If you're going to do something, do it right! Well, we try to live by those words, anyway. But as most of you know, somewhere between start and finish, necessity sometimes rears its ugly head, and the final product can fall short of your original goals. Cross Ram intake or a single 4-bbl and braces for the kid? Ultra-trick, mega cube, gobs of torque Hemi or a 383 and carpet for the house to replace that Avocado green shag wall-to-wall in the living room, dining room, and guest bathroom. Of course, all the appliances and bathroom fixtures must match, so...
It doesn't look like Joe McCaron had to do any home remodeling or spousal prioritization when he started his '65 Coronet. The fact is, if it were ours, we can't think of a single detail we'd change! For us, this is the epitome of Mopar muscle, from its Cross Rammed intake to it's painted Torque Thrust wheels. The "delete" list alone made us giddy!
Starting with-yup, you guessed it-an original little-old-lady-owned '65 Slant Six Coronet purchased in Northern California. Joe brought the car to his Covina, California, shop and started the transformation from grocery getter to attention getter. He began by stripping the body and having it media blasted, where he discovered the car was as straight and rust free as it originally appeared-which is usually where things start to go bad for us. He then began the transformation by tying the front and rear subframes together, and installed mini-tubs to clear the planned traction planters.
The car was smoothed, straightened, and painted DuPont Viper Red by Bob Lowry & Son Auto Body in West Covina. When it came back, the passenger compartment was filled with a stock dash, A-100 van seats, and not much else-absent is the radio, heater, and rear seat.
Under the hood is the best of all worlds-modern technology, huge inches, and classic looks. Starting with a new Mopar Performance siamese bore 440 block, a square bore/stroke combination of 4.375 each way was achieved with the aid of a spare 51/48-stroke billet Crower crank from the Funny Car in which Joe was part owner. To add just a bit more stroke, the rod journals were offset ground toaccept big block Chevy-style rods, for a total displacement of 526 cubic inches. Crower rods swing a set of Arias custom silicon pistons, with a final compression ratio of 10.2:1, and Crower was again tapped for a roller cam with a lift of over .600-inches and the requisite lifters.
The lungs of the engine are equally special, featuring a set of Stage V aluminum Hemi heads, which are designed for a direct fit on 440 blocks. The heads feature 2.250-inch intake and 1.90-inch exhaust valves from Manley, and stainless roller rockers from Stage V. An original '65-vintage cross ram sits atop the modern Hemi heads, sporting a pair of Holley 770 carbs. An MSD Pro Billet distributor, 6AL box, and custom headers by Tom Dawson Headers in Nuevo, California, feed into 3-inch pipes with Hooker Aero Chamber mufflers rounding out the package. You won't find power steering or power brakes, and the battery has, of course, been relocated to the trunk.
Backing it is a Cheetah reverse pattern, manual valvebody-equipped 727 by Turbo Action, and an 831/44 rear filled with 3.55s and Sure Grip transmits the power to the period-perfect American Racing Torque Thrust wheels. Mickey Thompson Sportsman Pro treads measuring 29x12.5x15 ride in back, with 205/75R15 Tiger Paws in front keeping the suspension off the ground, while front discs and 10-inch rear drums are employed to bring things to a halt.
With the aluminum heads and 10.2:1 compression, the car lives on nothing but 92 octane pump gas, ensuring Joe can fill up at any station he pulls into. Though it has the look and feel of an original Super Stock, Joe listed his primary use of the car as cruising, even admitting to never once having it on the dragstrip. The final, and our favorite, detail is the stock appearing column shifter, with the reverse pattern. Joe got input from Bob Mosher all the way through the construction, and took a tip by sanding the letters off the shift indicator and having them re-applied, in the proper sequence, at a local trophy shop. Where "D" used to be is now "Low," and third-"D"-is now at the bottom, matching the indicator to the actual shift pattern. The reversed pattern guarantees no missed shifts, and the Reverse lock-out is built right in. That's got to be the ultimate detail!
Joe's car is a great little package with only nine months of work, start to finish. And looking it over, is there any wonder we wouldn't change a single thing if it were ours? Of course, if it were ours, we'd still be building it, that motor would be a 383, and...