When we took the wraps off of rocker Kenny Wayne Shepherd's '70 Duster in our March issue, he had just started work on a new project-a '72 Dodge Charger. In the April issue, we gave you a sneak peak of that car with a few morsels of info to tease you. Kenny's Charger is coming along nicely, and we recently had a chance to sit down with him for a quick interview.
The theme of unloved and forgotten cars is one we touch upon a lot at PHR, and Kenny's '72 Charger is along those lines. There once was a time when the roads were full of mid-'70s B-bodies like this one. We miss those days, and so does Kenny. "I'm trying to build a car that is reliable-one that performs, handles, and drives as well as a brand-new car. At the same time, it has classic styling. Also, I'm trying to generate some attention for the third-generation Charger, which I feel is one of those overlooked cars."
Work is progressing rapidly on Shepherd's Charger as the Hot Rod TV cameras roll on. All of the work is being done at Picture Car Warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, under the watchful eye of proprietor Ted Moser. Shepherd: "One of the things we're doing is modifying the floorboards to accommodate a six-speed Viper transmission. That's a lot of work. We smoothed out the keyholes on the car, and the side marker lights. We're also filling in the front bumper to eliminate the license plate recess. We're smoothing the bumpers, welding the bolts to the bumper, and grinding them down, then tucking them tight to the body."
All that work for a Viper transmission will be justified, as the '72 Charger SE will be packing one of Mopar Performance's new fuel-injected 392-inch all-aluminum Hemis. The Charger will be a rolling testbed for some very high-tech, yet streetable gear. The 392 Hemi fits that bill perfectly, with 525 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel. "All the wiring as well as the harness comes with the 392," says Shepherd. "The computer is preprogrammed from Mopar. It's really cool because it's a plug-and-play application."
Following through with the modern high-tech theme is a modern coilover front, and Viper independent rear suspension. "Matt Delaney, a good friend of mine, has come on board by gathering the right components, most especially for the suspension," says Shepherd. "These suspension pieces are from Reilly MotorSports. It's their AlterKtion frontend." For about $3,500, the AlterKtion front K-member kit converts '62-72 Mopar B-bodies from torsion bars, to a modern coilover double-wishbone design.
At the rear, a Viper IRS with factory 3.07:1 gearing will complete the mechanical update of the classic B-body. "This is a Viper rear differential. It's an aluminum housing, so it's light, but it's heavy-duty too. It can definitely take the abuse that the 392 Hemi can put out," says Shepherd. (Having featured many of Matt Delaney's prior Mopars in PHR, we don't even have to ask where Kenny got the Viper IRS idea from!)
From the beginning of this project, Shepherd has worked closely with Shannon Hudson of Redline Gauge Works. The two have shared a common vision for the Charger since day one, when they were initially running down leads for a suitable starter car. Hudson's area of expertise is custom gauges, which have showed up on more award-winning musclecars than we can count. Obviously, the finished Charger interior will feature Hudson's handiwork, along with requisite upgrades from Just Dashes (dash restoration), Year One (various items), and Kicker Audio (Shepherd: "This thing is going to have an awesome sound system!").
As work progresses, more equipment choices are being made. At this point, Shepherd has elected to go with TTI headers and exhaust tips, a custom MagnaFlow exhaust, modified 2008 Sebring convertible seats, BFGoodrich tires, and most likely custom Foose wheels.
We look forward to seeing how this forgotten classic turns out. We give Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his posse of Mopar freaks a lot of credit for taking on a '72 Charger SE. Prediction: The market for third-gen Chargers is going to heat up real quick come April-so get yours now. We know we'll be watching the Speed Channel on April 12, when this bad boy hits the small screen.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd's '72 Charger SE project gets underway at Picture Car Warehouse, in L
Stripping off old paint from a huge Mopar B-body is back-breaking work. Kenny Wayne and Sh
The buildup of Kenny's Charger is being documented by the crew of Hot Rod TV. The episode
Shannon and Kenny attack the interior. There isn't a lot of aftermarket stuff made for the
Kenny "the cut-up" rejects the IP bezel after Shannon deems it unsalvageable. Shannon's sp
It's Christmas time at Picture Car Warehouse, as Ted Moser (left) and Kenny examine new Vi
Ahh, the real jewel of the project: the new fuel-injected 392-inch Hemi crate motor from M
The basis for the Charger's rear suspension will be the Viper's IRS. Kenny's pointing out
You may remember this Ben Hermance '73 Charger rendering from the November 2007 issue of P