Big Block Chargers
So, what'd you want to be when you were a kid? Until about the third grade, we probably all wanted to be fire fighters. Then we realized they run into burning buildings, and probably decided those guys weren't wrapped too tightly. Joe Hernandez never made that connection, and now runs towards raging infernos on a daily basis, rather than away from them. Okay, he gets to drive big red trucks that make lots of noise, but that's still not enough incentive for us to impersonate a hot dog at a cook out.
But it's not his choice of occupations that leads us to question his sanity-it's what he's done with his down time that makes us wonder. Starting an endeavor that would take only six months to complete, Joe bought someone else's unfinished project-a matching-numbers Super Track Pack '69 Charger R/T, originally equipped with a 440 and 727. Arriving at Joe's in pieces, the body was quickly sent to Joe's friend Richard Romanelli at Restifications Unlimited in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the sheetmetal was straightened and a flawless coat of black was applied. Inside, the interior was refinished with Legendary components and left pretty much alone, with the exception of an Autometer tach to monitor shift points.
The original engine was treated to a .030-inch overbore and filled with TRW pistons for a final compression ratio of 10:1, with the whole bottom end of the motor being balanced and blue printed. The 906 heads were treated to a full porting and fitted with oversized valves, and a .484 lift/284-degree duration cam was installed. A Mopar Performance distributor and orange box were added, and stock exhaust manifolds retained, with the mufflers being upgraded to Dyno Max three chamber units. Though the internal mods are relatively tame by most standards, the engine is able to make substantial power due to the induction system. Joe is good friends with Keith Wison, the owner of Wilson Manifolds, who happens to be the shop of choice for all of Chrysler's NASCAR and Craftsman Truck intakes. Wilson worked his magic on the Edelbrock intake and topped it with a Holley HP 4150 carb. Though never on the dyno, the Charger has run 12.30 seconds in the quarter on BFG street tires. That's downright respectable for a daily driven car.
Backing the 440 is the original 727 rebuilt by John Cages, which employs a reverse manual valve body and 2000 rpm stall converter. The power then makes its way to the original Dana 60 rear, fitted with 4.10 gears and held in place with Super Stock springs. Addco supplied the front and rear sway bars, shocks are KYBs all around, the factory power discs are up front, and American Racing CP 2000 wheels in as-cast finish are employed for a tough, classic look.
So why do we think he's nuts? It's not that we think he did anything wrong to the car. Heck, we can't think of a single thing we'd change if it were ours, and we'd probably run into a burning building ourselves for a chance at the title and keys. It's what he's done with the sinister looking R/T that's got us questioning his state of mind. Joe sold the car a few months back. The only thing that's keeping us and his friends from having him committed is that he replaced the Charger with a sleeper-styled '63 "Post" car. We've heard it's a great car, but we're hanging on to the white coat with the funny sleeves until we see it ourselves, just to be sure.