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  • Don Voorhees

66 Charger - Hemi Conversion

One of my favorite customers has a very clean 66 Charger. I've done work on this car before, adding a Gear Vendors overdrive unit to it, as well as doing some fuel system, exhaust, and drive shaft work. It's got a very stout 440 stroked motor with well over 600 HP already! The owner is a die hard Mopar fan and genuine "car guy" and as such ... he had to have a Hemi, cant blame him! His choice? A Ray Barton built 528cid Hemi with Aluminum heads, two four barrels, and solid roller valve train.

I'm honored and feel privileged he is trusting me with a job of this magnitude. I cant wait to hear it fire up!

It begins!

The Ray Barton 528 Hemi arrives at my shop.

Ray Barton 528 Hemi

The engine is already broken in and has dyno time on it. Sorry - I never disclose HP numbers for people, you'll have to ask him if you know or see him around.

Here is the car, really clean and well kept.

Here is the engine bay, nice 440 stroked to near 500cid.

Lets start! Draining the fluids.

Stripping the engine down, I decided to remove as much as possible to prevent any scratching or damage to the engine bay.

I do NOT like big block Mopar headers, they are a horrible pain the ass to work with. Here the engine is ready to be pulled, completely disconnected, wiring nicely laid aside.

Old with the old.................

Next to the new.....for now.

The engine bay, I'm going to do a little clean up and detailing while it's empty.

Now to start the install.....

The hemi is much bigger than the 440, it fought me every step of the way, the custom Hemi mounts were no help either.

Pretty neat, Barton Brands his Hemi blocks.

SFI rated flywheel goes on, with ARP bolts.

It's in, super tight fit, passenger side valve cover is less than 1/4 inch off the shock tower.

I will had a hard a time with the headers as I expected, large primary Hemi headers again are really tough to work with. The drivers side was in and out probably 10 times for fitment. More on the drivers side and the starter below, lol.

Pass. side

Drivers side, complete nightmare.

Finished product, looks really nice and has clearance so far.

With the block and headers in and looking good, I'll start prepping some accessories, then I'm done for the day.

Nice aluminum impeller water pump.

So a few days have passed and I but some of the accessories on, it's looking good.

The battery and all accessories are in and the headers were bolted in place, but not tightened yet which was good because an unexpected situation with the starter popped up.

When putting these headers in you have to put the starter and header in together, as there is no way to get the starter in with the header in place. After trying to get the starter bolted in I realized one of the starter holes wasn't lining up, UGH! After much contemplation and contorting my body to try and get this thing in, I had to bite the bullet and pull the drivers side header again to get better access to the starter.

Turns out the Powermaster starter (which is clock-able) has a larger than normal mounting plate, this particular block has a larger than I have ever seen "ear" on the edge of the block, Ive never seen one this pronounced before.

This is the result:

After making a few calls to Barton, Powermaster, and talking to friends I came to the conclusion that modifying the starter was the way to go. Most people said split it 50/50 with the block and starter but I wasn't too keen on cutting on a block of this value and with the engine and trans installed it wasn't going to be easy. I was able to make a nicely radius'ed cut on the starter bracket and smooth it out so there wasn't going to be any stress risers or other weak spots.

This was pic of it in progress, but you get the idea:

After all the modification to the starter bracket, I wanted to insure everything was OK before putting the header back in - so I grabbed my trusty remote starter switch.

Keep in mind this is a 500+ inch Hemi with high compression, the powermaster spins it with no problem at all, impressive.

With the starter in and headers back up, I am turning my attention to the ignition and fuel systems .

It's been a few weeks and Ive been hard at work buttoning up all the odds and ends under the hood, I've installed the new ignition, hooked up and welded the header collectors, and run the fuel lines, I also started it up and let it run up to temperature. I didn't take many pics during this process as I didn't have the time.

Mocked up the MSD 6AL and the coil, I ran the harness through the fender well to make it look more clean, I dont expect anyone but the most detail oriented person to notice this, but it does make for a real clean install.

Here is the everything ready to start, I'm only waiting on a throttle cable bracket from Mancini racing. The new cooling system is installed as well, really nice set up from BeCool with an awesome pre-made top quality wiring harness.

Here is the startup video, I initially had an issue where the car would start and die as soon as the key left the crank position, turned out to be the silly ignition resistor on the firewall, one of the connectors popped off.

This engine has some of the most insane throttle response I have ever seen, it's revs faster and more aggressively than most of the fuel injected performance engines I have seem

Yes - vertical video warning - LOL!

I have a little more work to do cleaning up the wiring and other odds and ends. I have to move the battery into the trunk and upgrade the fuel system, having the battery jammed up front is killing the aesthetics of the engine bay and would clean things up really nicely.

Final Update - The car is complete and the customer has picked it up and is loving it. The more run time the car gets, they better it runs. We drained the break in oil and filled it with Joe Gibbs synthetic and it runs great. Here are few pics of the engine bay cleaned up and the battery relocated, as well as a comparison of the fuel lines I replaced.

Here is the fuel line I used, 8an vs. the 5/15 hard line that was in the car. This should do nicely.

8an vs. 5/16 fuel line

Here are a few shots of the engine bay - all cleaned up and battery relocated to the trunk. Moving the battery really improved the look under the hood.

I also put a battery switch in - the owner usually manually removed the negative battery cable when the car wasn't in use.

I ran the breathers to a nice catch can with 10an braided.

And this wraps this one up!

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