The lengths some people will go to see themselves in print! Matt Koles of Clinton Township, Michigan, must not have understood that for us, all thats really necessary is to have an attention-getting vehicle thats powerful enough to squawk the tires, and then be in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately for Matt, thats also the formula for getting stopped by the local constabulary on cruise night.
We knew Matt through mutual friend Terry DeLong. Terry kept telling us about how Matts truck was brutally fast and driven on the street every day, including during the Detroit winters. We met Matt, scoped his truck, and agreed with Terry that it needed to be in the magazine. A few months later, we hooked up with him in Detroit at the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise and headed out to shoot his truck. We got the idea that the Chrysler Tech Center might not be a bad spot, and were on our way. While en route, Matt demonstrated the little Magnums ability to hurl the truck down the road, making us believers in the 318. But this kind of performance doesnt just happen by accident.
Starting with the stock 318 block, the holes were punched .030 over and filled with TRW forged pistons and Viper Rods swinging from the stock crank. Heavily massaged Magnum heads were fitted with 2.02/1.65-inch valves and Crower 1.7:1 roller rockers. When we rode in the truck, it still had the stock throttle body on top of the M1 single plane intake being fed by a 93 360 Ram computer. Since then, a new MP 4-bbl throttle body has been installed along with bigger 24 lb./hr. injectors and a new Superchips E-prom in the brain box. A Paxton Kamikaze fuel pump and larger-than-stock ½-inch fuel lines and a Pro Finish cold air hood feeds the Magnum doses of fuel and air. Doug Thorley headers and a custom exhaust expel it. Just for good measure, a single stage Nitrous Express system was installed for when more is better.
Backing it up is a 518 overdrive trans fitted with a Fairbanks converter and a custom shift kit. Suspension mods include a Western Chassis 2-inch drop kit up front, custom-built rear springs with a four-inch drop, and 4.10:1 gears in the 8¼-inch rear end. External modifications are limited to the aforementioned Pro Finish hood, a custom aluminum bed cover, and custom-built Weld Racing wheels shoed with BFG T/A Radials.
Matt told us the engine was installed on a Saturday, fired the following Thursday, and that Sunday it was driven to California for the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. Even though they drove 7,000 miles in two weeks without a hitch, and the truck has run a best time of 11.70 at 116 mph, there is at least one bug left to be worked out. The transmission fluid sometimes gets a little lowwhen it gets in stop and go traffic, the tranny fluid gets hot, and because its low it isnt filling the torque converter like it should. So when you touch the gas to move forward, the engine rpm comes up, but the trans isnt engaged. Then the trans engages real quick, and because the rpm is up, the tires can break loose a little. John Law didnt buy it, so Matts 15 minutes of fame got stretched to a court appearance and a monthly reminder on his insurance premium. But such is the price, eh, Matt?