As gas molecules compress, expand, and propagate through a medium (like air), the resulting pressure wave is what we call sound. The process works favorably for big V-8s and big V-12s, as they deliver mellifluous tones that oscillate the eardrums at a pleasing frequency, regardless of the country from which they originate. However, something quite peculiar happens when splitting the cylinder count right down the middle at 10. The acoustical disaster that is a large-displacement V-10 is like a room full of novice tuba players who forgot to empty out their spit valves. Perhaps the Pentagon should put it on CD and blare it at enemy POWs. The global terrorist network would collapse in no time. Considering the significant role the exhaust note plays in the very essence of a musclecar, why would anyone plop a Viper V-10 into a g-Machine?
Not surprisingly, when Rich Taborek approached Kevin Campbell of Campbell Auto Restoration with the idea of fitting a V-10 into his '68 Super Bee, Kevin tried to dissuade his eager customer. "I asked him, 'Have you ever heard what a Viper motor sounds like?' and he said, 'Yeah, I happen to own a '96 Viper,'" says Kevin. Still not thrilled with the plan, Kevin suggested building a 440 wedge motor with EFI, but after completing the parts tally, the Viper motor was actually cheaper and had the potential to make more power. Of course, the most proper thing to do would have been dropping in a Hemi since the 426ci legend was optional in the '68 Super Bee, but Rich wanted something more original. "I thought about putting a Hemi in it, but everyone else was doing that so I wanted to do something different."
With the powerplant settled upon, the first order of business was actually tracking one down. This proved difficult since Chrysler no longer offers the Viper V-10 as a crate motor, and it's a much rarer junkyard find than say, an LS1. Fortunately, through undisclosed inside contacts at Chrysler, Rich and Kevin were able to get their hands on a fresh V-10. Now they just had to figure out how to make it fit. "I thought that since they put six-cylinder engines in these chassis from the factory the swap wasn't going to be too hard at all, but boy were we wrong," says Kevin. "The Viper engine is extremely long, and like all late-models, the accessories take up even more space." On top of that, the only wiring harness Kevin could get a hold of was for a Gen II ('96+) Viper motor, not for the earlier Gen I ('92-95) engine they were going to run.
No stranger to challenging engine swaps, the team at Campbell Auto Restoration got crackin'. To accommodate the 488ci behemoth, a new firewall was built and relocated rearward six inches. Likewise, a custom radiator core support bought another three inches of space. A Reilly Motorsports AlterKtion K-member freed up additional room, but required sectioning the front of the oil pan. With the motor finally in place, the car was then shipped off to Lemons Headers for a custom set of tri-Ys. The only thing left to do now was wiring the sucker up. The process wasn't terribly difficult, but required painstaking tweaking of the newer Gen II harness to work with the various sensors on the older Gen I motor. To finish it off, the block and heads were painted gloss black to better match the undercarriage, and the bright red intake manifold and valve covers were sprayed in a much more subtle dark green. The end product gets the job done in more ways than one. "Paired with the T56 trans, the engine is a real good match for the car and has a very broad powerband," says Rich. It catches the casual passerby off-guard as well. "People will look at it from different angles and think it's a nice car, but when they look under the hood they're just blown away."
While the swap is certainly fanciful, the extensive labor involved to pull it off indicates that it was by no means a budget-oriented proposition. So why bother spending E-body heaps of cash on what is essentially a gussied-up Coronet? It's hard to put a number on sentimental value, and Rich's high school car was-you guessed it-a four-speed '68 Super Bee. A silly smirk lights up his mug as he recollects memories of his first Super Bee, in particular a five-week road trip across the country and through Canada. Along the way, the 4.11 gears out back over-stressed the tired 383, necessitating an all-night repair at a campground in Michigan. Rich made it back home to Jersey, but years of harsh winters eventually took their toll and the Super Bee had to be retired. A burning desire to relive those fond memories led Rich to look for another '68 Super Bee to restore, and he found one after four years of searching.
Not one to shroud those memories in a cloak of delusion, Rich knew that the good old days weren't really all that good. "Old cars were great for their time, but they were built to go in a straight line and you didn't want to try to turn or stop in them," says Rich. "Times change, and I don't need 8-track players or choke valves anymore." Sounds like a man in need of a g-Machine, and Rich's Super Bee got the latest and greatest in chassis hardware. CAR stiffened up the foundation with a set of custom subframe connectors and crossmembers and rigged up a custom NASCAR-style front sway bar. The RMS AlterKtion K-member incorporates tubular upper and lower control arms, a T-bird steering rack, and QA1 coilovers with Eibach springs. Putting the V-10 power to the ground is a Moser Dana 60 rear end that's movements are controlled by custom Eaton Detroit springs and QA1 shocks. It's fed by a Dynotech aluminum driveshaft and stuffed with 3.73:1 gears and a Detroit Truetrac limited-slip differential. Stopping duties are handled by Baer discs, with 13-inch slotted and drilled rotors up front and 12-inchers in the rear. Budnik Arrow wheels covered with 265/40-17, front and 295/35-18, rear Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires transmit the g's.
Inside, the cabin is all business and little flair, and everything's covered in black for a low-profile appearance. Recaro buckets hold occupants snugly in place, and a Momo Prototipo three-spoke steering wheel encourages copious lateral loads. For those long freeway rides Rich has in mind, there's an Alpine stereo and Vintage Air A/C. Cool details are scattered throughout the interior as well, like a custom mini console for the shifter. The stock gauge cluster was reworked by Redline Gauge Works (Santa Clarita, Calif.), and includes updated modern internals and a 200-mph speedometer in the stock font. Moreover, the speakers are neatly tucked away into the doors, kick panel, and package tray.
The details don't stop there, though, and permeate throughout the entire car. The V-10's dual throttle-bodies draw air from inside the fenders, and there's an oil cooler stashed behind the front bumper. Custom-built tanks for the windshield washer fluid and coolant overflow are neatly tucked away on the fender apron. Other than the wheels and the stance, the only exterior aberration is the front spoiler. "The whole intent of this build was to build a car that looks almost stock, but not," says Rich.
Oh yeah, there's that whole sound thing, too. No one will mistake the mammoth V-10 for a Hemi, but the tone isn't nearly as bad as that of a stock Viper. Kevin played around with several exhaust configurations, and settled on a 3-inch H-pipe collector feeding Magnaflow mufflers and a set of DynoMax race bullets used as resonators. "You can still tell that it's a 10-cylinder, but with the exhaust setup like it is, it either really sounds good or it's starting to grow on me," says Kevin. Rich agrees. "CAR did a great job with the exhaust, which is hard to do with a Viper V-10 since they sound like UPS trucks," he says. "To me, this set-up sounds like a strong V-8." With the V-10's biggest detriment now addressed, and 488 ci of brutal torque on hand, there really isn't much to complain about now is there?