Updated control and deprecated induction

I ended my previous 1969 Charger project car update by mentioning that a major investment was ahead. Well, it turned out to be the most money I’ve ever spent. It’s also a huge improvement in my ability to handle car tasks. This major purchase will change the course of the Charger, as well as all future projects I take on.

My lovely partner in crime and I bought a garage. We also took a house out of the deal. Finally the Charger has a roof over the hood and I can now really get to work.

I’ve already taken advantage of the concrete pad, four walls, and a roof over your head by updating the induction system. The new workplace also revealed some unknown issues. While the gravel driveway used to hide stains well, the clean pavement revealed some leaks that needed addressing, leaks that led to yet another steering upgrade.

Large induction movements

I’ve been looking for ways to improve the handling characteristics of the 440 for a while now. The single-plane intake drawing air through an 800 cfm Holley Double Pumper left a lot to be desired at low rpm. That setup also gave me the worst fuel economy to date, averaging 7 mpg on a round trip to New Jersey. Do you know how much petrol still costs?

The plan was to swap the intake for a dual-plane with an Edelbrock Performer RPM as my target. I wanted to replace the cam for something milder. None of those things happened.

I’m not ashamed to say that 90 percent of the parts I throw on this car are used. My search for something for this car starts with swap meetings or the advertisements. Many new parts are hard to find at a reasonable price or are on backorder. When I started looking for intakes, I went straight to my usual sources and turned down. That’s not surprising since this is a Mopar and parts resources are limited, but it can still be quite frustrating.

I made my way to the Mopar Madness show in downtown New York. This show always produces great cars. You can spend hours looking at them all. This time I ran right past it and straight to the swap meet. Only a few sellers settled in and things weren’t looking too good when I came across an Offenhauser 360 intake with two 600-cfm Carter Competition Series carbs on it. The dual-quad setup was used and in unknown condition with a price so low that I suspected something was terribly wrong with it. I jumped on it. Although I wanted something new, it turned out to be the right move.

Screwing a multi-carb system onto a Chrysler RB engine – yes, Chrysler had one too, Nissan folks – since the first project in my new garage was about the best experience I could wish for. Getting to work on two Carter AFBs atop a 440 was like stepping back in time to the golden age of muscle cars that I missed. And when I took that first test drive, I realized that meeting your heroes isn’t always a bad thing.

I felt performance benefits across the board. The power kicks in almost immediately and it swings in one strong, steady pull toward the redline. The 440 spins those 275 Mickey Thompson Sportsmans with ease and puts a smile on my face every time a light bark lurches the car forward. It feels and smells like a dirty homemade hot rod should be, and I can’t get enough of it.

Street manners are also much better with this setup, which is a plus. I want to say that the fuel economy is better, and so far I am really impressed. I have yet to really test though, as I need a bit more time to dial it in. I also can’t resist burying the pedal in the carpet. It’s like my right foot got a lot heavier around the time I finished putting the system together.

Send, send, send

I can’t wait to do more, but the stains on the garage floor were a cold blow from reality that prevented me from spending more time fine-tuning the new setup. I feel like I’m always on the hunt for leaks.

The first leak I experienced was at the fuel tank sender unit. Filling the tank to half full was a risky undertaking, and with fuel getting more expensive these days, I thought that was the best place to start. Fortunately, the repair was easy. While there I also replaced the fuel filler neck seal.

The other leak I found was with the steering gearbox: specifically the Pitman arm seal. I replaced that a while ago and a persistent leak made me suspect bigger problems. I ordered a new seal and put it in, only to find that the leak got worse. At this point I could have tried again and kept making a mess of my garage floor – wasting even more power steering fluid – or I could have replaced the entire assembly. I chose the latter.

My original goal was to replace the steering gearbox with a factory unit. As with the intake manifold, I couldn’t find a stock replacement for a decent price. Then I found a Lares Firm Feel steering gearbox for only a little more than I would pay for a factory style unit. With the ability to customize my car in unprecedented ways as the common thread here, that’s what I did.

I mentioned in a recent update that upgrades aren’t always better. Well, some really are. This gearbox works perfectly in combination with the longer control arms and pump-down modification I made earlier. Everything came together to create that firm steering feel and tight ratio I was looking for. It feels great to know that, at least for now, I can put my steering problems behind me and focus on the many other challenges that lie between the Charger and the final stages of the renovation.

Collect and Tinker

It’s almost time to start thinking about winter. I know it’s still early, but I plan to make the most of the garage. My goal for the snow season is to paint the car, but there is still a little bit of rust that I need to deal with first. It is also a good time to start collecting parts to get the interior in order.

I still drive the car daily, with the main aim of getting the tone right. Now that it has two carburettors on top, chances are things will get messy if I don’t.

I will definitely report my progress. Oh yeah, I also “inherited” two old motorcycles (Ed. note: ONE OF US, ONE OF US). Keep that in mind in the near future.

Leave a Comment