Picture if you will a sunny Southern California afternoon in 1962. While looking for a new car, you stop at the local Dodge dealership-Boulevard Dodge on El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego. Upon discussing your needs with the salesman, you agree to purchase your car-your way-from them. The order form is filled out with the options you choose.
It's going to be a dark blue 330 two-door sedan sleeper with a cloth and vinyl blue interior. You'd better believe it's gonna be fast because you ordered the 413 Max Wedge engine with a push-button TorqueFlite tranny. Finally the day comes, and the dealership calls you and says the words you've been waiting to hear: "Your car has arrived." You can't believe it, and you head for the lot contemplating what it will be like to drive your new car.
Whether cruising downtown or having a little drag action at Pomona-either way, you can't wait. When you get to the lot, you can't see your car, but the salesman points to a blue '63 and says "there she is." What would you do? You had your heart set on the '62 model.
Dennis Nelson of Valley Center, California, a man who actually lived this scenario, decided to give it a chance. Upon closer inspection, he began to realize everything was the same as he ordered it; it was just a newer model year. Deciding to overlook the fact that it was the wrong year, he further inspected his future ride. After circling the car a few times, he opened the hood. "Oh yeah," the salesman said, "this is a 426 Ramcharger. It replaced the 413." Ahh, more cubes, he thought to himself. The salesman proceeded to tell him the engine was filled with an 11.0:1 compression ratio, dual AFB carburetors on the cross-ram intake, and a solid lifter camshaft with enough lift and duration to make his new car run like a Super Stocker.
The rest of the story goes that Dennis did keep that Dodge, and it was destined to be a daily driver. Like all daily drivers owned by the oblivious gearhead, track time is bound to happen, and in a mere two weeks, the Dodge found itself in the staging lanes at Pomona Raceway. At this first outing, the Dodge posted an impressive 13.08 e.t. at 108 mph on the then high-tech cheater slicks. Another little tidbit is Dennis and his Dodge had lined up against a Bow Tie boy named Hayden Profitt (remember him?) in his 409 Chevy. The car continued to be a daily driver, and in 1988, the diminutive Dodge was treated to a much-needed facelift.
Dennis commissioned Jack Silver to return his treasure to its former glory, and since Dennis is the original owner, he knew exactly what it should look like. The chore of rebuilding the engine was kept at home, with Dennis handling the assembly himself. The 426 was rebuilt to stock specs (since it was meticulously cared for, it was in great shape). When all the finished components were reassembled, the only thing left was to decide what to do with his refurbished Dodge. You guessed it-even though his Dodge is no longer a daily driver, it does see the occasional blast down the quarter-mile (isn't that why they built these things anyway?) and has posted mid-12-second runs at over 100 mph. Dennis has taken something he never asked for and turned it into something he would never get rid of. What would you have done if it were you in 1962?