Dream jobs. They can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For motorheads, being professionally employed in the motorsports business would be a real kick. Living that dream is Jeff Guenther, who earns his paycheck in Huntersville, North Carolina, the heart of Nextel Cup racing, as an engine assembler for Joe Gibbs Racing. When he isn't spinning wrenches on high-rpm Brand X mills for the NFL coach, he's got this little Barracuda he plays with.
When you work as an engine...
When you work as an engine assembler for a NASCAR team, making over 500 horsepower from a .030-inch overbored 340 seems easy.
"I have always liked the '68 Super Stock Barracudas, but I couldn't afford to buy one," says the 41-year-old. "My goal was to make the car a restomod with a Super Stock feel to it."
After buying the car in 1994 for $2,500 and beginning the work on it in 2006, it would be ten years before it was finished. Them NASCAR boys keep guys like Jeff real busy. A long time association with the Mopar breed runs through the Guenther family. Jeff's uncle Kip was the "Guenther" on Ed Miller's championship-winning Plymouth back in 1967.
Jeff, of course, designed and assembled the engine in the Formula S fish, starting out with a '70-era block. But he also called on some of his buddies in the NASCAR and drag racing world, notably Pro Stock driver Jason Line, who pulled an actual 502 hp off the end of the crankshaft on this mill on the DTS dyno at Ken Black's KB Racing. Oh, we forgot to mention, other than a .030-inch cleanup, this is a stock displacement 340!
Taking a closer look, Jeff explained that Eric Maij at KB Racing (where Line works with World Champ Greg Anderson) extensively massaged the OE forged Chrysler crankshaft, pulling 500 grams off the counterweights for a true bob weight of just 1,780 grams; that 500 ponies came up at a buzzing but stable 6,800 rpm. The reciprocating pieces include JE pistons set right at a zero deck height in the line-honed-and-decked block, NASCAR-type Manley rods, and ARP bolts, all of which Eric balanced. A Comp mechanical roller cam specs out at .236 degrees on intake and .247 degrees on the exhaust at .050 inch went into the middle of the short-block. The rest of the specs are on a "need to know" basis, and apparently we don't need to know.
Next, Todd Ames at KB got tagged for the heads, a set of Edelbrock aluminum units that were thoroughly ported and then flow benched. Hardware for the valvetrain included Crane 1.6 ratio roller rockers and 5/16-inch pushrods, Comp Cams retainers and dual valvesprings, and Ferrea stainless valves. Mancini Racing came up with the timing outfit, and a six-quart oil pan rounds it out.
Custom stainless headers fit...
Custom stainless headers fit like a glove. There's a lot of bends, but they fit.
For induction, a Mopar single-plane intake ported by Joe Gibbs Racing intake specialist Rick Gurr matched with a Willy's-prepped 750 carburetor tops it off. The headers and exhaust are a work of art; NASCAR header builder Pro-Fabrication did that in 1.75- and 1.875-inch stainless steel tubing, and it looks like some sort of post-apocalyptic tuba; they are one-of-a-kind as well. The battery was moved to the trunk, while ignition chores are handled by MSD, Champion, and Delphi-Packard pieces.
The rest of the driveline consists of the Tremec TKO 600 five-speed stirred by a shortened floor-mounted Pistol Grip-style Keisler handle and an 8 3/4 rear with 3.91 gears.
However, Jeff also knows enough about stock cars that this one would benefit from some chassis tune-up as well, starting with Calvert bars in the rear and Edelbrock IAS shocks in all four corners. A Firm Feel steering box was added, and BF Goodrich T/A G-Force tires were selected to keep the 'Cuda stuck to the pavement. The final touch was a set of wide American Racing Torque Thrust II wheels for the retromod look.