Story continues below this advertisement
couple of months ago my friend Polara Pat, a founding member of the Wagons of Steel North team, took my advice and read the outstanding book "We Were the Ramchargers" by Dave Rockwell. Like anyone who has ever brought a Mopar to the drag races, Pat found the book to be inspirational. He decided to challenge us to a best of five match race at our local track. They would, of course, make the monster tow from their home base in Nelson, British Columbia to meet us at Bremerton Raceway, ten miles and a ferry ride from our shop. The catch for us was that our car, the Mighty Josephine II, was a shell sitting in the corner and theirs was a scienced out mid eleven second race car. We had a month to get the big '70 Chrysler Town & Country ready for the track. The chassis work was basically done. We had installed sub frame connectors and a complete roll cage. We had fabbed up a really cool fuel system. There was no engine or transmission but we had put together a custom Dana 60 with 4.56 gears and a spool. There wasn't one inch of wiring in the whole car. We decided to accept their challenge.
I just had to laugh at myself as we embarked on the project. The thing that I hate about most of the car building shows that I've seen on TV is that under-the-gun-gotta-be-done-yesterday thing. I mean, isn't this supposed to be fun? But here we were up against the clock trying to do in weeks what would normally take us months. We started by making a list. The thing that made this project economically feasible was that we had many of the expensive components on hand, notably a motor, transmission, and converter. The brakes that come stock on a '70 Chrysler are huge discs up front and drums out back for slowing down a family of six towing a boat with a fifty five hundred pound wagon. That's plenty of stopping power for our purposes. We adapted them and the steering to a manual configuration. We gutted as much weight out of it as possible. We cut all the metal and window mechanisms out of the doors, replaced the glass with Lexan, then reinstalled the original door panels. The inner fender wells are not structural in a "C" body and can be unbolted and discarded. Everything is gone that doesn't make the car go with the idea in mind that I want her to look more or less original from the outside.
The motor is a 480 cubic inch stroker 440. It was originally built for a guy who wanted to drive on the street with something that looked like an original Max Wedge. He had Dvorak work over a set of "516" heads to accept a Max Wedge sized intake (no small feat!) and fitted the short block with custom soap dish pistons for pump gas friendliness.