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How can our project cars help you,
our readers?

I am not sure when I started reading magazines like Car Craft, Hot Rod, National Dragster, Drag Review and so on, but it had to be about 40 years ago. I can still remember the weekend I cut every full-page photo out of all my old magazines and stapled them to the north wall of my dad’s garage. It was 20’x6’ and it had everyone who was anyone pinned on it. From Big John Mazmanian, Fast Eddie Schartman, Ohio George Montgomery, Big Daddy Don Garlits (of course) and even Formula One guys like Jim Clark and TransAm racers like Parnelli Jones and Mark Donahue. It was the coolest wall in town (or at least I thought so!)

What I remember most about all those magazines I bought with money I made caddying at the local country club was the things I learned from articles in the magazines. Whether it was ideas on how to remove and replace intake manifolds or installing brakes or adjusting valves, it all seemed to melt right into my memory. I still remember those things I learned and use them today. I can’t really say that about some of my school classes during that time period. Classes like Social Studies, Algebra and Government just don’t ring through as clear to me. I guess it is the things that INTEREST YOU that you remember. Those magazines were a great way to go into a different world and the articles peaked my interest then and still do today.

I hope my tech articles and project cars can do the same for you. Whether you are an “old guy” like me or a young man or woman surfing the Net and found this article in Mopar Max, I try to “keep it real” on my tech articles. I never found the ones with billet steering wheels and spotless shops with nothing lying around but more new parts to be “real” to me. I grew up in a family where my dad owned several stock cars we ran on a local dirt track and we were ALWAYS in the garage or in the driveway working on them. It could have been the year we rolled the old coupe five different times in a year that made me look into drag racing as a better alternative for me.

We are starting on a couple of new projects that will take shape in the pages of Mopar Max in the upcoming months. By using the word “we” I am talking about my son, Andy, my wife Barb and myself. We are all involved in the racing projects from start to finish. I have always been lucky enough to have great family support for my racing passion. It makes a world of difference if you are together on something that demands so much of your time.


The first project we have a good start on is an 540/E85 engine. It will be a 540 cubic Mopar Wedge. Support is coming from a wide variety of manufacturers and you can read all about it in this month’s tech article “Project 540/E85 Engine.”

There are two things holding us back from getting started on the engine build: the block and the cylinder heads. Aftermarket blocks are very hard to get your hands on and expensive. We are considering using a stock block and putting Hard-Block in it to support the cylinder walls and using a Hughes Engines main cap girdle. The question I keep asking myself is, “Is a stock block the ethical way to do a project engine for my readers that will probably make 800 horsepower?”

We may have to use the stock block and see what happens, but we hope to come up with a Mopar Performance Mega-Block for the foundation. The cylinder heads are one place that all Mopar fans can rejoice. As Mopar owners we have a great selection of cylinder heads to choose from. Edelbrock has two different styles to offer, Indy Cylinder Head has about a dozen different combinations for Wedge engines, Dave Koffel’s B1 Heads are a great performer, and then there are the Mopar Performance heads. We have still not made the final choice on heads. We are leaning towards the Edelbrock Victors because of availability, reputation and the company who has agreed to port the cylinder heads likes what he sees there. Modern Cylinder Head will be doing the CNC-porting and I look forward to seeing those perform on the strip.

We will do our best to keep you up to date on exact costs during this build and if we run into a problem you will hear about it. I am pretty sure it will not be a totally smooth deal. Building a Mopar engine takes some thought and experience. On the other hand you can grab a phone and a credit card and for about $12,000 you can have a 800 hp Chevy delivered in about four days. They can have them; I want a Mopar and I always will.

So, if we can get a cylinder block and a pair of heads, we are close enough to get this 540/E85 project rolling along.


The second part of the project will be a new dragster chassis from S&W Race Cars in Pennsylvania. The project will be called “Back-2-Basics III”. Why a dragster when it seems most Mopars are doorslammers? Simple question and a simple answer: we like the dragster. First, it allows us to haul two of them, on the floor, in one trailer. Our other car is also a dragster and is still a tech series in our biggest magazine, www.dragracingonline.com. “Project 4-Link” is powered by a 900 hp 572” Mopar and has won its share of races. We expect “Back-2-Basics III” to do even better. I like lining up my Mopar-powered dragster in a big Super Comp show and out of 110 cars there MIGHT be four dragsters, powered by Mopar engines. It feels pretty good when you’re the last one standing, that’s for sure.

The new S&W chassis will feature a swing-arm rear suspension and lot of other little details that make them a trick piece of racing equipment. You will get to see us build it and provide tech tips for you from the time we receive the tubing, install the body, paint work, Mopar cooling systems, wiring, fuel system, install rear end parts, brake installation, transmissions and much more. Most of these tech stories will also apply to door cars. You can learn wiring tips that easily can be applied to your car, same for brakes, fuel systems, etc. I hope you enjoy the engine and chassis tech articles.

Maybe someday I’ll look into some young man’s garage and there will be a wall full of photos stapled on his dad’s garage wall too! That would be cool.

Mopars RULE!!! 

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