By his own account, David Wolfe never planned to own a Dodge. Chevelles, Camaros, and the other usual suspects were more his thing. But when he found out there was this unfinished '73 Challenger project that had a Hemi attached, he switched teams. He says: "Growing up I was always a Bow Tie guy, but my best buddy from age 12 on was a Mopar guy. We always talked about 426 Hemis, and he was a big, big Mopar guy, but I was just always a GM guy. I don't know if it's genetics from your parents, or you just grow up with whatever loyalties that they had." That all changed one afternoon at Performance Restorations in Mundelein, Illinois, a little over two years ago.
Brent Jarvis of Performance Restorations had done work for David in the past, including a supernice '71 Camaro (PHR December '07, see "Show N Go") and the two had become friends. Whenever David would stop by for a visit, there was always this old Challenger in a total state of disarray in the corner of the shop. When David asked about putting a high-powered big-block in his Camaro, Jarvis said no; for that kind of power he needed something like that old Challenger.
Time passed and as it happens sometimes, one man's misfortune became another man's gain, as the Challenger's previous owner ran out of steam for the project and it came up for sale. "When I found out that this car was going to be on the market, truly the tip-in was that it was going to be a Hemi. It doesn't matter whether you're a GM guy, a Ford guy or anything else, just 'Hemi,' that's all you gotta say. Especially that big of a cubic-inch Hemi with that kind of horsepower." How big? How's about 605 fire-breathing, neck-snapping, wheel-burning cubic inches? How much horsepower? How's about 886 horses running at full steam on pump gas with no baby bottles or hair dryers needed!
It gets even better when David flips a little switch and two solenoid-activated doors open up, bypassing the exhaust and freaking out the old ladies at the stoplight next to him. That's probably because this isn't just a show job, it's a real driver. Regarding when David originally acquired the project, he told us: "It was designed to be a go straight really fast car, and I wanted it to be a little more utilitarian. Not a grocery getter by any means, but I wanted to be able to drive it on the street. So I put bigger brakes on it and different wheels and tires." Pentastar enthusiasts will also be happy to note the pistol grip shifter still in place. It is connected to a Passon Performance four-speed that has been beefed up to transmit power via a McLeod dual-disc clutch setup. As part of the original project, the drivetrain was definitely set up for the strip. "It had a spool and 4.56 gears, and you'd be going about 4,000 rpm to hit 55 mph. So I did change the rearend to a posi and a 3.55 gear."
The impetus for this whole project-the Hemi-was built by some guys up in Indiana who might know a thing or two about them. You might have heard of Indy Cylinder Heads. Yeah, they build complete engines in addition to their line of big- and small-block Mopar and AMC heads. The elephant powering this Challenger is a spare-no-expense, take-no-prisoners pachyderm using their own aluminum block, a Callies 4340 steel crank, and Wiseco forged pistons down below. Topside is a pair of their Legend series heads with full CNC port and polish, and K-Motion springs. Naturally, a COMP Cams solid roller thumps the lifters up and down and gives just the right signal to the big King Demon 1,190-cfm carb sitting atop the high-rise intake. In addition to the nearly 900 horses, this bad boy just about rips the dyno in half with over 800 lb-ft of torque. Let me reiterate, this is on pump gas!