AS I STROLLED towards the startline at Racewars 2017 on an overcast and slightly drizzly day in Albany, deep in Western Australia’s south-west, I spotted the unmistakable lines of a 1970 Dodge Challenger. In a field full of high-tech Japanese muscle and even higher-tech Euro exotica, the sight of one of the finest-looking muscle cars ever to turn a tyre brought an instant smile to my face. I watched as it headed off for an 800m rolling-start race, the distinctive rumble of a V8 engine fading off into the distance.
A little later as I strolled through the pits, I spotted the black beauty and headed over for a closer look. With its bonnet popped open I could see the familiar sight of Hemi rocker covers and associated plug leads – but hang on, there were two plug leads for every cylinder! A quick look towards the front of the engine for twin magnetos proved fruitless, and it was then that I twigged that I was looking at a modern Gen III Hemi. While you’d normally spot it a mile away, the addition of a twin four-barrel throttlebody set-up really adds to the old-school cool of the engine combo.
It wasn’t long before I tracked down the owner, Shane Jordan – an Albany local – and chucked him in front of the camera for a bit of a chat. As it turned out, despite its left-hook steering, this is a homegrown product, with all of the fabrication and engineering done locally. Not only is it a handsome-looking rig, it’s no slouch either, with some 700hp being extracted from the Hemi, which resulted in trap speeds of 226km/h over the 800m Racewars course – around 140mph in the old money.
At a glance there’s no mistaking those Hemi rocker covers, but this is one of those new-fangled Hemis. It’s been punched out to 440ci, or 7.2 litres, and makes around 700hp at the flywheel. The twin four-barrel throttle-bodies are from F.A.S.T. and feature a self-learning ECU, so the more Shane drives it—and flogs it—the smarter it gets!
The CANNONBALL-96 number plates are off Shane’s 928GT Porsche that he raced at the one-and-only event back in 1994 and they’re not just novelty plates either. To ensure they were covered by insurance, Chief Minister and keen hot rodder Marshall Perron came up with the system that allowed all of the cars competing to be registered in the Northern Territory. In case you’re wondering, Shane’s Porsche topped out at 287km/h, precisely what the Porsche engineers said the car was capable of.
Inside is a sea of red with a custom-stitched leather dash pad replacing the stock vinyl. The B&M shifter has been fitted to the stock console and the gauges replaced with white-faced units. A smaller diameter wood-rimmed steering wheel replaces the stock faux-woodgrain unit, so it’s all pretty much as the factory intended but tweaked just a little for a more updated look.
Bigger brakes means bigger wheels, and with all those extra neddies under the hood, Shane thought it would be a good idea to update the four-wheel drum brakes. A set of Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners do the job now and the wheels are 18in Shelby mags, reminiscent of racing wheels from the 60s and 70s and keeping with the classic but updated look.