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© 1991-2017 Rick Ehrenberg — used under license
A fast and quick Road Runner for the street, one that’s not afraid of twisty roads, too.
Longtime Mopar Action readers know that we like fast Mopars. Hey, you probably do, too, or you wouldn’t be here.
Most of you also know that we’ve long touted the basic goodness of Mopar’s rigid and light unibody construction, indirect-spring (T-bar) front suspension, asymmetrical leafs in the rear, etc. We’ve surely validated our theories via running our Green Brick 1969 Valiant in the Car and Driver One Lap of America and kicking some serious butt — again and again.
The Road Runner will kind of be a 12/10ths scale Valiant, although, while it will surely be a corner burner, the emphasis will be more on straight-line rice butt-kicking.
We began with a well-used ’69 Road Runner, with decent paint and a tired 440 under the hood. The plan was - and still is - to build a 600+ HP big-block, 100% pump-91 streetable, using the cheapest pars that would still be stone-axe reliable. We enlisted the services of well-known Mopar engine Builder Ray Barton to make the numbers for us.
DECEMBER 2002 issue - Basic premise of project, parts selection - junkyard block, etc.
FEBRUARY 2003 issue - Block prep, installing billet main caps, align honing, bore work
APRIL 2003 issue - Partial shortblock buildup
JUNE 2003 issue - Shortblock, continued, good rods, etc.
AUGUST 2003 issue - Oiling system
OCTOBER 2003 issue - Edelbrock heads
DECEMBER 2003 issue - Valvetrain
FEBRUARY 2004 issue - Chassis stiffening to handle the torque
APRIL 2004 issue - Manifold dyno shootout - 593 HP
JUNE 2004 issue - camshaft test, jetting, timing changes, 616 HP
AUGUST 2004 issue - Dressing the engine - pulleys, mounts, water and PS pumps, etc.
OCTOBER 2004 issue - engine installation secrets
As we got the mill ready for installation, we also were prepping the rest of the car to not blow up under the gaff of Barton’s 600+ HP, and we got the ‘Beeper to the strip - and a chassis dyno! In fact, on Feb. 14th, 2004, we baselined the car with the high-mileage, near-stock 440-6. We did this with the help of the cool folks at Bristol Dyno Service in Bristol, CT. It was a fun mid-winter break, here’s the Videos :
Hey, what were you expecting? It was rated 390 HP, SAE gross. That’s maybe 330 or so, SAE net. Then the drivetrain loss.. note that the first 2 runs were in second gear, the last - and best - was in third. We couldn’t pull it down low - the TorqueFlite would downshift!
Then we installed the new Barton engine
DECEMBER 2004 issue - tuning for street driveability
Before attacking the track, we concentrated on prepping the ‘Beeper for immaculate road manners - “driveability” in Detroit-ese. We also took pains to prevent trouble before it showed up!
We installed a full-length TTI exhaust system (awesome 3" mandrel-bent stuff), 3/8" fuel pickup from Year One, full-length 3/8" lines from Inline Tube, a superstrong Denny’s aluminum driveshaft, a really, really slick kickdown cable setup from Bouchillon Performance - paired with AR Engineering’s tall throttle bracket kit, swapped to the latest Holley high-tech 870-CFM vacuum-secondary Street Avenger carburetor. We also spent quite a bit of time dialing in the advance curve in out MP vacuum-advance distributor – this proved to be a key item. Without reworking this distributor, your chances at streeability are near zero!
We also turned the underhood area into a plumber’s nightmare, by adding a super-trick fuel vapor return setup that imparted EFI-like starting, idling, etc., and a PCV collection system that guaranteed an oil-free intake charge. All this on pocket change!
Then -- ta-dah! – we ran the now slightly detuned 496 on a Dynojet chassis dyno. Where, on 91 octane pump unleaded, we made – get this – 60% more power than our old 440 6-Pack engine!
Before heading out to the drag strip, we had a few more minor chores to attend to. We knew, from our original dyno testing at Barton’s, that the original ‘68-69 round air cleaner setup was restrictive, so we ordered up one of Comp Cam’s lightweight, free-flowing 14" units - a 30-second installation. We did a bit of “by ear” and “seat of pants” carburetor tuning on our new Holley.
Wanting to keep out lower extremities intact, we slipped in one of those way-cool composite tranny shields from CSR.
From experience, we knew that one of the first failures was likely to be the left engine mount insulator, so Schumacher’s hooked us up with his way-cool bolt-in adjustable, urethane-insulated torque strut kits. Since it bolts in to the K-member at the swaybar points, we took the opportunity to upgrade to a fat-boy front bar from Firm Feel, Inc.
And, although it nearly gave us a coronary to send any money to the French, we had little choice if we were gonna hook up at all – we needed a pair of BFG Drag Radials. On they went.
Result: our street tuning was way off for drag strip / drag tire launch, especially with the huge-diameter tires coupled to 3.23:1 cogs. First gear was nearly all bog. Still, 12.5 @ 115 was respectable, considering that we drove from the interstate at 65 plus - plus right to the starting line. But we know there’s lots more to come – after all, our second name’s not Action for nothing!
For this installment, we decided to attack -- literally -- a sports-car autocross held at a local airport. Before heading out, we headed off disaster by plumbing in Moroso's 3-quart oil accumulator, keeping the Barton 496's bottom end supplied with solid oil even if the pickup tube became uncovered. We also cut way, way down on understeer by installing one of Firm Feel, Inc.'s new over-the-axle rear sway bars -- basically, one of the 'good' (no unsprung weight increase) E-body designs, re-engineered for B-body use. Way cool.
While we didn't win the 'cross, we were also one of the minority of entrants that took down no cones all day. Our decades-old rock-hard tires hurt us, but the chassis response was truly excellent. Read all about it in the April issue.
Or, just go slow around corners.
The Bold Beeper had, eons ago, been the test bed for the famous Mopar Action brake-swap upgrade; but with our newfound velocity, thanks to 500 cubes of Barton-Edelbrock HP, we soon learned that we needed even better brakes.
With a cool set of CNC billet adapters from AR Engineering, we retrofitted Viper / Brembo 4-piston aluminum calipers onto our stock Mopar 12" cop-car rotors. Amazingly, it this setup even cleared out 15" OEM Mopar wheels! As icing on the cake, we added a pair of stiff ‘n’ light tubular upper control ams.
While we were looking at (and wrenching on!) brakes, we decided to see what else was out there. We uncovered several cool gems, including a low-cost solution for pre’73 A-body owners desirous of keeping their 4-inch bolt circle, and some solutions for - get this! - 1950's Mopars!
This is one issue you don’t wanna miss.
With our new Viper calipers, we needed a way to get the front/rear brake proportioning dialed in. We used the typical adjustable valve, and we show you all the secrets to getting the proportioning dialed in correctly, which can make a huge difference in stopping distances
We also have some cool steering upgrades, via Firm Feel Inc., up our (tie-rod) sleeves!
Don’t have this issue? You’re dead!
We finally got the ‘Beeper to an alignment shop, and we show you all the secrets we’ve learned to get the most cornering power, straight-line stability, and tire life for your Mopar. We also investigated a new, low-cost wide-range oxygen sensor (A/F gauge) setup from AEM. This is the tuning tool for the new millennium, giving you a true view of what’s happening each time the mix goes bang! in the cylinders. This is one installment you really don’t wanna miss.
Copies of most back of these back issues can be had - for a price.
Engine Builder/dyno testing, camshaft, timing set: Ray Barton Racing Engines, Inc.
224 E. Penn Avenue
Robesonia, PA 19551
Sway Bar: Firm Feel Inc.
2730 NW Bliss Road
Vancouver, WA 98685
Scattershield: CSR Performance Produsts
16936 County Road 252
McAlpin, FL 32062
Engine Mounts and Torque Strut: Schumacher Creative Services
2025 N.E. 123rd
Seattle, WA 98125
Polymer Air Cleaner, Rocker Arms: Competition Cams, Inc.
3406 Democrat Road
Memphis, TN 38118
Axle Shafts: Moser Engineering, Inc
102 Performance Dr.
Portland, IN 47371
Carburetor(s), carb tuning parts: Holley Administratiion
P.O. Box 10360
Bowling Green, KY 42102-7360
Aluminum Driveshaft: Denny’s Driveshaft Shop
1189 Military Road
Kenmore, NY 14217
Kickdown Cable Setup, Engine Pulleys: Bouchillon Performance
937 Commerce Circle
Hanahan, SC 29406
Pre-formed Steel Fuel Lines: Inline Tube
15066 technology Dr.
Shelby Township, MI 48315
PCV Catch Can: Summit Racing
1200 Southeast Av
Tallmadge, OH 44278
Distributor Tuning Parts: Mallory Division, Mr. Gasket Corp.
10601 Memphis Ave. #12
Cleveland, OH 44144
Ignition Wires: Taylor-Vertex
301 Highgrove Road
Grandview, MO 64030
Urethane Trans. Mount: Imperial Services
Frankenmuth, MI 48734
High-Torque Mini-Starter: Mancini Racing, Inc.
33524 Kelly Road
Clinton Township, MI 48035
Wiring Harnesses: M&H Electric Fabricators
13537 Alondra Bl.
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670Available from Year One (see below)
Ignition Coil and Strap, Alternator and PS Brackets, PS Hoses, Heater Hose Brackets, Dipstick, Ground Cable: Year One, Inc.
Braselton, GA 30517
Headers, Exhaust system: TTI - Tube Technologies
1555 Consumer Circle
Corona, CA 92880
Oil Filter Screen: Stewart Development
6006 Ball Park Road
Thomasville, NC 27360
Engine Dolly, Throttle Bracket, Distributor Clamp, manifold & coil brackets: AR Engineering Ltd.
PO Box 3168
Wilsonville, OR 97070
Sold only thru dealers, see website for list
Cylinder Heads, Victor, Torker, 6-Bbl Intake Manifolds: Edelbrock Corp.
2700 California Street
Torrance, CA 90503
Flex Plate, Water Pump and Housing, M-1 Intake Manifold, Vibration Damper, Rocker Shaft Hold-Downs, Oil Pump, Drive Gear: Mopar Performance Division
Chassis Upgrades, Driveshaft Safety Loop: Auto Rust Technicians
275 Niantic Av.
Cranston RI 02907
Valve Lifters: Schubeck Racing Engines
4160 S. Cameron St. #D
Las Vegas NV 89103
Pushrods: IRC - International Racing Components
5202 184th Street East
Tacoma, WA 98446
Oil Pan: Charlie’s Oil Pans
5281 S. Hametown Rd.
Norton OH 44203
Windage tray, adjustable oil pressure valve: Milodon Inc.
20716 Plummer Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Phone: (818) 407-1211
80 Carter Drive
Guilford, CT 06437-2116
Carburetor Jetting plates: Promax Carbs and Performance Parts
P.O Box 24603
Indianapolis, IN 46224
Engine Storage Protection Kit: Unusual Automotive Solutions
Triangle, VA 22172
Connecting Rods: Custom made for Ray Barton by:
Manley Performance Products, Inc.
1960 Swarthmore Avenue
Lakewood, New Jersey 08701
PolyDyn Polymer Coatings: Polymer Dynamics, Inc.
4116 Siegel St.
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 694 - 3296
Forged Pistons: CP Pistons
1902 McGaw Ave.
Irvine, CA 92614
Fasteners: ARP - Automotive Racing Products
531 Spectrum Circle
Oxnard, CA 93030
Main Bearing Caps (billet): Pro-Gram Engineering Corp.
475 5th Street NE
Barberton, Ohio 44203
Crankshaft: Ohio Crankshaft
5453 Route 49
Greenville OH 45331
Head Gasket: Fel-Pro / Federal Mogul Corp.
26555 Northwestern Highway
Southfield, Michigan 48034
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