In recent years, Daniel Daigneault had a dream to build a grey Charger with a red interior. He previously owned a similar car and made the decision to part ways with the B-Body for family reasons. Later in life, things began to settle down as he and his family moved from Montreal to Florida. "I kept seeing all these classic cars around me when I was in Florida and I got the passion for the Charger again," he says. This fueled his search to find his dream muscle car.
Daniel started his search in Florida but wasn't left with very many leads. He couldn't find what he was looking for but knew of a black '66 with red interior up in British Columbia, Canada. The seller was asking a fair price considering its condition, but it was far away and not exactly like the one he was looking for. "I decided to call [the owner] just for fun and we continued to talk for three months and negotiate a price," he recalls. It's always hard to purchase anything site unseen, so he enlisted an inspector to check out the Charger before he sent up the check. It checked out and a month and a half later, it was being unloaded in his driveway.
It was a non A/C car and was powered by a 318 with an automatic transmission. He drove the car like that for about five years but in the back of his mind, he knew he wanted more. An issue of Mopar Muscle kept finding its way into his hands every month and this got the gears turning. "I began to cut out anything that I thought might be cool to have on the Charger. These clippings continued to grow until I had amassed a 'Charger Bible,' " he jokes. After four years of dreaming, Daniel felt it was time to get the ball rolling. His first plan was to enlist a new product from a company called Kovalt that increased the number of valves on a set of Chrysler heads from 16 to 32. This new four-valve setup was just what he wanted and he figured he would buy a 440 to put the heads on. Unfortunately, the man who developed the setup passed away before Daniel was able to order them, so the heads weren't available.
Now it was back to the drawing board on what would motivate his Charger. He cracked open his "Charger Bible" and began to look for an alternative. If he couldn't run a 32-valve 440, he was going to run a Hemi. "My wife didn't even know what a Hemi was, but she told me that if it's what I wanted, I needed to get it." He dismantled the Dodge in his driveway by himself in three days during October 2005. The body was sent out to Patrick Dupuis of Classic Coach Works in Mount Dora, Florida. He met Patrick at a car show in Florida, and they immediately hit it off and Daniel trusted him to do the job right.
Daniel went to the DMV to select a custom plate for his Charger but "426 Hemi" was taken. Not to be discouraged, "Hemi 528" was available so he purchased it. This meant he needed to build a monster Hemi, a Mega Hemi to be more precise.
A San Diego engine builder, who Daniel wishes to remain nameless, was conscripted to build the 528. The promised date of completion of eight weeks was overshot by an additional ten weeks, putting a delay on the project. The engine finally arrived in February 2006 and he had the car painted in June.
During the finally assembly process, Daniel completely restored the interior and added a surplus of aftermarket parts to the Dodge. This ensured it wasn't just another pretty car with a Hemi in it. Nope, it would be able to perform just as well as it looked. The automatic transmission wasn't put back in the car either. Instead, a Keisler five-speed manual was placed behind the 528. Three months later, the car was completely together. "All the parts went together very smoothly and I found almost all my ideas in Mopar Muscle," he claims.
The custom Budnick Groove...
The custom Budnick Groove wheels add a g-machine look to this capable Charger.
They didn't have a custom...
They didn't have a custom plate that read 426 Hemi so Daniel was forced to build a 528.
Florida isn't nearly as cool...
Florida isn't nearly as cool as Canada, so a muscle car without A/C won't cut it. This Billet Specialties polished serpentine kit includes an A/C system from Classic Auto Air.
Daniel did the restoration...
Daniel did the restoration of this Metallic Red interior himself.
Have the time?
The Charger has been completed for about two years now. Daniel built the car from the ground up with style, performance, and handling all in a classic package. It truly is a dream muscle car and he enjoys showing it off every chance he gets. With his selection of parts, it's an incredibly smooth and aggressive cruiser at home on the streets of Florida.
'66 Dodge Charger
Owned by Daniel Daigneault, St. Cloud, Florida
Engine: The 528ci Hemi uses a new Mopar Performance Mega Block. Bore was increased to 4.50-inches and filled with Mopar Performance 10.25:1 compression pistons. Mopar connecting rods and a 4.15-inch stroke crankshaft complete the bottom end. A custom Comp Cams camshaft was ground to .534/.517-inch lift and 244/244-degrees of duration. Mopar Performance aluminum Hemi heads sit on top and the engine runs on a Mopar Electric Ignition system. The exhaust comes from tti and has been ceramic coated. The headers utilize 2 1/4-inch primary tubes that combine at a 3 1/2-inch collector and flow into a 3-inch stainless steel exhaust system with Dynomax mufflers.
Transmission: The automatic transmission was replaced with a Keisler Engineering five-speed manual with a dual disc Ram clutch. The floor board had to be slightly modified to fit the new transmission, and a preproduction '70 pistol grip Hurst shifts gears.
Suspension and Brakes: Suspension performance has been taken up a notch thanks to KYB Gas-A-Just shocks at all corners. A Just Suspension front suspension kit improves front stability while a Firm Feel Torsion bar and sway bar kit add control. In the rear, Mopar Performance XHD leaf springs, Competition Engineering Slide-A-Links, and a Firm Feel sway bar tighten things up. A Stage II Firm Feel power steering kit provides smooth steering while Wilwoon Dynalite Pro Series front and rear disc brakes slow down the 3,900-pound B-Body. The 8 3/4-inch rearend houses a Detroit Locker Truetrac with 3.91 gears and stock axles.
Wheels: A massive set of custom Budnick Groove wheels measuring 18x8-inch fronts and 18x10-inch rears fill the wheelwells and provide intense grip. Toyo T1-R tires are fitted to the deep-dish wheels and offer modern wet and dry performance.
Paint and Body: The body was in good shape when Daniel took ownership, but it was sent out to Classic Coach Works in Mount Dora, Florida. There, Patrick Dupuis assessed the bodywork and applied the BBQ1 Black paint to the factory Chrysler body. The only modification was the addition of a small, aluminum NASCAR lip spoiler.
Interior: Daniel tackled the metallic red interior on his own. Legendary Interiors parts and seats covers were used while an A1 Carpets replacement kit covers the floors. This is a radio delete car but it now benefits from a Classic Auto Air AC system-plumbing was recently completed. The steering wheel is original.