontiac sales memorabilia and a comprehensive hood ornament collection. A Safari wagon sits in a diorama that could be ripped from a period magazine ad – complete with a tent, Coleman cooler and a flickering campfire. A glass-enclosed library invites slow relaxing research among voluminous records and documents.

Tim Dye and his crew are now taking us to lunch, and they’ve called out the town’s tourist trolley to cart us to Edinger’s Filling Station, a classic diner with an automotive flair. I order the buffalo chicken sandwich, aptly called “The Firebird,” and we have a wonderful time chatting with our hosts. The food is fantastic, hearty home-cooking; this is the meal we’ve been looking for since we left Tacoma. All too soon, it’s time to leave, with promises exchanged for a return visit. The gentle Southerners in our Drive Home team (of whom the practice of hospitality is considered an art form) are especially charmed by the town and its citizens, and decide that this all-to-brief time in Pontiac was one of our best stops so far.

Filled with chicken pot pie, we are now braced for the most daunting traffic yet: the dreaded I-294 in western Chicago. We have another gathering to attend, this time at the newly inaugurated Collectors Car Garage, a 66,000-square-foot concierge storage garage and event center directly across the street from the WGN Studios in Chicago. The event is to support the Hagerty Education Program, the in-house educational arm of the LeMay-America’s Car Museum. These HEPy Hours, as they are called, highlight the success stories of job placement and entrepreneurialism in the classic car industry under the Hagerty sponsored program.


Inside the impressive new facility, our road-worn cars provide a very stark contrast to the polished white epoxy floor and the assembled guests in their cocktail attire. About 100 people attend, continuing the building groundswell of support for the LeMay/America’s Car Museum and our looming goal of returning these great cars to the city of their birth. Now at the doorstep to Motown, we are filled with anticipation, anxiety, and excitement about the coming events this week. It promises to be very special. Stay tuned.


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Untitled until 1989, a 671-mile Superbird



Built for NASCAR homologation purposes, Plymouth’s 1970-only Superbird proved to be a tough sell to consumers. By the mid-1970s, most dealers were doing all they could to get these “Winged Warriors” off their lots, but one Kansas dealership understood that the limited-production car would one day be collectible. It kept the blue ’Bird until 1989, selling the previously untitled car with 208 miles on the odometer; 26 years later, the all-original, two-owner 1970 Plymouth Superbird is up for grabs again at Mecum’s January Kissimmee, Florida, sale.

VIN RM23U0A167071 was built at the Plymouth Assembly Plant on Lynch Road in Detroit, and delivered new to Sampson Motors in Junction City, Kansas, in December of 1969. It didn’t stay on the lot for long, and in March of 1970 it was driven 90 miles to Nemaha Motors in Junction City Seneca, Kansas. Perhaps understanding that the Superbird was one of just 1,935 produced (per the March 2007 Buyer’s Guide published in Hemmings Muscle Machines), the dealership retained possession for the next 19 years, displaying the car in its indoor showroom and reserving it for the occasional parade or special appearance.

As delivered, the car came with the 440 Super Commando V-8, fed by a single Carter four-barrel carburetor and rated at 375 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. Shifting was handled by a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic (with a column shift), and power was sent to the pavement via the A36 Performance Axle Package, which consisted of the Sure Grip differential fitted with 3.55:1 gearing. As for options, the Superbird came with tinted windows ($25.90) and Rallye wheels ($43.10), stickering out at $4,454, including destination charge.


It’s not clear how much William Carney paid for the car when he purchased it in 1989, but it’s safe to assume it was more than the sticker price. Later, the Plymouth became part of Wayne Schmeekle’s impressive muscle car collection, which centers on the years between 1967 and 1971 and includes prime choices from all of Detroit’s big three automakers, as well as Shelby American.

As photographed for the Kissimmee sale, the Superbird’s odometer reads just 671 miles, and four-plus decades of indoor storage has been kind to the car. The original paint still carries a high gloss, and the original interior looks to be in showroom-fresh condition. The rear seat belts are still wrapped in plastic, and the factory-provided “Starting Tips” hang tag is even part of the sale.

Schmeekle will be offering a total of 23 muscle cars for sale in Kissimmee, and his reasons for downsizing seem to mirror those of Ron Pratte, who sold off his collection in January of 2015. As Schmeekle told Mecum Auctions:

I think we’re always going to continue to be in the collector market,” he says. “But a little bit of it is just changing the wallpaper, and we’d like to maybe let some other collectors enjoy these cars. We’ll continue to look around also, but of the cars that we have, we’ve actually upgraded and upgraded until we finally got what we felt were the best cars with the best documentation available.

Given that this may be among the best-preserved and most original Plymouth Superbirds in existence, the lack of a 426 Hemi V-8 beneath the hood may have less of an impact on value than one might expect. Mecum is predicting a selling price between $300,000 – $450,000 when the car crosses the auction stage on Friday, January 22.


(Photos by David Newhardt, courtesy Mecum Auctions)

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