Slant Sickness by Steve Magnante

Last month in this column, as I gushed about my new ’63 Dart GT winter beater, my interest in the mighty Slant Six engine was reinvigorated once again. You see, about a decade ago I was on staff at Hot Rod magazine as technical editor where – under the supervision of the brave and irreverent Ro McGonegal – I was allowed to write zillions of articles about all things Mopar – truly a feat unto itself given Hot Rod’s sometimes deserved reputation for ignoring non-Chevy subject matter. While I covered plenty of Hemi, big block, and small block material, I also got the chance to share many Slant Six performance tips with the Hot Rod readership – many of whom built their own Slant Sixes in response.

In the process,
I made numerous acquaintances with
Slant Six fanatics all over the world and was fortunate to have had a bunch of oddball Slant Six parts pass through my hands. Though my only Slant Six vehicle at present is the aforementioned ’63 Dart GT, I find myself subconsciously scheming ways to add a Super Six 2-barrel setup off a Volare wagon, or maybe a set of headers. Regardless of what becomes of these urges, here is a brief recap of the highlights from my decade of Slant Sickness.

Jack Clifford took over Hyper-Pak production and provided me with a manifold that would be the launching point for a dozen Slant Six magazine articles. Had it not been for Dutra and Clifford remaking the Hyper-Pak, I would not have pursued any Slant Six performance work – or written those many magazine articles. The renewed availability of the outrageous Hyper-Pak manifold must be heralded as being of equal importance to Mopar Performance’s recent retooling to the 426, 472, and 528 Hemi crate engines. It was a big deal. In this photo from 2001, Jack poses with no less than sixteen fresh Hyper-Pak castings. My Hyper-Pak manifold was first installed on a brown ’70 Duster, then a white ’62 Valiant 4-door and finally a white ’62 Valiant 2-door sedan. It truly was the intake manifold that launched a dozen magazine articles.

This man is Doug Dutra of Sunnyvale, CA. Doug is one of the earliest contributors to the highly regarded Slant 6 News and is often referred to as Doctor Dodge. Doug was always ready to make the five hour trek from his Sunnyvale, CA digs to L.A. to help out with many of the Slant Six engine builds I did for Hot Rod. To my mind, Doug’s greatest contribution to the Slant Six world is his reproduction of the legendary NASCAR-inspired Hyper-Pak intake manifold. Doug made the patterns and got the project off the ground and cast perhaps 25 Hyper-Paks before partnering with Clifford Research, which took over production. Doug’s Hyper-Paks are identified by the integrally cast “Dutra” logo. These elegant ram-tuned manifolds equal the Max Wedge and Race Hemi cross rams for sheer wow factor.