During the mid-'90s, Mopar Performance was given the green light to begin production of their classic 426 Hemi line, beginning with reproduction engine blocks. Within months, due to the swarm of enthusiasts wanting to get their hands on the new Hemi plants, every available block was accounted for and hundreds were on back-order. The scarcity of original production Hemi-powered vehicles (a total of nearly 11,000 from 1966 to 1971) made availability of suitable blocks nearly impossible for any enthusiast who wanted to convert their wedge or six-cylinder-powered ride into a Hemi clone. by the time the Mopar Performance division unveiled the complete crate 426 at the turn of the 21st century, the venerable elephant engine was finding itself in more Mopars than the factory ever produced. the gearheads in Auburn Hills knew, if we build 'em, they will come. Chasing the tail of the repopped 426 Hemi's success, Mopar began releasing other engine combinations, such as the stroked 472, 528, and, most recently, the all-aluminum 540 monster available with a roots-style blower capable of over 900 hp. Enthusiasts didn't have to scour the want ads, internet web sites, or chase after crashed Hemi cars sitting in a farmer's field; they could just go to their local dealership and order a King Kong engine for their classic Mopar.
When Mike Ricketts picked up this '67 Coronet wagon from moparts.com, he knew what he was getting into. The wagon was used specifically for racing with a built 360 small-block with 904 heads, a standard 831/44 rear with 4.56 gears, and turned in respectable times in the mid-12s. Mike took possession of the Coronet and had it shipped to his home in Chesterfield, Michigan, in December 2004.
Here's proof of Mike's claims...
Here's proof of Mike's claims to solid 11-second passes and the possible future of a 10-second shot. Mike admits the Hemi needs a little more fine tuning before he'll see the 10-second mark, but he knows it's possible.
The wagon was in immaculate condition, sporting the faded factory white paint. Mike chose not to worry too much about the aesthetics of the B-Body, rather opting to focus on getting the wagon to haul ass as much as groceries. The drivetrain was yanked and sold off, and the money was used to help fund Mike's dreams for a better, faster sleeper wagon.
A wounded 528 crate engine was landed for an affordable price and quickly carted off to the engine savants at Best Machine Racing in Warren, Michigan. The block was align-bored and honed. Best Machine retained the Callies 411/44 stroker crank and fit 10.5:1 Wiseco pistons. Mike had a .576-lift hydraulic cam slid in to control the stock MP aluminum heads. He had the heads fashioned with Indy rockers and Isky springs to control the Manley stainless valves. A tall Indy single-plane intake is topped with a Holley Pro Systems three-circuit Dominator. Like any good racer, Mike had a MSD distributor put on to control the flame thrower's timing. Making well over 600 ponies, this elephant knows how to leave a mark. Unfortunately, the problem was fitting it under a stock hood. Mike had the K-frame spaced down, dropping the mounts and modifying the crossmember for the transmission. The 16-inch drop-base Straightline Performance air cleaner was also modified, as well as the large Hooker headers and radiator to accommodate the lowered engine. With all this custom fabrication, Mike knew he needed some special touches for his exhaust. For that, he turned to Diamond Fabrication to install the custom 3-inch cross-pipe exhaust system.