No matter how fast or good looking our cars are, we always want to improve them. This mont
As gearheads, no matter what kind of Mopar we drive, we want it to look and perform its best. But with so many aftermarket parts available these days, how do we decide how to best spend our hard-earned cash? By now we all know there are certain upgrades that offer big performance gains, but there are also plenty of parts on the market whose performance gains can't be backed up with hard numbers. So, before you run out and purchase the "Tornado" to greatly improve performance and fuel economy, you might want to follow along as we outline our top 10 modifications and parts that are guaranteed to help your car accelerate, handle, stop, and look better, without costing you an arm and a leg.
We all want more power, so several of our top 10 performance upgrades have to do with maki
1. Headers And Exhaust
One of the best ways to wake up the engine in your Mopar is to install headers and free-flowing exhaust. Factory manifolds, even the high-performance style, are simply too restrictive to let a high-performance V-8 breathe properly, so installing headers is one of the best ways to free up some power. Bolting on a set of headers is one of the first upgrades we usually perform on our cars, not only for improved performance now, but to support future engine upgrades as well.
Of course, to benefit from the gains that headers offer, a free-flowing exhaust should be installed. Even a mild small-block can benefit from a good 2.5-inch dual exhaust system, and again, the results are even more dramatic as future engine modifications take place. These days we're lucky to drive Mopars, as companies like TTI can provide quality, mandrel bent, high-performance exhaust systems for about the same price as having an exhaust shop install dual exhaust.
2. Counting Carbs (And Intakes)
The factory carburetors on our Mopars were designed as a compromise of performance, economy, and economics, so chances are your car will perform better with an improved induction system. Barry Grant, Holley, and Edelbrock all offer new carburetors which will certainly match your engine better than the factory carb does. For the money, a new carb will give you better performance and drivability, while improving economy as well.
With the exception of a few Six-Pack-equipped cars, factory intake manifolds were manufactured from heavy cast-iron, so an aluminum replacement will save weight in addition to providing added performance. If your car was originally equipped with a two-barrel, a swap to a four-barrel intake and carburetor is definitely a good choice. Dual-plane intakes offer low-end torque and drivability, and for all-out power, a good single-plane intake will do the trick.
A good set of dual exhaust, like the TTI system we recently installed on a big-block Barra
3. A Bigger Cam
Factory Chrysler engines are blessed with some of the largest diameter lifters of any engine manufactured during the musclecar era. Unfortunately, camshaft technology of the era didn't exploit this advantage. These days, however, there are plenty of cam designs on the market that will greatly improve power without sacrificing drivability. Even better, companies like Comp Cams have help lines so their engineers can assist in choosing the perfect cam for your combination. Though easier on the engine stand, a cam swap isn't too tough to perform with the engine in the car. For the money, a more aggressive cam is one of the best ways to improve engine power.
4. It's All In Tune
We know our readers have mixed emotions about modern Mopars, but if you're fortunate enough to own one, adding power can be as easy as plugging in a lamp. Modern cars use computers to control the fuel/air ratio, ignition timing, shift points, and other performance parameters, so these parameters are easily changed by reprogramming the computer. Several companies offer programmers for Mopar cars and trucks equipped with the new Hemi engine, and we've seen impressive results ourselves by using aftermarket computer programmers.
Quality headers make a big difference, especially when future modifications are planned. E
5. Heads, You Win!
In the not-to-distant past, those of us who were modifying Mopar engines had only factory cylinder heads to choose from. Fortunately, the market is now flush with some great cylinder heads for our Mopar engines. Edelbrock, Indy Cylinder Head, and even Brodix offer bolt-on cylinder head kits for Mopar big- and small-blocks, and any of these choices are far better than factory cylinder heads. In addition to bigger ports and valves for increased flow and power potential, installing aftermarket aluminum cylinder heads will reduce your engine's weight by nearly 50 pounds. Even for a novice mechanic, a head swap isn't too tough, and the results can be extraordinary.
6. Nitrous Oxide, Need We Say More?
While we've all heard horror stories about how nitrous oxide can quickly grenade an engine, it's actually a very safe power-adder if installed and used properly. Even stock engines can safely employ nitrous kits of up to 125 hp without risking engine damage. Modern nitrous oxide kits meter fuel and nitrous accurately, are easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and provide instant power at the push of a button (or at wide-open throttle). While larger nitrous systems may require fuel system upgrades, nitrous still gives you the most power-per-dollar that we've found.
Many cars are either over- or under-carbureted, so another great bolt-on modification is t
Forcing more air and fuel into your engine equates to more power, so a turbo or supercharger may be just what you need. While not as cheap to install as nitrous oxide, companies like Procharger have designed great centrifugal supercharger kits for most Mopars that not only add incredible power, but fit under the hood as well. The nice thing about forced induction is that once it's installed, the power is always there when you want it without having to refill a nitrous bottle.
8. Torque Multiplication
Modified engines often make their power and torque at a higher rpm than a stock engine, so to take advantage of this, a looser torque converter and lower-ratio rear-end gears are good choices. Both a looser converter and lower rear gears multiply the engine's torque, allowing the engine to accelerate more quickly, equating to better performance. Even with a stock engine, stoplight-to-stoplight performance can be dramatically improved by performing these modifications.
Even a mild engine can usually benefit from a bigger carburetor, especially if you've alre
Accelerating 3,000-plus pounds of steel is one thing; stopping it is another. Let's face it-the factory brakes on most Mopars were marginal at best, so it's time to replace them with modern disc brakes. Fortunately, there are many kits available from companies like Wilwood, Stainless Steel Brakes, and Master Power Brakes. These brake kits are easy to install, and considerably improve braking performance and safety. When it comes to brake upgrades, we don't consider disc brakes an option, but rather a mandatory improvement. Not only will your car perform better after installing disc brakes, you'll be less nervous and enjoy driving it more when your brakes perform as well as the new cars on the road.
10. Stop Swaying
Though often overlooked, the suspension of our Mopars contributes greatly to handling, braking, and acceleration performance. There are many suppliers of Mopar suspension parts, including Just Suspension and Performance Suspension Technology, and most have front and rear sway bar kits in addition to the standard rebuild parts. Sway bar kits are easy to install, and only cost a couple hundred bucks. For the money, a sway bar kit will noticeably improve your Mopar's handling, and can improve stopping performance as well.
A dual-plane aluminum intake offers great low-end torque, and will shave weight from the f
For high-rpm, high-horsepower applications, a single-plane intake manifold is the best cho
The power your engine makes has a lot to do with the camshaft. Fortunately, cam swaps are
Factory cams, or cams designed decades ago, are behind the power curve in terms of enginee
Don't forget to match the rest of your valvetrain components to the cam you'll use. Althou
A roller cam and lifters will definitely make more power, but roller cams are expensive an
If your Mopar is modern, you may be able to pick up power by simply plugging in a computer
For newer cars, adding performance is easy. Simply plug in a programmer, and fuel curves,
Most computer tuners offer several levels of performance, and many have other features lik
If you're a little more mechanically inclined, a head swap can provide big horsepower gain
Aftermarket cylinder heads are a great way to add power to your Mopar. For the price of fu
For the money, we still haven't found a better power-adder than nitrous oxide. Easy to ins
Companies like Zex offer nitrous oxide kits for virtually every application. Nitrous kits
Despite the rumors you may have heard, nitrous oxide will not blow your engine up. We've b
While a top-fuel-style blower and injection system may be a little much, there are some re
Procharger has kits for most Mopars, old and new, and installation is fairly straight-forw
After installing a centrifugal supercharger kit on a new 5.7 Hemi Charger R/T, the dyno ve
Hard launches depend on more than just engine torque. Installing a looser torque converter
While changing the torque converter is pretty straight-forward, setting up a rear end may
If you're going to build a fast car, you'd better be able to stop it. With so many afterma
Disc brakes are not just a performance upgrade; they greatly improve safety as well. Mopar
Some of the best deals we've found when upgrading our Mopars are front and rear sway bar k
Sway bars are easy to install, and improve the handling and safety of your Mopar. This is
Available in kit form from several manufacturers, front and rear sway bars are a great imp