If you happen to be one of the quickest and hardest hitting cornerbacks in the NFL, you can bet when the time comes to build a special ride that it is going to show some serious muscle. DeAngelo Hall of the Washington Redskins had gotten to know the folks over at YearOne during his time with the Atlanta Falcons, and when the idea for this radical ’69 Dodge Charger began to take shape, he turned to YearOne’s Ghostworks division to make it happen. The game plan was specific; it had to turn the stats with numbers that impress, and more importantly it had to be usable. Unlike some of the all-show Pro Touring machines, this Charger is no Pro Poser. Here we are talking much more than packing plenty of power in the engine room, with handling and braking ranking just as high on the scorecard. Yes, in terms of performance it was going to do everything a car should do in a bigger and better way than any stock ’60s Charger, but most of all it was going to be far more refined than a typical Pro Touring machine or any stock muscle car from back in the day.
As one of the world’s premier suppliers of muscle car restoration parts, with over 30 years in the business, YearOne naturally has unique capabilities when it comes to building these machines. Back when the Pro Touring trend began gaining momentum over a decade ago, the company started modifying some of its own cars. As these in-house projects began to get attention at events across the nation, the strong interest eventually evolved into Ghostworks, a dedicated division specializing in bringing these unique automotive creations to life. Project coordinator Phil Brewer and the team at Ghostworks handle building internal projects for YearOne, as well as a select few custom outside projects, such as the Charger featured here.
Now you don’t just jump into a build like this without a well-planned strategy, and before the first wrench was turned there were serious development sessions between DeAngelo and the Ghostworks team to iron out a game plan. Every major feature of this build was well thought out before work began. Arguably, nothing produced out of the Motor City has the recognition and pure muscle car identification as a second-generation Charger, and to preserve that timeless vibe, it was decided to reject radical and outrageous exterior body mods. There’s no denying that the shape sculpted by the Dodge design crew has withstood the test of time, still evoking a pure message of performance after over four decades. As Phil relates: “One of the things when we were discussing the project was that we didn’t want it to be too trendy. We didn’t want something that would be out of style in a few years.”
There would be body mods, cleaning and tucking in the front and rear bumpers, extending the rocker panels, and incorporating refined design themes in the front and rear valance panels, however, there would be no radical alteration of the classic original form. Stance, rolling stock, color, and detail would be enough to emphasize contemporary performance. Likewise, the interior would get upgrades in both form and function, from a high-end sound system, to the expected added insulation and upgraded seats, as well as an infinite number of understated details that go practically unnoticed but are just so right. As with the exterior, the interior makeover would remain true to the original theme of yesterday, with subtle upgrades of materials and components without destroying the classic appeal of a vintage Charger.
For huge levels of reliable...
For huge levels of reliable power, nothing compares to a late-model engine built with cubes and the aid of forced induction. This Gen III Hemi was bored and stroked to 426 cubes, while a Techco supercharger provides pressurized power to the tune of 640 hp at the wheels. Ghostworks Phil Brewer tells us: “The supercharged combination allows us to produce a very high power output while keeping the engine very well mannered for real street use.” The engine build was handled by Arrington Engines of Martinsville, Virginia.
Aggressive rubber on just...
Aggressive rubber on just the right wheels was a big part of achieving the look of a modern supercar with that of classic ’60s muscle. The Michelins in 275 (front) and 345 (rear) section widths achieve that goal, however, getting them to sit perfectly under the Charger’s skin took some serious doing. Visible behind the Forgeline wheels are 13-inch six-piston Baer brakes, used at all four corners.
The control room retains the...
The control room retains the unmistakable look of a second-generation Charger, however, it has been upgraded with modern components and materials that are a far cry from the original slippery vinyl. The black and charcoal cabin features leather Cerullo seats, and such conveniences as a Vintage Air system, custom Alpine/Boston Acoustics sound system, and power windows. The later Mopar Tuff Wheel, and E-Body shifter mechanism integrate nicely. Thanks to a full complement of restoration components from YearOne, every detail inside appears factory fresh.
From the rear, the stance and curtain of wide rubber leave no doubt of this machine’s intentions. The look is enhanced by custom smoothing and tucking of the bumpers, and the modified valance panel, which allows the traditional dual square tips to tuck into the metal, rather than simply hanging under it as original. Taillamps are ’69 Charger modified with LED lighting from Classic LEDs.
The build plan would include a fully modified chassis and suspension. Up front, the factory torsion bar suspension and industrial-sized steering would get the knife for a Reilly Motorsports AlterKation subframe. The system mounts in place of the original K-member and features a coil sprung suspension with tubular control arms, big 13-inch Baer brakes, and power rack-and-pinion steering. At the rear, in the interest of coping with the supercharged Hemi’s massive torque, a solid rear would be retained in the form of a bulletproof Moser Dana 60, carrying matching Baer 13-inch discs. Instead of the primitive leaf-spring suspension, however, the rear would be hung on a custom-built four-link coilover arrangement, located laterally by a fabricated Panhard rod. The rear suspension system would clear the way for steamroller 345/30ZR19 Michelins, mounted on Forgeline SO3P 19x12 hoops, while up front 275/35ZR18s spin on 18x9 Forgelines.
With a clear vision of what this custom Charger was destined to be, and what it was expected to do, Ghostworks got to work, completing the Charger over the course of 16 months. The starting point was a green 383 ’68 Charger. As Phil describes it, “It was a pretty decent survivor; it had never really been messed with, but it had a little rot here or there. It was basically an unmolested Charger SE.” Even though the car was solid to start with, considerable metalwork was involved in achieving the final form.
Of course there were the custom touches, such as the body mods planned from the start, including the valance, rockers, and bumpers, as well as the sheetmetal surgery needed to achieve the desired stance. The inner and outer wheelhouses were replaced, opening the available space for the rubber to come by mini-tubbing the wheelhousings.
Much of the body and chassis work was really assimilation in terms of getting the wheel and tire fitment and stance just where Ghostwork envisioned it. This meant integrating the body and suspension to achieve the final result. The AlterKation front suspension setup was modified to pull it further up the rails, increasing travel at the desired ride height. At the back, the rear suspension was custom fabricated, using a four-link arrangement with sectioned framerails to tuck the moving parts up into the unibody. Phil expanded: “Getting that drivetrain and suspension up into the car was one of the key custom aspects of this build. We raised the front suspension up into the car, and raised the transmission tunnel and driveline into the car, then custom-built the rear suspension so the body just kind of sat over everything.”
The engine work was contracted to the Mopar experts at Arrington Engines in Martinsville, Virginia, starting with a 6.1 Gen III Hemi and boring and stroking to the magic displacement of 426 cubes. Internally, the engine measures 4.080 inches in both bore and stroke, with the holes now filled with Mahle pistons linked to a K-1 forged crank by K-1 H-beam rods. Power comes on via a custom COMP cam working the valves in a set of CNC-ported OEM 6.1 heads. A Techco supercharger adds pressure to the mix, making the combination good enough to deliver 640 hp at the rear wheels. The beauty of the supercharged Hemi is it makes this kind of power while being docile on the street.
Completing the drivetrain, a five-speed 545RFE automatic from Bouchillon Performance was bolted to the stout Hemi, with the addition of a custom torque converter from Edge Racing Converters, and a Canton Racing trans cooler. An aluminum driveshaft was built to order from Precision Shaft Technologies, mating the trans to the Moser 60 rear. Of course, the high-tech blown and injected Hemi and electronically managed transmission require a full electronic management system to function. The control is supported by OEM electronics with a custom calibration using a Diablo Sport tuner by Arrington Engines.
Making all those correct visual...
Making all those correct visual cues come to life while improving function on the road is a fully fabricated custom four-link rear suspension built by Ghostworks. Featuring Eibach 400-lb/in springs and coilover shocks, the Ghostworks team strived to tuck the suspension up into the car to marry the wheel placement with the required suspension travel. Widened stock wheeltubs and the elimination of the stock leaf springs substantially opens the tire clearance.
The entire OEM suspension...
The entire OEM suspension and steering was discarded in favor of a Reilly Motorsports AlterKation coilover suspension. The front chassis rails were modified to plant the system deeper into the car for a lower, more road-hugging look, and then the suspension was modified for a ’05 Mustang power steering rack. Front coilovers are Konis, with Ebach 750-lb/in springs.
With all of the repair work and custom engineering completed, the body tub was treated to a stunning finish in ’06 Dodge Charger “Go-Mango” tangerine metallic, using Glasurit materials, with a custom matte black tail stripe and hood graphic completing the exterior look. The factory vacuum-operated hidden headlamp system was converted to electronic drive for reliability, while other modern upgrades include LED driving lamps and taillights by Classic LEDs. Overall, the look remains true to the classic Mopar’s style, as Phil tells it, “I think it is a timeless look. It is obviously custom and everything, but 10 years from now it will look as good as it does today. There is no reason to change things just to be changing things. Mopar did a fine job on these cars back then so there’s no need to visually change it that much.”
As lifelong fans of classic Mopar Muscle, we have to commend this collaboration of ideas from DeAngelo Hall and Ghostworks. The planning and execution of the build proved right on target, with the stance and uncharacteristically fat rubber giving the Charger the unmistakable vibe of exotic performance. Inside and out, the custom details harmonize perfectly with that performance theme, while paying tribute to the best of what American muscle had to offer.
DeAngelo Hall, Atlanta, GA
Type: Chrysler Gen III Hemi
Bore x Stroke: 4.080 x 4.080
Rotating Assembly: Mahle pistons, K-1 forged crank, K-1 forged H-beam rods
Cylinder heads: CNC ported 6.1 Gen III Hemi
Camshaft: custom COMP hydraulic roller by Arrington Engines
Valvetrain: Mopar Performance rockers, COMP springs and pushrods
Induction: Integrated Techco Supercharger/manifold/EFI
Fuel system: custom fuel tank with in-tank OEM-style fuel pump
Ignition: factory coil-on-plug
Cooling: aftermarket aluminum radiator
Engine output: 640 hp, 570 lb-ft of torque at rear wheels
Engine built by: Arrington Engines
Transmission: Chrysler 545RFE five-speed automatic overdrive
Driveshaft: aluminum by Precision Shaft Technologies
Frame: factory ’69 Charger unibody,
Front suspension: AlterKation coilover with tubular control arms
Rear suspension: Ghostworks fabricated four-link with coilover
Steering: ’05 Mustang rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Baer 13-inch six-piston discs, front and rear
Wheels: Forgeline S03P, 18x9 (front), 19x12 (rear)
Tires: Michelin, 275/35ZR18 (front), 345/30ZR19 (rear)