Turbocharged, EFI 265 Hemi-powered VJ Charger

Shane Graham forged his own path with his boosted, EFI 265-powered VJ Charger

Photographers: Luke Hunter

Shane Graham didn’t know much about Valiants when he bought his VJ Charger 15 years ago. He was 19 years old and in the market for an HQ coupe until this car popped up on eBay. “The look and colour sold it for me,” he says.

First published in the May 2024 issue of Street Machine

It helped that the car was fairly local and had just been treated to an incredibly fresh resto; the seller had driven it down to the local exhaust shop and back, and that was it! He wanted to go travelling, so had decided to move the Charger on. While the car was a turn-key concern, it didn’t last long in that form. “Apart from the now-15-year-old paint, I’ve changed everything on this car,” Shane laughs.

That process started with ditching the lime-green-and-black velour interior. North East Motor Trimming stripped the seats and added extra bolstering, before re-covering them in stylish BA XR6 cloth. Cools Auto Trims took care of the door trims, there’s Tru-Fit cut-pile carpet on the floor, and Shane did the custom boot fit-out himself.

Life was good until about two years into Shane’s ownership, when the warm 265 Hemi decided to wipe a cam lobe and seized four small-end bearings. Rather than rush things, Shane sourced a basket-case CL sedan with a running 265 to re-power the Charger in the interim, while he and his father Merv devised a solid plan of attack.

Other than the factory Hemi head, crank and block, pretty much everything else is bespoke

“I’d seen too many R/T replicas with triple Webers, while every other one was a V8,” Shane says. “I wanted to do something different – it had to be turbocharged or supercharged. After talking with Brad Keem with SLO265 [SM, Apr ’07] at Chryslers on the Murray, I decided to go the turbo EFI route.”

There wasn’t much reference material available on turbo Hemis, so Shane and Merv invested a full year into surfing the web, talking to experts and chasing down info. Rather than experiment with the Charger, the engine-less donor sedan was dragged back into the shed to serve as a mock-up mule.

“A lot of effort went into packaging,” Shane says, “Deciding where we wanted the turbo to sit, plus all the electronics.”

This is where things get interesting. Other than the factory Hemi head, crank and block, pretty much everything else is bespoke. The duo attacked the factory head with a die-grinder to open it up for better breathing, then filled it with Ferrea 2.02in inlet and 1.6in exhaust valves, and Crow double valve springs. Next up, a custom exhaust manifold for the Garrett GT3852R snail was fabbed from 32NB steampipe, with a six-into-one merge pipe. The three-inch dump pipe and exhaust are also the duo’s handiwork. Merv had a lot of exhaust experience through the mechanical business he ran for 30 years, but had never taken things to this level.

Moving along, the pair fashioned a custom intake manifold, complete with an 85mm throttlebody. LS1 coils light the fire, while rare-earth magnets were embedded in the alloy Romac balancer to trigger the Haltech S3 crank sensor, and a modified EF Falcon cam sensor has displaced the Hemi’s original dizzy. The Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 ECU sequentially fires the six 675cc Injector Dynamics injectors, and a Zeitronix wideband AFR monitors mixtures. An electrician by trade, Shane picked up the Haltech installation guide and completed all the wiring himself.

But wait, there’s more! The Hemi boasts a winged sump with baffling and a windage tray, a Clive Cams custom-ground bumpstick with 530thou lift and 230deg of duration, Spool H-beam rods and forged JE pistons, which had to be machined down to achieve the desired 8.5:1 static compression ratio.

Once Matt Sims Performance dialed in the tune, the Charger was strapped to the dyno to see what the four-year, home-built project was capable of. With the 40thou overbore adding a few extra cubes and the turbo pushing a conservative 10psi of boost, it churned out a very respectable 350rwhp and 485lb ft at just 5500rpm! “We could have gone wilder and made a lot more power, but that’s not what I wanted,” Shane explains. “It’s a nice streeter that’s a joy to take on road trips – even 1000km ones! The main emphasis was streetablity; it happily lives on 98-octane fuel, has tonnes of torque down low, and goes plenty fast enough on the street. The kids, Archie and Mikayla, love going for a ride in it. They call it daddy’s race car!”

Conservative as the set-up may be, Shane admits he’s a bit worried about the longevity of the factory Valiant four-speed ’box. That said, it’s managed to survive behind the turbo Hemi since 2016, and there are no issues with the third member since it was upgraded to a narrowed, four-pinion AU Falcon BorgWarner with 28-spline billet axles. The new rear was a win-win, because the full AU Series 2 discs cleared the 15-inch wheels and made engineering far more straightforward.

Up front, CNC adaptor brackets mate the AU twin-piston calipers to the Rod Shop drop stub axles. The AU2 master and booster bolted to the factory bracket and dropped straight in with a custom pushrod – bingo! The result was fully compatible, four-wheel discs with a factory handbrake and a simple stopping test by Loud Pedal Engineering for certification.

Other repairing the driver’s side chassis rail and having the engine bay colour-matched, Shane hasn’t touched the body and paint. That’s pretty good for a car that has won Top 10 Real Street and a Show ’n’ Shine Standout award at Street Machine Summernats, along with a couple of Best VJ/VK Charger gongs at Chryslers on the Murray!


Paint:Hothouse Green
Brand:265ci Chrysler Hemi
Head:Factory, ported and polished
Intake:Custom manifold, EFI Hardware 85mm throttlebody
Turbo:Garrett GT3582R
ECU:Haltech Platinum Sport 2000
Camshaft:Clive Cams custom-grind, .530in lift, 230deg duration
Conrods:Spool H-Beam
Pistons:Forged JE
Crank:Standard, custom girdle
Oil pump:Standard, Mirabito brace
Fuel system:Carter lift pump, Bosch 044 pump, Injector Dynamics 675cc injectors
Cooling:PWR radiator, Davies Craig electric pump, Spal thermo fan
Exhaust:Custom turbo manifold, 3in dump pipe, 3in single system
Ignition:LS1 coils, crank trigger
Gearbox:Valiant four-speed
Clutch:Xtreme button
Diff:AU2 Falcon BorgWarner, 28-spline axles
Front:Rod Shop drop spindles, torsion bars
Rear:Reset leaves, 2in lowering blocks
Brakes:AU2 Falcon disc (f & r)
Master Cylinder:AU2 Falcon
Rims:Weld Prostar; 15×7 (f), 15×10 (r)
Rubber:205/60R15 (f), M/T 26x10R15 (r)

My dad, Merv – I couldn’t have achieved this without him; my wife Bridie for letting me put the time and money into it; Matt Sims Performance; Jimmy at Fatal Finish Detailing.