By the time automotive designer Jack Irons Jr. was in seventh grade, he knew what car he wanted. His father, Jack Irons Sr., had amassed a collection of old Mopars and wanted to save one for his son as a project.
Jack Sr. purchased the B-Body in Troy, Michigan, from friend and original owner, Ron Rizzo, in 1987. The car had been hit in the rear quarter-panel in 1973, and sat unrepaired until it was purchased by the elder Irons. This "time in waiting" took its toll on the car and rusted out the bottom half of the quarters. The doors had rust, and the front framerail had become weak. It was a good car to start with, but the younger Irons would have his work cut out for him when he eventually found time to dedicate to the project.
It wasn't until the winter of 2000 that the younger Irons was able to tear into the car and completely strip it for the restoration. But then school and other projects began to take up his time, so the car had to sit yet again. The revitalization of the project didn't come until December 2005, when father and son inspected every inch of the car and concluded the car's front framerails were too rusty and not capable of handling the power that would be thrown at it. So the younger Irons fabricated new framerails as well as chromemoly subframe connectors to tie the front and rear framerails together. His schooling paid off when he was able to design a 12-point rollcage using 3D CAD software. The NHRA-certified rollcage was designed to be welded to the frame structure rather than the sheetmetal floor.
With the lion's share of the chassis work taken care of, the elder Irons took over with the bodywork, paint, and body panel installation. New quarter-panels were welded on, and the car was bolted to a homemade rotisserie. Then the entire car was media-blasted to strip all the original paint and prepare it for the bodywork. The elder Irons provided "laser-straight" results to the entire car before he covered it in a color that can only be called Sinister Black. The car was removed from the rotisserie, and the new front suspension was attached. During this assembly process, the old, factory rear suspension was used temporarily just to get the car rolling.
Jack Irons Jr.'s then-girlfriend, Allison, focused on the interior. She reupholstered the seats with Legendary Auto Interiors covers, replaced the carpet, and prepped the rest of the original interior items for installation. In an effort to make the driver and the lucky passenger feel a bit safer in the car, the factory seats are equipped with racing harnesses-a must for the quarter-mile speeds this GTX is capable of. The factory steering wheel and even the back seat were left in place. Jack Irons Sr. says, "We wanted to retain as much of the original appearance as possible." The audio system was also upgraded with a hidden iPod connection and Polk 6x9 speakers wired to the factory radio controls.
The GTX receives its temporary motivation from a 500ci Chrysler RB big-block. The younger Irons tossed the factory internals for quality performance parts. The cast-iron block was punched out to a 4.370-inch bore, and the main journals received billet caps. A forged-steel, 4.150-inch, Callies crankshaft spins inside the mains. Finally, 11.0:1 compression CP pistons and factory length GRP aluminum connecting rods were used to round out the bottom end.
The factory iron heads were replaced in favor of aluminum Indy cylinder heads. These were treated to a Max Wedge port and feature Manly 2.19-inch intake and 1.81-inch exhaust valves with LSM valvesprings. Controlling the valve events is a secret spec LSM mechanical roller camshaft and 1.6-ratio Indy aluminum roller rocker arms. This was all topped off with an Indy 440-2 intake manifold and Holley 850 carburetor.
American Racing Pro Series...
American Racing Pro Series wheels set off the car and make for an excellent drag wheel. Little details such as these keep you focused on the black beauty.
This 500ci Mopar powerplant...
This 500ci Mopar powerplant features two separate ignition systems-one for the street and one for the strip.