Meanwhile, suspension technology has taken a big leap forward since 1968 as well, and Matt wanted the car to handle like...well, like a Viper. The steering system is now a power rack-and-pinion from BRT with 7 inches of travel and is mounted in front of the engine rail to clear the low-slung oil pan. Coilover shocks with 400-plus pounds of spring rate are now in all four corners, meaning the leaf springs are history. The original, now narrowed 8 3/4-inch rear with one of Mopar Performance's new aluminum centersections stuffed with 3.91 gears and a pair of Moser axles round out the driveline.
Wheels proved to be another problem altogether, as most are available only with the stock Viper bolt pattern, but manufacturer Kinesis came through. Matt wanted to retain the factory 4 1/2-inch bolt circle, so Allen at Kinesis created a custom set of aftermarket Viper rims in that format: 18x8 for the front and 18x12 for the rear, shod with Michelin Pilot Sports tires (245-45 front and 345-35 in back). Making sure the car stops as well it goes, Wilwood discs are on all four corners, assisted by a Mopar Performance master cylinder and residual valving.
Now came the interior. At the SEMA show in 2000, Matt came across Scat (ironic, eh), a company that had just what he was looking for in seats; the factory rear seat was reupholstered to match these leather-covered beauties. Automotive Custom Specialties in Shreveport took over the design from there. A custom console was built, patterned after the Viper console, and a Gunslinger Pistol Grip shifter handle on a B&M Ripper arm now juts up between the two front seats. Just Dashes had the restored dash needed (now full of aftermarket Autometer gauging and faced in graphite by Precision Auto Trim), while a set of '70-era Charger door panels were selected due to their clean-design appearance. Creature comforts include a Vintage Air system tucked out of the way to stay cool in the bayou country, an Aiwa CD/MP3 player, and 700 watts of power for jaunts at the speed of sound.
Matt wanted subtlety from the project, so catchy things were left off the outside of the car; only the wheel/tire combination and the small GTS emblems where the R/T badging would have existed gives it away. For paint, the car went to Mike Harris first, who made sure the body was prepped just right, then to Eagle Paint and Body in Shreveport, where a PPG basecoat/ clearcoat combination in Viper Silver was laid down on the metal, including the entire undercarriage. A Viper Red "scat stripe" was added to the rear sheetmetal top to round out the look. No hoodscoop, no spoilers, no fancy paint schemes. Like any restoration, the glass and trimwork were all redone to high-quality standards. Truth be told, we walked past the car several times at the Mopar Nationals before giving it more than a passing glance. The more we looked, the more impressed we were.
In the end, Matt ended up with a machine that easily cruises up the highway, kicks out 440-plus horses at the back wheels, and tips the scales at 3,450 pounds. He says it'll go up the offramp on the interstate at 80 mph like it was on rails, but that would be breaking the speed limit.
Matt Delaney's Ultimate Charger
Body: '68 Dodge
Paint: PPG Viper Silver
Interior: Automotive Custom Specialties
Seats: Scat leather
Dash: Just Dashes with Autometer gauge cluster
Dash Face: Precision Auto Trim
Stereo: Aiwa 700-watt CD/MP3
Suspension Builder: B&M Performance, Bossier City, La.
Shocks: Strange Engineering
Rear Suspension: Coilover shocks with ladder bars
Front Suspension: Coilover shocks with tubular control arms
Steering: BRT power rack-and-pinion
Wheels: Kinesis custom cut to 4 1/2-inch bolt circle
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport low-profile
Engine: Mopar Viper V10 aluminum
Throttle Pedal: '70 'Cuda
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Clutch: Mopar Performance hydraulic master cylinder and slave
Rear: 3.91-geared 8 3/4 inches with MP aluminum center carrier
Bodywork: Mike Harris
Paint: Ollen at Eagle Paint and Body