Story and photos by Richard Ehrenberg. Copyright © 2006 Mopar Action. Used by permission. First printed in Mopar Action
When this series began, way back in our December 2002 issue, we promised ourselves, and you, a car that would turn 11s in the quarter-mile. Well, we never quite achieved that goal. We knew that the car had 11s in it, to be sure. But we’ve all heard the “would'a, could'a, should'a” stories again and again. Stories. Baloney! We wanted a boilerplate timeslip!
With that in mind, we headed to a local track. It was an early fall day, and we were hoping for coolish temperatures and great track conditions. Not. The track was greasy, and, compounded by our error of running 35 psi in the Drag Radials on the first run, we encountered lots of wheelspin. Lots. And turned a ... well, you don't want to know.
Note: while the actual tire recommendations may be different today, the methods should be similar.
We returned immediately to staging, but there was a protracted delay because someone lubed the macadam bigtime. As we sat there, inching ahead-starting, shutting off, restarting, both ambient and our coolants temperatures began to rise; an electric fan or garden sprayer would been handy. By the time we were allowed to make run #2, the ambient was almost 90, and our coolant was around 210. Still, with our cheater slicks now at 20 psi, we expected to run the number.
Well, the track was now really greasy. And, for the first time ever, our ’Beeper detonated - audibly - down the track. Yet it delivered: 11.9 @ 116. This, in full street trim, closed, full exhaust, 3.23 gears, and a wet weight of - are you ready? - 3915 pounds. Now that we've done the deed, we can get on with the rest of our lives. But this isn’t the end of the timeslip quest, only it's now a back-burner deal.
Next up was fitting some serious tires to our slick Hot Wheels 17x9" alloys. If you recall the last issue, we had fitted some temporary auction-house tires, since, despite all the measuring in the world, no way were we gonna shell out big bucks for really good rubber until we were 100% convinced that they would fit. But fit they did, with room to spare.
So we now had to decide on the best tires out there. Actually, up front, it was surprisingly easy: We'd replace the Fordspec (OEM) Goodyear Eagle F1 275/40-17s with the significantly more aggressive "replacement" Eagle F1s. Surprisingly, these, despite having the same size designation as the FoMoCo ones, measure up almost a full inch wider. Luckily, they too, clear OK, and give our 'Runner a really aggressive stance, especially when viewed from the front 3/4.
Out back, we really liked the fitment of the 275/S5-17s, but we weren't enamored of the hard-compound SUV-spec Dunlops. However, in that size, one that's really ideal for the rear of E-bodies and ’68-up B-bodies, there's not much out there except SUV tires. Luckily, some of today's highbuck Euro SUVs are pretty close to performance vehicles (Porsche, etc.) and require real performance rubber, speed rating 'n all. Digging through the Goodyear web page, we found what we were looking for: Eagle Wrangler F-1 s, which are “V” speed rated (149 MPH). With a treadwear rating of only 240, we knew they were significantly softer compound than the #340 Dunlops.
The bottom line: They work, actually being able to hold first gear from a 10 MPH roll. With all the new Goodyears installed, the car really, really hooks on mountain switchbacks and expressway ramps. In fact, a riced-out Honda tried to stay with us on just such an exit ramp-one with a nasty diminishing radius to trap the foolhardy. And trapped he was. Wonder how it felt looking back up the ramp after the sushislinger looped his Asian oxcart? We'll never know, as we were outta there in a New York minute!
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