By definition, hot-rodding is a hobby in which a person takes a vehicle and subsequently modifies it to enhance its performance, right? Truth be told, in many cases, these machines, regardless of manufacturer, end up with Brand X motivation. In our travels, we see lots of cars, but this Dodge motivated by 440 inches of tri-carbed RB wedge is what we consider a breath of fresh air.
Owned by Ray and Debbie Snyder of Conifer, Colorado, this Sunkist-hued beast began life on a depression-era Detroit assembly line as a '35 Dodge DU-series two-door sedan. That year, total Dodge production was a grand total of only 158,000 units, meaning that this model is not easy to come by today. When it was "discovered" by the hot rod set, credit for its transformation into a show-stopping tire-fryer went to artisan Jim Page, who also lives in Conifer. Ray somehow managed to talk Jim into selling him the masterpiece when it was done, and Jim attends shows with the Snyders.
When the process started several years ago, the vintage shell was meticulously repaired and straightened by Jim before going into the Queen City of the Rockies for a treatment in Calypso Coral PPG paint by KW Restorations of Denver. As the body was being brought back to better-than-new form, Jim Page rebuilt the original full-frame chassis, retaining the straight front axle (Dodge had given up on the short-lived independent front suspension for '35). This was upgraded with aftermarket disc brakes and a custom four-bar suspension with coil-over shocks, and Jim custom-built a steering system to point the machine in the right direction. Moving rearward, and knowing the factory DP straight-six would soon be history, a narrowed 9-inch differential was installed along with a four-bar system and coil-over shocks. This rear, a Blue Oval design, allows swaps similar to Mopar's 8.75 banjo spanner, and is filled with 4.55 gears while the ends are capped with 11-inch brakes from a station wagon. Lightweight Weld Super Lite wheels shod with Dunlop 185-70-15s in front and big Mickey Thompson 33-19.50-15s out back touch the ground.
For motivation in this purebred, a '69 440 was bored .030 over and refitted with stock rods and a crank that now spin Ross-forged 10.5-1 pistons. A Comp Cams hydraulic bumpstick keeps the valves in time, moving air through a pair of -915 heads that have been ported and bowl-blended. The wow factor comes from a vintage Wieand STR-14 Six Pack tunnel ram on top of it all, supporting the trio of Holleys. "Insurance" comes in the form of a 300hp nitrous kit, which will no doubt even blaze this car's monster M/T meat once transferred through the 727 and B&M converter. Once used, the well-spent gases exit through a set of custom 2-inch headers built by Mr. Page onto the 211/42-inch Flowmaster mufflers.
When it came time for the interior, Jim wanted it posh; Wabbits got the nod for the dash, which houses Classic instrument gauges and supports the under-dash air conditioning. Conservative grey velour with custom stitching covers the front buckets, which themselves were salvaged from some willing donor long ago, and an overhead console houses the radio to let the good tunes roll. Finally, just to be on the safe side, a six-point roll bar made of chrome-moly steel encompasses the cockpit.
There's something about the mountains, and the Front Range outside of Bandimere Raceway where we shot these photos; it was a fitting ancient accompaniment to the upgraded DU. Whether showing or going, Ray and Debbie Snyder can certainly bet that this thoroughbred is a long way from the proverbial glue factory.