The interior just screams...
The interior just screams vintage Super Stock race car-no radio or heater, A990 seats and seat brackets. it's sparse for a street car, but that's what makes it cool.
When Travis' dad won the inaugural...
When Travis' dad won the inaugural Hemi Shootout in 2001, part of the prize was a new hemi block from Mopar. That changed the plans from a 383-powered cruiser to the elephant-propelled flyer it is now. Most of the rest of the engine's pieces are things other Super Stock guys no longer used, and Travis traded work for them.
When many of us reached our teenage years, we rebelled against the way our folks did things. But what if you're Travis Hess from Martinsburg, West Virginia, and your father is noted racer Bucky Hess? How can you rebel against a guy that spends his weekends driving really fast in a Hemi-powered A-Body? Bucky has made a name for himself in SS/AA drag racing, where his 8-second King Cuda has been a major contender during the last decade. His son Travis didn't really rebel, but he chose a different way to go when it came to building his performance goal.
"What I wanted was a '60s-inspired Super Stock street car," he told us as we looked over his '65 Coronet. "Plus, I wanted to be able to do a little nostalgia racing with it." Travis had made all that happen with this cruiser-taking accolades at the first-ever Hot Rod magazine Pump Gas Drags in 2004, putting down quite a few highway miles, and even qualifying for Nostalgia Super Stock races on open weekends.
The Dodge originally came into the Hess family in 2001. The original plan was to build a mild street beast out of it. In fact, in Travis' mind at the time, the car would be fun with just a worked 383 in it. However, when Bucky won the '01 Hemi Challenge SS/AA race at the U.S. Nationals that year, there was a brand-new Hemi block available and plans changed. Travis paints cars and custom bikes for a living, and he's pretty good at it. Part of the payment he got from a job he did for Johnny Kelley, another SS/AA racer friend, was a used set of spare Indy Stage V Hemi heads. In fact, most of the motor was assembled with cast-off parts from Super Stock programs that time and competition had left in the dust. The lung, which the guys at Ray Barton's place put together, now displaces 528 inches.
Travis says, "The intake and valve covers are off Dad's first 8-second Cuda. They leak a little, but they look supercool. The seats are the originals out of that first 'Cuda as well."
The JE pistons help squeeze a mild 10.5:1 compression ratio, while a custom .660-inch lift Bullet cam, mated with Schubeck lifters and Manley valve gear, keeps the fuel flowing through a pair of Bucky-prepped Holley 770 carburetors.
A set of custom headers flowing into a 3-inch exhaust keeps the rumble to a legal minimum, and MSD parts, Moroso wires, and Autolite plugs light the explosions in each cylinder.
Behind this combination is a 727 TorqueFlite rebuilt by Gene Strouse, with a ProTrans valvebody, and an ATI 8-inch converter that stalls out at 5,500 rpm. There's a Dana 60 setup with Mark Williams parts, and a Detroit Locker is surrounded by 4.10 gears; mileage is not a crucial issue with this package.
After spending a month scraping the undercoating off the car and painting the floor, Travis turned it over to Straightline Performance in Hagerstown, Maryland, where a six-point cage went in, and the car was setup with mini-tubs and Super Stock springs. In keeping with the old-school look, Radir 15x4 mag wheels were mounted up front, and steel wheels measuring 15x10 inches host M/T 31/14.50x10 tires on the back. Front disc brakes were added as well.
The body is still the same blue that a previous owner had applied, but Travis redid the roof in a metalflake silver. He also added the small Von Dutch-inspired pinstriping touches. Inside is a blue A990-type interior with aluminum work. Auto meter gauges, a Mooneyes steering wheel, and M&R belts round out the Super Stock look.
Does it work? The car has clicked off some very respectable times in the 10.20s with speeds approaching 135 mph. Travis gives special credit to his dad Bucky, Cole at Straightline, Chris at ATI, and transmission guy Gene Strouse for all their help.
"I love this car because it has patina," says Travis. "It looks like it has been together for 40 years. If it was perfect I would never want to drive it or lay rubber with it. Sure, I could make it perfect, but I probably never will!"
'65 Dodge Coronet Travis Hess • Martinsburg, WV
Engine: Starting life as a Mopar Performance Hemi block, Ray Barton Racing engines filled it with a Bullet solid-lifter cam with .660-inch lift, a steel Mopar Performance stroker crankshaft, spinning Manley rods, and JE forged pistons. After topping the short-block with a set of Indy-prepped Stage V Hemi heads, the final compression ratio comes in at 10.5:1. Induction features a Super Stock cross-ram intake with two Holley carburetors. Custom headers finally send the spent gas out the back through 3-inch pipes.
Transmission: To get power to the rearend, Travis uses a Gene Strouse-built 727 TorqueFlite with a 5,500-stall speed ATI converter, measuring a measly 8-inches in diameter.
Differential: a Dana 60 filled with a set of 4.10:1 gears are mounted to a Detroit Locker spool, and supplemental Mark Williams parts round out the package.
Horsepower & Performance: Knowing Travis' lineage, it's no wonder he and his father Bucky would build a street car capable of 10.20 e.t.'s at a blistering 134 mph.
Suspension: The front suspension consists of the factory style torsion bar setup. the rear leaf springs with Koni adjustable shocks plant the car firmly to the launch pad.
Brakes: At 134 mph, you better be able to bring things to a halt. the Dodge utilizes factory drum brakes in the rear, and up front is a set of Aerospace Components disc brakes.
Wheels: In keeping with a Super Stock vibe, Travis placed a pair of radir 15x4-inch five-spoke wheels up front and 15x10-inch "steelies" on the back.
Rubber: It may be a street car, but making it hook requires some really good rubber. Travis decided to go with Mickey Thompson tires, using a Sportsman front runner and ET Streets with a whopping 31x14.5x15-inch dimension out back.
Body: After Travis acquired the Coronet, he sent it to Straightline Performance in Hagerstown, Maryland, so a six-point cage could be added. the car's trunk was fitted with mini-tubs, and Super Stock springs were mounted underneath.
Paint: When Travis acquired the car, it was already painted. All he did was add his personal touches: the Bass-boat metalflake on the roof and the Von Dutch/Ratfink-inspired striping.
Interior: In true Super Stock fashion, a blue A990-inspired interior is fitted with aluminum work. Auto meter gauges monitor the leftover Hemi parts-bin; a Mooneyes steering wheel is definitely old-school cool. Keeping Travis stuck to the vinyl are M&R seatbelts. No need for a radio or heater, things get noisy and warm enough without them. Mounted to the floor is a Cheetah SCS shifter.