In years past, our group of gearheads would assemble by the main gate of the Mopars at the Strip show in Vegas on Friday morning to have a meeting, and we, the staff of Mopar Muscle, would meet with the car owners, judge each car on its appearance, and then we would take the group of them out on the streets of Las Vegas. This has become increasingly more dangerous as the years have passed, and to be honest, isn't something we were comfortable doing again. Once our street passes were taken care of, we would then hit the track.
After Randy and I discussed the great level of discomfort each of us had taking eight nice Mopars onto the Interstate, and frequently pulling over onto the side of the highway while I jumped into the next car, it was decided we would alter this part. We feel the change that was made actually gave us a better feeling for the cars if we took them out one-by-one. And, best of all, it was much safer than pulling off onto the side of the highway with its barely existent safety shoulder.
Everything else in the competition stays the same because nothing was immediately dangerous. We still judge each of the selected competitors in the same three categories and score them on how well they perform in all of them. At the end of the day, the winner should be a car that displays a terrific balance of performance, comfort, and appearance.
This year's winner was Marc Vieu in his '72 Demon. His car embodies the goals of the True Street Challenge and was compliant on the road, consistent at the track, and had an outstanding fit and finish that kept him in the top ranks in every category we test in. This gave him the clean victory. Each participant's cars excel in their own way, and there isn't a loser in the group. That's why the cars will be organized by their elapsed time, rather than randomly or by score, as in years past. Check out which cars were up for the challenge this year.
|'72 Dodge Demon|
Marc's '72 Demon stood out from the group, with its sinister tuxedo black paint. A quick lap around the car had us amazed at the details more than anything else. Yes, some of the chrome was painted black, but it fit the look and feel of the car. Behind the modern 17-inch front Coy's wheels were Viper RT-10 calipers chomping down on 11 3/4-inch Cordoba rotors. The rear 18-inch Coy's were covering a nice set of disc brakes as well. When Marc presses the brake pedal, this thing yields from whatever to zero in a hurry.
The gas-fill cap and side marker lights were removed and the areas smoothed out, while fiberglass bumpers replaced the original, heavy chromed units. The body was sprayed in PPG black paint and the Demon side stripes were painted in a ghost effect in House of Kolor Platinum Sparkle Pearl paint. For power, the 340 was bored .060-inch over and treated to iron Mopar Swirl-port heads, KB pistons, Comp roller rockers, and a .237/.242 cam with .547/.555 lift. Sitting atop the small-block is an Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap intake manifold, port-matched to the cylinder heads and fueled by a Demon 750 carb. Behind the engine rests an A-833 four-speed manual. Marc says that a 340-based 416 is still under construction.
On the street, the ride was the best in the group. It had a modern suspension feel, yet still retained the simplicity that we've come to appreciate with these cars. Inside, the custom upholstery was made by Henry of The Upholsters, in Riverside, California, with race-inspired front seats and a rear seat delete. In the trunk, a custom toolbox was painted just like the exterior of the car and houses a spare tire that will clear the large Viper brakes. The trunk also houses the 20-gallon fuel cell, floor jack, and an Optima battery.
|'68 Dodge Coronet|
Rick is a reader of Mopar Muscle and read last year's coverage and decided he would try and enter in 2010. "I knew I didn't have the prettiest car, but it's fast and I thought I would have a chance at winning." Sure enough, he was easily the fastest car in the competition. With what the car didn't have in look-at-me paint, it made up for tenfold on the street and going down the strip.
11s come easy, thanks to a powerful combination 440 that was built by Performance Machine in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The short-block was bored .030-inch over and sports a .560-lift cam with 267-degrees duration. The thump emitting from Rick's Hooker headers and Flowmaster mufflers is rather menacing, and this RB draws in air through a Quick Fuel Holley 850 carb attached to a Holley Street Dominator intake manifold and Edelbrock heads. Rick converted the car over to a Mopar Performance electronic ignition for more efficient power and spark. The power is sent through a 727 that was rebuilt by Ultimate Transmission in Boise, Idaho, which holds up to the endless beating that Rick subjects this B-Body to on the street and strip.
To put the road manners of this Coronet into perspective, we had to really understand that this was a legitimate mid 11-second car that felt no different than any of the other well-behaved cars on the street. Rick even managed to pull the front tire off the ground under his ferocious 1.57-second 60-foot short time. This car is every bit as easy-going on the street as it was to cruise into the 11s.
|'70 Plymouth Duster|
The only real casualty of this year's event-seems like there is one every year-was Julie Reynolds' '70 Duster. Before we had a chance to enjoy a ride in this 11-second Plymouth, Julie was out competing in one of the many drag classes at the MATS. On her second pass of the weekend, her transmission went out, leaving the car on the starting line. After Julie limped the car back to the trailer with the help of her family, she was bummed about the entire weekend.
Still, in spite of this setback, her car scored high in every category we were able to judge it on. The car was painted Firethorn Red, which makes this Duster special and a little dare-to-be-different. It's an original 340 car with the Rallye Sport package and front discs. The suspension is all stock, and the rear Super Stock leafs were moved inboard to make more room for the slicks. Inside is an original, unrestored interior with working gauges. Powering the A-Body is a rebuilt 340 with Eagle rods, Ross pistons, and a factory crankshaft. A 246-duration Steve Long camshaft and port-matched heads generate enough power to motivate this light-weight into the high 11s. The Holley intake and 780 carburetor provide the LA mill with air and fuel, and an MSD ignition ignites the mixture. She wanted to thank her friend, Kevin Briles, in addition to her daughter and crew chief, Nichole, for helping her with the car.
|'69 Dodge Super Bee|
John Godshalk tells us that this was his first car, and over the years the two have been through a lot together. John's Super Bee is dressed in an immaculate coat of B5 Blue paint that catches every bit of sunlight. It faired quite well in the looks department, but that's not all that's important to us.
After John lifted off his original A12's flat black hood, it revealed a healthy 500 cubic inch RB with a rotating assembly from 440Source, 440Source aluminum heads, and an original Six Pack intake manifold and Holley Six Pack carburetors. TTI headers and a 3-inch exhaust with Dynomax mufflers control the sound of the big-block as John maneuvers his rebuilt factory Hurst shifter into the next gear.
The A12's road manners were amongst the best in the competition, and to top things off, it was one of the most comfortable and well-appointed. The suspension has been completely rebuilt with parts from Just Suspension, and it now sports Mopar Performance torsion bars and KYB shocks. A set of Billet Specialties wheels with BFG Radial T/A tires on the street and Mickey Thompson drag radials on the strip helped John achieve a great balance of street manners and track supremacy.
|'68 Dodge Dart|
When talking with Buddy Marshall, you quickly realize what a fun-loving guy he is. His spirits are up, and he was very enthusiastic about competing in the challenge. His '68 Dart was equally as impressive, too. As one of his more than 40 Mopars, it's great to see that his appreciation for the 360-powered A-Body is so deep. He was constantly cleaning it up and was eager to get the car on the road for the street portion of our testing.
When asked what was under the hood, Buddy replied back that it was "a mystery 360." He found the car on Craigslist in excellent shape but the engine was blown up. That's when he got a sweet deal on the trusty LA that's in the car now. Buddy tells us that he hasn't even opened up since he's owned it. What he can tell you is that he and his friends Mile Williams and Paul Harrison installed an Edelbrock Torker intake manifold, Holley 850, and upgraded the ignition system with some MSD parts. They also upgraded the exhaust with tti headers and a Flowmaster exhaust system. Inside the transmission they installed a Cheetah valve body and swapped the rear gears out for a set of 3.55s.
Once we exited the MATS show field in the Dart and made our way onto the highway, we were pleased to hear the lull of a low-spun small-block as his Gear Vendors overdrive kicked in. His option for super stock springs and PST restoration parts made the car a joy on the roads. Inside the factory seats were comfortable, and the ride wasn't harsh at all.
|'70 Plymouth Cuda|
It seemed like every time we tracked down Chad during the event, he was either behind the wheel of his marvelously restored '70 'Cuda, or he was just getting out of the car after making a pass down the track. His 'Cuda had all the details right, and the paint was smooth and clean. Inside, a set of custom floor mats help Chad keep his pristine carpeting in nice shape as he shifts the gears going down the street or strip.
When Chad popped the hood, it was like going back in time. Everything was there, and the addition of some aftermarket dress-up items didn't hurt it one bit. He cleverly disguised an Edelbrock intake manifold and carburetor. Everything inside the RB is stock, and so is the ignition system. The only other aftermarket additions are the Hooker headers and a 3-inch Magnaflow exhaust that round out this well-optioned 440.
On the road, the stock restored suspension was very comfortable. The 3.90 gears kept the rpm a little high, but Magnaflow exhaust kept the sound levels to a delightful and manageable level. At the track, Chad was getting the hang of sending the big-block power to the Radial T/A tires without causing a smoke show. He and his daughter are true car people, and even spent the weekend camping at the show with their Mopar.
|'70 Dodge Challenger|
John and Barbara Copage own this Dodge that originally came with a 383 engine and was a retired drag car. Over the past few years, John has worked on getting the car into excellent shape so that he could enjoy it on the street and show off his hard work at the show circuit. As a red-on-red Hemi Challenger, of course it was cool.
While a 383 is a terrific performance platform, we can all agree that the Hemi is "where it's at." John digressed from his back-to-stock restoration for one small non-original alteration, a 472-cubic inch Hemi crate engine. It's supported by stock exhaust and electronics. John even sourced an original Hemi intake and carburetors. Behind the engine is a factory four-speed manual and a Dana 60 filled with 4.10 gears and a SureGrip diff.
Out on the sun-battered streets of Nevada, the Challenger scored high marks. John's smooth shifting combined with the smooth-riding suspension and entirely stock exhaust was the recipe for the perfect cruiser. With little motivation, John rolled into the throttle and unleashed some Hemi power, pinning passengers in their seat. Out on the track, John was another unfortunate one this year when his water pump belt decided it no longer wanted to stay together and caused the Challenger to puke some coolant. Thankfully, he caught it early and no damage was done. But that meant he only was able to make one pass before calling it a day.
|'70 Plymouth Cuda|
What were you doing when you were 16 years old? Stephanie Williams was doing burnouts, autocrossing, and cruising around in her fresh '72 'Cuda at the 2010 Mopars at the Strip event in Las Vegas. Her uncle, Mike, and her father, Steve, conspired to build the car for her 16th birthday-which was last November. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to complete the car in time, so a new date was set: the 2010 Mopars at the Strip.
Stephanie came out with her family and a camcorder to document the lifetime experience for a school project. We hope she scores high marks like we gave her 'Cuda. The first thing you'll notice is the brand-new Moulin Rouge PPG paint and the photo-luminescent flake strobe stripe down that side that glows in the dark. Under the hood is a mild 340 with stock internals, a Hughes Racing cam, and an Edelbrock Air Gap intake manifold with a Holley 650 on top. The small-block sends its exhaust through a pair of Doug's headers with 3-inch collectors, a 2 1/2-inch Pypes X-pipe with cutouts, and two Flowmaster 40-series mufflers. Inside is a freshly restored white interior that is almost blinding.
On the road, you could just tell that Stephanie was excited to be behind the wheel. Her car dealt with the Vegas roads with ease with its mostly stock suspension, and thanks to the thick front and rear sway bars, the E-Body was smooth through the corners. At the track, Stephanie made her first ever passes down the strip. She didn't even stage with her back tires like most first timers!