AS of today we have 14 days to get our 1963 Dodge Phoenix ready to drive to the Running On Empty Festival in the outback NSW town of Cobar.
Carnage presenter Scotty bought the Dodge a few months back on the online auction website GraysOnline, for a measly $1454.30! The car had no engine and someone had started rubbing back the left-hand side of the car, but otherwise it’s complete.
Our mission is to get the car running, registered and looking halfway presentable in time to make the first day of the festival, 26 October.
The original plan was to rebuild a 361-cube Chrysler big-block that Scotty had in bits at home, but by the time we priced up all the extras that we would need (heads, intake and more) it was going to be almost as cheap to buy a brand-new 440ci Blueprint motor from Eagle Auto Parts. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out which way we went!
Paul Rogers Transmissions has built a tough 727 push-button Torqueflite auto for us, and the factory 8¾-inch diff will do the job for now.
So far, so simple, but there are a few twists to watch out for when jamming a 440 into a right-hand-drive Phoenix, including getting the sump and exhaust to fit. Andrew from Extracted Performance Exhausts will work his magic on a custom set of pipes, but we’ll have to get cracking to get everything sitting in place ready for him.
The front drum brakes will get the chop for a set of discs and we’ll go right through the suspension too. We’re going to jam the biggest set of rims and rubber under the rear that we can, and then we’re looking at tubbing the car and fitting some really decent meats when we attack phase two of the build next year.
Apart from shiny Cragar SS rims and classic BF Goodrich rubber, the car won’t get much of a beauty upgrade for now – we’ll either try to match the paint that’s on it or give it a shot of black primer – which would suit the Running On Empty vibes.
Our original goal for the car was to get it on the road for under $10,000, but the engine and ’box will probably blow that total out by a few grand. Still, it should end up being whole lot of fun for the coin.
Right now, Scotty has the engine sitting in place and we’ve got just about all the bits and pieces we need to make the deadline should be eminently doable, even with time out as we plan for Street Machine Drag Challenge and get Turbo Taxi back on the road.
But hey, if anyone can blow out a deadline, it’s us! To see how it pans out, look for the new episode of Carnage towards the end of the month.