Varied interests make the car hobby enjoyable. How fun would cruise nights or car shows be if all vehicles were the same color, body style...? You get the idea.
Fortunately, enthusiasts like Justin Bondurant of High Ridge, Missouri, roam the Mopar realm. Justin, a 20-year-old student and machine shop employee, understands there's something to be said for being ...different. One need look no farther than his '77 Charger Daytona to realize this kid takes the esoteric thing to new extremes. There may be a large portion of hobbyists who don't recognize post-1972s as true musclecars, but in die-hard Mopar spirit, this modified big boy Justin aptly named "Blue Whale" has definitely taken a road less traveled.
When Justin started this project, the Charger Daytona body begged for attention. There was the usual quarter-panel rust, but the real trouble spot was around the T-top openings. Justin and his dad, Marty, tended to the cancerous sheetmetal, then covered the good-as-new body in a two-tone Cadet Blue/Starlight Blue theme. Subtle touches like the absence of the side marker lights and shaved trunk lock are among some of this car's often-overlooked details. To further enhance the exterior appearance, Justin picked a set of 17-inch Centerline Fluted Star wheels wrapped with Bridgestone Potenza rubber to keep the big bruiser firmly planted on the asphalt.
The spacious driving environment follows the modified theme as well. Justin reworked the dash with Autometer gauges and brushed aluminum accents. The stock seats, on the other hand, still carry the original black/gray factory upholstery and provide welcome comfort on those long trips. Speaking of long trips-music is a must. Justin installed a Pioneer stereo unit with a CD player that pumps tunes through Infinity speakers.
To ensure his ride is just as "go" as it is "show," Justin ditched the Charger Daytona's original powerplant and headed down Big-Block Boulevard. He found a '69 440 engine and immediately treated it to a .030 overbore. The stock rods and forged crankshaft are now set to motion by Keith Black hypereutectic pistons, which pull air and fuel through Hughes Stage 1 heads and push spent gas via a Hedman and Edelbrock exhaust system. A Hughes valvetrain manages timing events, with an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake and Holley 3310 carb handling topside flow duties.
Turning atomized fuel into usable power is an MSD 6AL ignition with a billet distributor, and for added insurance on the track or at the stoplight, a nitrous kit offers a healthy back-in-the-seat slam with the flick of a switch.
Sending all of that mass-moving power to the rear is a 727 TorqueFlite augmented with a Dynamic 2800 converter and controlled by a Slapstick shifter from a '72 B-Body. From here, power is channeled to a 9.25 rearend boasting a 3.21:1 gearset.
If you think this 4,000-pound cruiser is no more than a highway hauler, think again. On a sweltering summer day when the thermometer pushed 95 degrees, Justin made his first pass down the quarter-mile. On the bottle, this big brawler turned a 12.20 e.t. at 110 mph.
The Blue Whale? Yeah, you can call it that if you like. Just remember that the weighty comments about Justin Bondurant's '77 Charger Daytona had better end right there.