True speed freaks are never content. It's like a drug that you build your immunity to, and have to push the limits even further as you increase your tolerance. When a speed freak decides to build a Mopar, they usually start slow. As the addiction takes over all bodily functions, you become consumed in the drug and you end up with a car so far from where you started, you sit in the corner of your dark bedroom rocking back and forth telling yourself "it's going to be OK." For Chris Carlson, this scenario may have played out a little differently-sans rocking back and fourth, but the end result is the same-one extreme Challenger.
Chris' Challenger started life as a 340 Rallye car that was B5 Blue. When he got it, the paint was in poor shape and there was a little rust on the doors and quarters. "I couldn't believe a northern car was in such good shape with very little rust," he recalls. It didn't take long before he was tweaking the small-block and making the E-Body look better. "I had the panels replaced and painted it Plum Crazy. It had some of the ugliest interior you have ever seen. It was plaid blue, and I didn't change it when I painted the car Plum, so you can imagine," he jests.
He ignored the eyesore inside his car to focus on getting the Challenger moving. This started simple with a few bolt-ons, and it wasn't long before he was installing a nitrous bottle in his trunk and spraying in an additional 150-horse kick in the pants. With the car smoking the tires, Chris decided to paint the car again and selected a cool pale orange that was commonly confused for pink. "That got to be too much, and I just had to change it again."
This time he decided to just build the car from the ground up. "I realized it was time to redo the whole thing from the inside out." This started with his color option. Back when Plymouth was still kickin', they produced an underpowered hot rod called the Prowler. Plymouth only offered them in a handful of colors and one of them was called Prowler Flame Orange Metallic-offered in 2000. He sent the car to Barton Collision in Spokane, Washington, where it was media blasted and sprayed with this color. They installed a T/A-style hood, front and rear fiberglass spoilers, and a flip-top gas cap. The bumpers were rechromed by Tripple Plate in Spokane. Once it was out of the paint booth, Barton Collision applied new Rallye door "strobe" decals.
The plaid blue interior has...
The plaid blue interior has been scrapped in favor of a more subdued black color from a donor car.
Chris took the car home and began to tear down the suspension to construct a chassis strong enough for its soon-to-be-added power. With the help of his brother, C.W., and friend, Mike Ethridge, they completely revamped the suspension. All the bushings were replaced with poly pieces, and heavy-duty sway bars from Firm Feel were installed along with Edelbrock Performance shocks on all corners. Up front, the factory control arms were replaced with CAP Automotive upper and lower tubular control arms supported by heavy duty Torsion bars and a "firm feel" steering box.
The rear was extensively modified to make room for the large, 11-inch-wide rear tires. A Mopar Performance spring relocation kit was put in place, and big-block leaf springs were installed to help put down the power and make the car sit with a killer stance. Shelley's Performance in Spokane installed a custom 8 3/4-inch housing with Moser Axles, 3.55 Motive gears, and a Detroit True-Trac. With the suspension all buttoned up, it was capped off with a set of custom J-Line wheels measuring 17x8 up front and 17x11 rear. The wheels wear Michelin Pilot Sport 255- and 335-series tires, respectively. Sitting behind the massive wheels are 12-inch Wilwood rotors with four-piston calipers to slow the Challenger down quickly.
The "hideous" interior was finally going to be addressed as Chris, C.W., and Mike began tossing plaid bits and pieces out onto the garage floor. "I figured the best idea was to buy a donor car with black interior instead of buying everything new. What I couldn't find or use, I purchased through YearOne." He found a '72 donor car and was able to use its carpet, headliner, trim pieces, and kick panels, but everything else was recovered or replaced. "What we pulled out of the donor was replaced with the plaid pieces from my car. We painted them black and sold it," he claims. The front seats were found in a Jeg's catalog and are A/R Racing buckets with custom upholstery from Fast Recovery in Spokane, and the steering wheel is a leather-wrapped Tuff wheel. Chris didn't forget the sound system and put in a mixture of Pioneer and Kenwood components, CD player, and subwoofers. The gauge cluster was rebuilt, recalibrated, and resurfaced by AutoInstruments.com.
With the rest of the car out of the way, he could once again give into his healthy obsession-power. A new Mopar Performance 360 Magnum block was given to Brian Rothmund at Shelley's Performance, and was bored .030-over and filled with forged JE Pistons, forged Eagle H-beam rods, and a forged Eagle stroker crankshaft. Final displacement came to 408 inches and was ready for boost. The ProCharger kit was modified and bypasses the intercooler. "When the kit showed up and I picked up the intercooler, I thought it was just too heavy and large. I didn't want to cut the car and put all this weight on the front end. That's when Brian suggested I run a methanol injection kit," Chris says. The methanol would cool the inlet air and also increase his octane rating, allowing him to run pump gas and get away without an intercooler. The kit was sourced from Snow Performance and uses a 1.5-gallon tank mounted in the trunk. Fuel delivery is also key, so Chris didn't skimp there either. An Aeromotive A-1000 pump using a 1/2-inch Mopar Performance sending unit sends the fuel up to a modified Holley 750-cfm carburetor built for boost.
A 408-cubic inch small-block...
A 408-cubic inch small-block with a ProCharger can get you into a lot of trouble.
The air and fuel are forced into an M-1 single plane intake, then onto ported Magnum R/T heads. A .544/.555-inch lift 232/242-degreee duration Comp Cam on a 114 lobe angle opens the valves and releases the exhaust into tti headers with Dynomax mufflers. Sitting behind the engine is a rebuilt 727 TorqueFlite with a Gear Vendors overdrive, making his 727 a six-speed automatic. A full MSD ignition was installed and then the car was strapped to a dyno for tuning. Without the assistance of the NOS nitrous kit, the Challenger sent 605 hp to the rear wheels. This was enough motivation to propel him to 11.22 at 127 mph at the Mopars at the Strip event in Las Vegas in 2009.
Now that the 15-year project is completed, Chris can sit back and start enjoying his Challenger on the streets of Spokane. "I built the car to do everything well. I wanted it to win car shows, drag race, road race, and autocross. It does just that." At the 2009 MATS in Vegas, Chris took first place in the E-Body Modified class and that got our attention. Chris' Challenger goes to show that not all addictions are bad, especially not ones that involve going fast in a '72 Challenger.
'72 Dodge Challenger
Car Owner: Chris Carlson Spokane, WA
- Engine: The original block was toast, and Chris opted for a '95 360 Magnum crate engine as his starting point and sent it to Shelley's Performance. To achieve 408 cubic inches, the bore was honed out .030-over and stroke length was increased to 4 inches. Since the path Chris would take on his second engine build would be different, the engine was built to take more punishment than last time. Forged JE pistons attached to forged Eagle H-Beam rods are bolted to a forged Eagle Stroker crankshaft. A ProCharger kit forces air into the modified Holley 750-cfm carburetor bolted to the M-1 intake manifold. Cooling and fueling are assisted by a Snow Performance Methanol injection kit. The mixture is then directed into a pair of ported Magnum R/T heads with Crane 1.6 rockers. An off-the-shelf Comp Cams camshaft was slid inside to command the valves. Its grind specs are .544/.555 232/242 on a 114 LSA. Once the mixture is in the chamber, a full MSD ignition converts it into energy. It's controlled by an MSD Digital 6 box that incorporates a rev-limiter and an MSD multi-step timing retard selector with different timing settings for the blower and the nitrous. The exhaust is sent into tti headers and an aluminized exhaust with Dynomax mufflers.
- Transmission: Shelley's Performance rebuilt the 727 transmission and reinstalled the anti-ballooning 3,500-stall converter. A Gear Vendors overdrive adds under/overdrive to keep rpm down on the highway.
- Differential: Shelley's Performance built a custom 8 3/4-inch housing with Moser axles, 3.55 Motive gears, and a Detroit Tru-Trac differential.
- Suspension: All bushings were replaced with polyurethane, and the shocks were replaced with Edelbrock performance shocks. The front end features a heavy-duty sway bar, heavy-duty torsion bars, and CAP Automotive tubular upper and lower control arms. The rear uses big-block springs mounted inboard with a Mopar Performance relocation kit to make room for wider tires. A Firm Feel rear sway bar keeps the Challenger glued through the corners.
- Brakes: 12-inch Wilwood rotors and four-piston calipers.
- Paint and Body: The doors and quarters were repaired from rust damage. A T/A-style scoop was added in addition to fiberglass front and rear spoilers. The car was sent to Barton Collision to be stripped and sprayed down in Prowler Flame Orange. After paint, Rallye stripes were applied
- Interior: The blue plaid interior is long gone. Black parts from a donor '72 and new parts from YearOne have revamped the interior. A leather wrapped steering wheel, A/R Racing seats, and a Pioneer/Kenwood stereo make the interior a bit more comfortable. Auto Instruments rebuilt the gauges and Fast Recovery recovered the seats.