Who knows who will take the Oval Office come 2009, but it won't take much for the next commander-in-chief to surpass his (or her) predecessor's ghastly 30 percent approval rating. The rules aren't much different in the walk of designing street machine suspension components, either. Although their effectiveness may suggest that the covenant between Newton and the gods of physics has been amended, much of why aftermarket bits seem so great is due to the unbelievable lameness of the antiquated stock hardware. That's not to say the aftermarket doesn't build fine suspension products. However, merely increasing the thickness of a sway bar is a far cry from actually raising the bar.
At least that's the ideology that motivates XV Motorsports, whose goal is building B- and E-body Mopars with the ride, handling, and civility of a modern supercar. While that's a great mission statement-or a pitifully unoriginal marketing ploy-lines like that are just so clich these days. Fortunately, the scope of engineering involved here goes far beyond standard aftermarket convention. XV teamed up with Multimatic Motorsports, builder of race-winning Daytona Prototypes, to completely re-engineer the underpinnings of the most revered Mopars of all time. Off-the-shelf items just aren't part of the equation. Virtually every suspension component, from K-members to control arms, are all custom built from the ground up. This approach allowed correcting flawed suspension geometries and significantly reducing mass through extensive use of aluminum.
The '70 Challenger presented here is the first in a line of turnkey '68-70 B-bodies and '70-74 E-bodies XV Motorsports will produce. The decision to specialize in rare Mopars is a very deliberate one. "I'm not a brand loyalist, but Mopars were some of the fastest and most aggressively styled cars of the musclecar era," explains owner John Buscema. "Although they're among the most valuable collector cars around, there really aren't any serious performance parts available for them." In addition to the aforementioned suspension upgrades, customers can pick between 5.7L or 6.1L fuel-injected Hemi motors, five- or six-speed gearboxes, and four- or six-piston big brake kits. Depending on the body style and how they're outfitted, prices will range between $130,000 and $250,000. That's not cheap in anyone's book, but these cars will surely precipitate a gridlock of wire transfers from those blessed with fat bankrolls. Fortunately, even not-so-wealthy hot rodders can get in on the action, as XV Motorsports will individually sell just about every component that goes into their supercars.
The PlayersTo achieve his ambitious goal of building the best handling and most functional Mopars in existence, John Buscema recruited the best players in the business. "We wanted to do this the right way with no expenses spared, and not like some average Joe out in his garage with his chopsaw," says John. Having sold a very successful financial management firm, sparing expenses wasn't an issue for John.
In order to sort out the critical chassis details, John hooked up with Multimatic Motorsports. The Canadian operation is perhaps best known for building the wildly successful Boy Racer Mustang for Ford that dominated the Grand-Am Cup series in its debut season. Multimatic competes at the highest levels of endurance road racing as well, routinely campaigning entries at the 24-hour races in Le Mans and Daytona with cars it builds for Panoz and Ford Racing. Their in-house dream team includes chassis engineers, professional race car drivers, and OE-caliber test rigs and simulation software.
The engine program is headed by mod motor guru and avid road racer Sean Hyland. John got to know Sean during his days of open road racing his '97 Mustang Cobra, which averaged 205 mph at the Silver State Classic thanks to Sean's stout engine package. "Everyone involved with the development of these cars has some kind of racing background," explains John.
XV Motorsports took full advantage of Multimatic's four-post ride simulator to develop its
Chassis DevelopmentBy far the biggest engineering challenge was bringing an archaic, flaccid chassis up to modern supercar standards. The process began with baseline testing on a road course and on Multimatic's four-post rig. A tool typically reserved for the ranks of NASCAR, F1, and the OEMs, the rig features hydraulic rams positioned under each tire. They oscillate at different speeds to simulate cornering loads and bumps. A bevy of accelerometers and sensors measure suspension and body movement, which allows engineers to precisely dial in the spring and shock package. The test figures are converted into an index indicative of cornering ability and ride quality, then compared against a database of 250 modern vehicles to measure progress. The prototype Challenger chassis was then subjected to torsional rigidity evaluation on Multimatic's custom test fixture. Load cells and dial indicators measured chassis flex, and the test was repeated after adding stiffening components. Subframe connectors, a strut tower bar and bracing along the floorpan, inner fenderwells, and radiator support significantly improved torsional stiffness.
Before the actual suspension pieces could be designed, engineers first created a 3D computer model of the stock suspension's mounting locations and pickup points using a FaroArm coordinate measuring machine. Using that data, cutting-edge track simulation software optimized suspension geometry and chassis dynamics. Prototype pieces were then created for test fitting in the mule before the designs were finalized in CAD.
After another run on the four-post rig with the new suspension hardware in place, the Challenger hit the road course for some real-world testing.
The end result is two different suspension packages for both B- and E-bodies. The full-tilt Level II suspension seen here utilizes custom upper- and lower A-arms up front along with a custom spindle, tubular K-member, and a variable-rate steering rack. They're all made out of aluminum to help pare curb weight down to 3,100 pounds. At the corners are adjustable coilovers, and custom sway bars with billet mounts on each end. Out back is a three-link stick axle with a Panhard bar. Again, the trailing arms and the Panhard bar are aluminum, and an adjustable upper link allows tweaking the pinion angle.
The more rudimentary Level I suspension system, while not nearly as exotic, offers significant handling improvements as well. It features stock control arms with urethane bushings, stiffer springs, thicker torsion bars, revalved shocks, and larger front and rear sway bars. XV Motorsports also offers two brake packages developed by StopTech. The Level I kit includes 13-inch rotors all around with four-piston calipers up front and two-piston clamps out back. The Level II kit adds larger 14-inch front rotors and six- and four-piston calipers for the front and back, respectively. Finishing off the chassis are 18-inch Kinesis wheels wrapped in 275/35s up front and 295/35s out back.
PowertrainKicking out 440 hp, the 5.7L Hemi in the Challenger prototype is very tame compared to the future combos XV Motorsports will offer. It's equipped with forged slugs, billet I-beam rods, a COMP 224/228-at-0.050 cam, and a single-plane Mopar Performance intake manifold converted to EFI. The 6.1L Hemi can be ordered as well, and XV is already busy developing both a twin-turbo system and a supercharger kit. Depending on a customer's needs, engine combos can put out anywhere between 500 and 1,000 hp. To back up these stout powerplants, customers can choose between a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed or a T56.
InteriorThe all-custom motif percolates into the interior as well. Front occupants sit in Recaro seats stitched in custom leather. The driver faces custom gauges, and a billet three-spoke steering wheel. The dash and all interior panels are wrapped in leather, and real wool carpeting covers the floor boards and trunk. The seats, windows, and door locks are all power operated. Other features include a suede leather headliner, A/C, and an Alpine stereo system.
How to OrderXV Motorsports has a lot of 25 cars ready to undergo construction at any time. For customers who already own a vehicle, XV will make whatever body repairs necessary in addition to installing their supercar components. Additionally, just about every suspension, engine, and driveline part will be available for purchase separately, including complete engine swap kits. Pricing is yet to be determined, but should be available by the time you read this. Now go give those Chevys hell.