There’s no arguing with cold hard facts. It’s a lesson learned by far too many car enthusiasts when they first take their car (or engine) to a skilled dynamometer operator. No matter how much horsepower that bolt-on cold air kit claims to help your V6 pick up, the dyno will reveal the truth. We learned this the hard way during the second installment of our “Wicked Wedge of The South.” Although we figured the box-stock Edelbrock Air Gap dual plane and RPM Performers were going to scrub quite a bit from our top end horsepower numbers, we weren’t prepared to be in the low 600s (624 horsepower, 700 ft. lbs. of torque). This of course, provided us a swift kick in the pants to get rolling on “Phase II” of our “Wicked Wedge” and will have the first part of that build coming soon.
Our previous dyno sessions with Mike Petralia and Hardcore Horsepower were strictly in his sealed engine dyno cell, not on the big rollers of his chassis dyno. For that, we wanted to invite a few fellow Mopar lovers to join the fun and even put up a small prize for the best combined peak horsepower and torque numbers. Besides rallying the Directly Connected readership in the regional area surrounding Nashville, Tennessee, we also personally invited the Music City Mopar Club to come out on an early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, some scheduling conflicts made the announcement rather short-notice, so willing participants were only given a short 5 days to clear their weekends. Of course, we made sure to have our bronze ’69 Dodge Charger R/T project “Brazen” present but wouldn’t be in contention.
Since first lowering the front of Brazen over its engine and K-member over a year ago, we’ve racked up over 1,400 miles on the odometer. Be it local cruising, back-and-forth from the nearby speed shop, taking in a few car shows and even driving up to Bowling Green, KY, to visit our friends at Holley, our Charger has been a great runner. We did notice a slight miss in our ignition, stuttering ever-so-slightly while humping along the freeway, and with the dramatic change in air temperature lately, our jetting has been waaay off. That, and getting really sick and tired of our stupidly low gears (4.56 on a Detroit Locker) has made our to-do list grow a little faster than preferred. But again, that’s all part of getting a project car on the road.
Driving the 50 minutes down from the Directly Connected offices to Petralia’s Hardcore Horsepower early on a chilly December Saturday morning was uneventful except for a friendly Yukon who had come in tight to get a closer look at our Mopar blowing a tire a car length ahead of us. Pulling in ahead of schedule, we helped move some customer’s cars around to clear room in the shop. Hardcore Horsepower first rolled its doors open in 2007 helping build cars and engines for magazines and customers alike. In fact, Petralia’s experience with magazine builds spans two decades, having written or worked specifically for every major hot rod and muscle title currently and out-of-print. In 2012, Petralia added a state-of-the-art 2,000-plus-horsepower engine dynamometer, with the Dynocom Racing chassis dyno arriving earlier this year.
A total of eight cars filled the roster of participants, two being factory supercharged Hellcat Challengers. A SRT-10 Viper-powered Ram, a ’12 Dodge Charger Super Bee with the 480-horsepower 392 Gen III Hemi, another Gen III Hemi Challenger, and three post-1970 A-Bodies, a Duster, Demon and Dart joined us for some fun. Proving that not all cars are created equal, we saw some surprising differences in power from the two competing Hellcats, the white, slightly customized ‘Cat making 518 rwhp and 470 rwtq versus our charcoal gray blown Challenger making 546 rwhp and 490 rwtq. Although we weren’t part of the points race, our Charger came in at an unofficial third place with 437 rwhp and 522 rwtq (handily making the most twist of the day’s participants).
Next in the power podium was the stout Viper Ram making 416 rwhp and 406 rwtq. The 338 rwhp and 318 rwtq of the ’09 Challenger SRT8 couldn’t best the bright yellow Super Bee’s incredibly concise 398 rwhp and 400 rwtq. The late model Hemis (and V10) were so consistent that several made only one or two passes. Our three small block-powered A-bodies came in order of the orange ’73 Plymouth Duster producing 214 rwhp and 265 rwtq, our red ’71 Dodge Demon with 192 rwhp and 167 rwtq, and lastly our primer-black ’70 Dart making 165 rwhp and 228 rwtq. For many, the dyno results were revelatory, if not for some, a little disappointing. But, as Petralia noted, “Now you’ve got a base line to build from.” Many in attendance pulled Petralia aside for insight, offering suggestions for intake swaps and exhaust modifications.
We, on the other hand, have quite a bit of top end work to do, in addition to chasing down our ignition hiccup. We’re excited to also announce that this was only the first of many, many more all-Mopar dyno days at Hardcore Horsepower presented by Directly Connected Magazine, and we will announce future dyno days in the months to come! For those who came, thank you for participating, and for you reading this, we want to welcome you out for our next one (likely in early Spring unless the weather permits otherwise).