"Best Ever." Seems like we've seen that term used a lot to describe the '68 Dodge Charger. Starting with Ma Mopar's sales-number-counters, who saw the '68s sales easily top those of the wedge-fastback '66s and '67s combined, totaling some 96,100 Chargers and new-for-'68 Charger R/Ts-a total which would only be topped by Charger's biggest-ever sales year of 1973.
But, how do you improve on the best? If you're XV Motorsports, you continue the work started with their two E-Body Challengers and apply it to the larger B-Body platform.
To begin this project, XV Motorsports started with a '68 Charger, took it apart down to its bare, cold-rolled-steel unibody, and made an already stiff body even more resistant to the twisting effects of the road and engine torque. That meant adding an engine compartment brace, laser-cut subframe connectors, a front lower frame support/radiator crossmember, and an inner fender shock tower brace-all of them designed, engineered and made by XV Motorsports.
Once the Charger's unibody was reinforced, XV then added its Level II Suspension package. Up front, their own aluminum K-member replaced the stock steel one, and onto it went much more of their developed-in-house hardware: Aluminum upper and lower A-arms, aluminum spindles, adjustable coil-over shocks, a custom front anti-roll bar with billet mounts, plus a quick-ratio, variable-rate power steering rack and an adjustable bumpsteer kit.
In back, XV added their three-link billet aluminum lower links and adjustableupper link, an adjustable Panhard bar, plus-like in front-a custom anti-roll bar and a pair of adjustable coil-over shocks.
Sounds a lot like what went under their Challengers, doesn't it? "A bunch of the components are interchangeable (between E-Body and B-Body applications), just like the stock stuff," says XV's John Buscema. "As far as the package for handling, they're different." John spells out the main differences between their B-Body and E-Body suspension packages: "They have different shock valving and spring rates. All of this stuff was four-post tested and track tested. So, the spring rates and shock valving are specific to each platform."
Modern-day 600hp Hemi displaces...
Modern-day 600hp Hemi displaces 6 liters (366 cubic inches) and is nestled beneath XV's shock-tower reinforcing bar.
All that chassis hardware would go great with any of the engines that Ma Mopar plugged into the '68 Charger at Hamtramck or St. Louis-everything from the 318-inch LA-series small-block to the 426 Hemi. But XV wanted this Charger to have an even more powerful and efficient powertrain. In went a 6.0L Hemi Magnum that they built, filling it with forged pistons and rods, XV's own main stud and head stud kits, and a performance camshaft and extended-rpm valvespring package. Also going on-during hand-assembly in XV Motorsports' Irvington, New York, shop-were their own-design single-plane intake manifold, billet aluminum EFI throttle body and oil pan, along with their custom-tuned electronic engine management system that boasts EFI and a distributorless, coil-on-plug ignition system.
Backing this Hemi is a first for an XV-built car: an automatic transmission. This four-speed-with-overdrive, electronically-controlled box uses XV's custom programming, and is stirred by a stock '68 shifter located in a custom floor console. Out back, XV added a heavy-duty 8 3/4-inch rear that was also built in-house, featuring alloy axle shafts, a Sure Grip differential with a heavy-duty clutch pack and 3.91:1 gears and synthetic gear lube, all inside a nodular iron centersection and black powdercoated housing.
But wait-there's more! In each wheelwell, you'll find XV's Level II disc brake package (with 14-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers in front. 14-inch rotors/2-piston calipers in back, a Hydroboost booster, and stainless steel hard lines/ braided hoses), backing a set of three-piece forged Kinesis wheels and Y-speed-rated (to 186 mph) Michelin Pilot Sport tires.
21st Century chassis technology...
21st Century chassis technology is right at home under this '68 Charger. Aluminum control arms and other hardware save weight while improving handling immensely.
Inside, the interior's even more special than what came in any factory Charger SE. That means Recaro buckets in front and the stock rear bench seat-plus the door and side panels, A-pillars and kick panels upholstered in light stone gray leather, custom wool carpeting, a custom console housing the Alpine sound system's head unit, an ultrasuede headliner, custom leather dash pad, billet steering wheel, and a custom gauge cluster built around a 0-200 mph speedometer and a 0-10,000 rpm tach.
With all this inside, do you think XV Motorsports' paint shop would spray on something like Boredom Beige or Minivan Mauve? (We didn't think so either.) They applied their own blend of Brighter-Than-Bright Red in a show-quality paint job, then put in new glass all around plus repro (or restored) chrome trim pieces.
At the heart of XV's level...
At the heart of XV's level II front suspension on their '68 Charger is the aluminum K-member, a stronger piece which weighs less than the OEM one did.
In all, XV's Level II Charger's build took about a year and a half, from start to finish. What's it like to drive? "That car handles like a new car," John says without hesitation. "With that suspension setup in it, all done up with the chassis stiffening, the car handles like a new car does."
How do you show off what is possibly The Best B-Body Ever? By taking it on a tour of The World's Greatest City. In this case, John and photographer Richard Price made a trip south from Irvington to Manhattan, arriving at an hour when-in year's past-the "Milkman's Matinee" would be on the radio. "We did it early in the morning on a Sunday," says John. "We got there at 6:00 a.m., and before anything was happening, we shot on Park Avenue. We pulled up in front of the Waldorf, and we asked the doorman if we could shoot in front of there. He was actually pretty cool, and he said, 'Yeah, sure-no sweat,' and he started chasing people away!"
Leather-wrapped billet steering...
Leather-wrapped billet steering wheel spins a quick-ratio power rack-and-pinion steering setup, while acres of leather cover just about every interior surface.
Custom console combines a '68-vintage shifter for the 4-speed OD automatic with the Alpine sound system's head unit. Carpets are custom wool ones, while console and kick panels are covered in leather to match the seats.
One more thing to say about XV's Level II Charger: You can do one yourself, as XV's got all the chassis hardware grouped in package form, available for you to purchase and install. Or, if you want XV's shop to do it, they can install their hardware-contact them for more information.
XV Level II '68 Dodge Charger
Built by: XV Motorsports, Irvington, New York
- Engine: Yeah, it's got a Hemi-XV Motorsports' hand-built, 500 hp 6.1L Hemi, filled with plenty of their own hardware (like forged rods and pistons, and a performance camshaft), and topped with their custom-tuned electronic fuel injection system.
- Transmission: A computer-controlled, four-speed overdrive automatic with XV's own custom programming
- Rearend: A heavy duty 8 3/4-inch rear end, whose nodular iron case is filled with a 3.91-geared SureGrip, and boasting alloy axle shafts and wheel studs.
- Suspension: XV's Level II suspension package: (Front) XV's aluminum K-member is joined by double A-arms, aluminum spindles, adjustable coil-overs, custom front anti-roll bar, quick-ratio power rack-and-pinion steering, and an adjustable bump steer kit. (Rear) XV's three-link billet aluminum lower links/adjustable upper link, adjustable Panhard bar, adjustable coil-overs and custom rear anti-roll bar
- Brakes: XV's Level II Brake System (featuring 14-inch rotos/6-piston calipers in front, 13-inch rotors/2-piston calipers in back and a Hydroboost power brake booster) stops this Charger the same way Mariano Rivera stops the Red Sox in the 9th.
- Wheels and Tires: Polished three-piece forged Kinesis wheels (18 x 10 inches in front, 18 x 12 inches in back) wear a set of Michelin Pilot Sport tires (285/35-18 front, 335/30-18 rear) that are Y speed rated to 186 mph.
If this looks a lot like the...
If this looks a lot like the front suspension on the E-Body Challengers, you're right. XV uses different shock valving and spring rates on their B-Body suspension systems.
- Body: XV added their subframe connectors, engine compartment brace, lower radiator support/frame rail connector and inner fender shock tower brace to an original, all-steel '68 Charger unibody. All the glass is new, and the trim is either new or restored original.
- Paint: XV's own blend of Brighter-Than-Bright Red, sprayed on at their Irvington, New York shop.
- Interior: When only the best will do: Custom-leather-upholstered Recaro front buckets flank an XV custom console (that contains the high-zoot Alpine sound system's head unit), the stock back seat got the same custom leather as the fronts, the carpets are custom wool ones, plus there's a custom leather dash pad, ultrasuede headliner, leather-wrapped billet steering wheel, and a custom gauge cluster with an 0-200 mph speedometer, 0-10,000 rpm tach, and oil pressure/coolant temperature/voltmeter/fuel level gauges. Other goodies: A/C, auto-dimming rear-view mirror (with a video screen for the rear backup camera), front/rear radar detectors and laser diffuser, plus power windows/locks.