Your summer weekend can go from awesome to awful in the time it takes for the light to change from green to red. We know, because we've been there. Sitting at the stoplight with a badass muscle machine is a two-edged sword—sometimes it can result in the kind of attention that has heads on a swivel, faces grinning, and thumbs in the up position. Other times it's an inescapable spotlight of failure and despair. There are few things in hot rodding life that are worse than publicly puking the contents of your cooling system right there on the road. Don't be the guy who others point to and say, "Boy, am I glad I have a new Toyota Prius!"
Original equipment cooling systems are marvels of both engineering and accounting acumen. Factory designs usher away heat efficiently over the length of the warranty service life while minimizing mass and cost. They work fine, until you color outside the lines—and coloring outside the lines is exactly what hot rodders like to do. Take our '68 Plymouth Valiant. When it was built 46 years ago, its cute little radiator was perfectly matched to the job of cooling a 140hp Slant Six. In 2014, the leaning tower of power is long gone to the Dulcich Retirement Home for Slant Sixes. In its place is a fire-breathing Indy Cylinder Head 500ci Wedge making 657 hp—more than four times the output of the Valiant's original engine.
That little A-Body was never meant to have that kind of fury under its hood, and that's exactly why we love it! That's great, except that we are now on the hook for that fat bullet's well being, and you will be too if you go down the same path with your street machine. We aren't cooling system engineers, but fortunately the boys at Be Cool are. Like some other companies, they make some very good high-performance aluminum radiators—in our case a dual 1-inch cross-flow core with TIG-welded tanks, and an integral seven-plate transmission cooler. But there are two big differences that set Be Cool apart from the others: They build complete systems—or modules—that include everything. The second thing? Be Cool modules are direct fit, meaning they were made to fit your specific vehicle with a minimum of hassle. Be Cool has over 500 direct-fit applications for all domestic makes including Ford, GM, and Chrysler, and Classic cooling modules are offered in 300, 400, 700, and even 1,000hp versions.
To slake the thirst of our Valiant's Indy low-deck wedge, we selected Be Cool's top-dog 1,000hp Classic cooling module. When Be Cool says their modules come with everything, they mean it. Our system included a dual 1-inch core natural finish radiator, two 13-inch high-torque Euro-Black fans, a sending unit with 40-amp relays, fan mounting brackets, natural finish coolant recovery tank, natural finish billet radiator cap, and an extensive hardware kit. It's all made in the United States, and our direct-fit 1,000hp Classic module (PN 62198) cost just $839.99 (Summit).
Typically, a direct-fit Classic module from Be Cool is a bolt-on affair, but with a small Mopar A-Body, the lack of space plays havoc with the system's capacity. To remedy this, Be Cool created a really ingenious radiator package that adds a huge amount of additional pass-through area to the A-Body's front cross-section, with the sacrifice of only four small cuts. These cuts are to the subframe pinch welds (two of them), and to the radiator core support opening (again, two of them). Be Cool tells us our 1,000hp A-Body module was originally designed for a customer in the Chicagoland area who was restoring one of Ronnie Sox's Hemi-powered Barracudas. Thanks to Be Cool, it now prowls the street with zero cooling problems. We figured if it was good enough for Ronnie Sox's 'Cuda, it was good enough for us.
Watch as Ron Aschtgen of Outlaw Motorsports in Riverside, California, takes you through the specifics of putting our Be Cool module into Project Valiant. Outlaw Motorsports is one of those rare speed shops that can handle any hot rod project, large or small. Aschtgen and his crew can handle everything, including engine building, chassis building, sheetmetal fabrication, bodywork, electrical wiring, interiors, rollcages, and yes, cooling systems! If you're in the SoCal area, you're missing out if you don't give Aschtgen a call on your next muscle car buildup or repair.
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Want to see more of our Valiant's Be Cool module installation up-close and personal? Check out the video on our YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/PopularHotRodding
Be Cool's 1,000hp Classic direct-fit module for '64-76 Mopar A-Bodies (PN 62198, $839.99 Summit) was installed into our '68 Plymouth Valiant by Ron Aschtgen of Outlaw Motorsports. The total install time was about four hours, and included minor cutting of the subframe pinch welds and core support.
Space, or a lack thereof, is the big hurdle with cooling a big-horsepower, big-inch engine like our 657hp Indy wedge. Check out the small window in the A-Body core support, and the narrow distance between the subframe pinch welds! We're fixing all that …
After taking measurements off the Be Cool radiator, Aschtgen marks a small rectangle on the subframe pinch weld that will be trimmed away. This he does on both driver and passenger sides.