Just what is the ultimate in Mopar muscle? This question is always sure to spark debate, because there are so many variables. For brute strength, the Hemi reigns supreme in most people's opinions, but there are those who argue that driveability of the 440-6 makes it the better choice. For looks, the darling of the Mopar hobby is the E-Body, but there's something sinister and no-nonsense about the image of the '69-1/2 Superbees and Road Runners, with their monster-scooped lift-off fiberglass hoods and plain steel wheels. But while they were made for quarter-mile blasts, what if sheer top-end speed is your preference? The obvious favorites are the wing cars. So what happens if you start talking about mixing in the new stuff, too? Can anyone argue the superiority of the Viper? What about Dodge's awesome 488-cube V-10; either the Viper's all-aluminum piece or the truck's iron version? It's no wonder bench racing is a motorhead's favorite pastime!
We can say, with a fair amount of confidence, that at one time or another every Mopar enthusiast out there has at least thought about the idea of combining the best of both old and new, and the combination they've talked about is right here--a V-10-powered E-Body. Conceived by everyone, the team to actually step up and do it was Ray Staveski, his son Mike, and Richie Brandl, owners of Time Machines in Hudson, Florida. But it didn't start out with this being the end goal. "It was originally a father/son thing with me and my dad," says Mike. "We were partners on this car, and it was going to be a Hemi 'Cuda convertible replica. But we were partners on another car, too, and my dad started driving that one all the time. I thought it was too nice to be driven daily, so I bought out his half on the other car, and he bought me out of the Challenger. I like to drive them occasionally and enjoy them, but he thinks nothing of driving the cars all the time."
Since the car was under new ownership, so to speak, Richie suggested to Ray that instead of putting a Hemi under the hood, he might want to take a walk on the wild side and drop a V-10 between the fenders. Ray liked the idea, and work began. The car body chosen for the transformation started life as a 318/automatic convertible. By the time Time Machines got a hold of it, it was "very, very rough," Richie says. "The car was rotted pretty bad; there were holes everywhere." Because the car is a convertible, there weren't a lot of patch panels available. So shop manager Phil Somers and the crew went to work and fabricated what they couldn't buy, which was everything but the trunk floor and floor pans. The list of new metal includes inner wheelwells, the back panel between the rear window and the trunk lid, and the bottom edges of the doors. Additionally, they fabricated the area where the top attaches to the inner panels, the inner structure below the back panel, the windshield channel, and the door jambs.
Essentially, they built the car around a couple of door hinges and the convertible top mechanism! Along the way, they readied the car for it's V-10 powerplant by putting in sub-frame connectors to keep the floor from buckling. They additionally stiffened the body by reinforcing the rockers and the rear quarters by the door jamb--inside the panels. The trans tunnel and firewall were modified to clear the V-10/518 automatic overdrive trans. The right side shock tower was modified to clear the exhaust header, and an original Shaker hood and scoop were readied. After all the body work was complete, it was coated with DuPont's Plum Crazy hue.
One of the hardest parts of the project was locating the engine. A six month, nation-wide search finally produced a V-10 and automatic trans from a wrecked '95 4x4. Once the motor was found,engine and tranny mounts were fabricated, and the steering column was modified with components from Borgeson Universal Company to clear the Mopar Performance V-10 headers. Rich says that no modifications to the original Hemi K-member were necessary to drop the V-10 on it, just custom mounts. "I'll cut up anything, except a Hemi K-member. Some things are sacred!" Rich designed a custom intake plenum, and his friend, Gary Will, machined it. A custom computer program was burned by Superchips in Longwood, Florida. "One problem we had was initially getting the engine to fire," Rich says. "We have no idea how long that engine sat before we got it, but the injectors wouldn't work. They had power and fuel going to them, but it wouldn't fire. Finally, we tapped them, one at a time, with a hammer, and they started working!" When in doubt, break out the persuader! Flowmaster mufflers are employed to quiet the beast. A full Hemi suspension, including a 3.55-geared Dana 60 and huge torsion bars handles the brute force and weight of the V-10, while original rear drums and custom-fit late-model Mopar front discs bring it to a halt. BFGoodrich tires, a Hemi radiator and an electric fan are employed to make the daily driving better, and a Hurst Quarter Stick shifter was modified to run the A-518. The interior was brought back with parts from Year One, and new door, quarter, and kick panels from Accu-Form.
It's been completed for over a year now, and Ray has been racking up the miles. "He jumps into it and will drive to a show 500 miles away," says Mike. "And it'll boil those rear tires. The smoke just comes pouring out from the quarter panels" Richie adds. But what would you expect with 279 rear-wheel horsepower at 5100 rpm and 314 lb-ft of torque at 4660 rpm? Is it the ultimate in Mopar muscle? We'll withhold final judgment for now, but after piloting it back to the office from the photo location, all we can say is if this isn't it, it's right up there at the top!