Gone are the days when building a hot rod meant swapping in a junkyard motor and some bolt-ons to any old jalopy. The collector car market is now dominated by elite restoration shops that completely deconstruct and reassemble the classics of yesterday as modern hot rods. These cars are adorned with precision machined parts, exotic materials like titanium and carbon fiber, and one-off fabricated parts. In many cases, these frame-off resto-mods may take one to three years to build and cost upwards of $150,000 or more!
Hot rodding has become an over-the-top, “mine’s-bigger-than-yours” competition of insane proportions. The latest example of this comes from SpeedKore Performance in Grafton, Wisconsin. Their 1970 Dodge Charger “Tantrum” is one of the wildest custom car builds I have ever seen.
In 1970, the only people working with carbon fiber would have been the aviation industry and NASA. This space-age material is incredibly lightweight and strong. At the time this car rolled off the production line, it would have been unthinkable to have such materials in a passenger car. But that’s exactly what Speedkore have done: carbon fiber hood, front fenders, and bumpers.
When looking at a car such as this (or any show car), I am always respectful of other people’s things and would not dream of touching any of the cars on display, particularly the ones with “Please Do Not Touch” signs. This car had signs and even a person standing next to the car, and there was STILL a constant flow of people who boldly came up to the car to rap on the front fenders with their knuckles, as if they didn’t believe their own eyes. I don’t know what makes some people think they are immune to the rules or even common courtesy, but this car drew them in like a magnet. While taking pictures of the car at the 2015 SEMA Show, I saw a number of people get scolded for touching the vehicle.
Back in 1970, the top-of-the-line Charger came with a 440 engine and Six-Pack carburetors making 390 horsepower – a remarkable amount of power for the time. Today’s modern muscle cars produce even bigger numbers:
2016 Dodge Charger SRT: 470 horsepower
2016 Ford Mustang GT: 435 horsepower
2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS: 455 horsepower
That’s not to mention the premium-optioned Camaro ZL1 making 640 horsepower, and the Charger Hellcat making 707 horsepower! Well, the Speedkore Charger pushes past all of the classic muscle cars, all modern muscle cars, and most of today’s exotics and supercars.
Under the hood is an absolute terror of an engine – a 9.0L (549 cubic inch) Mercury Racing QC4v marine engine, the kind commonly found in high end powerboats. On top of that, a pair of twin 94mm turbochargers boost power output to a stratospheric 1,650 horsepower (on 112 octane race gas)! That’s more than any production Ferrari, more than the Koenigsegg Regera, more than the Hennessey Venom, and more than the forthcoming Bugatti Chiron supercar. The engine is available from Mercury Racing as an automotive crate engine for around $100,000.
The engine sports custom stainless headers, a dry-sump oiling system, and is coupled to a Tremec T-56 manual gearbox with an old-school pistol-grip shifter. This much power in a road-going car certainly raises the bar for hot rod performance builds everywhere!
But the “Tantrum” Charger is not just a straight-line dragstrip performer – it is a pro-touring car that can handle its way around the track, too! It rides on a fully custom chassis with a custom firewall, custom floors, and an integrated roll cage for safety. The rubber meets the road with a set of HRE S104 wheels that are 19″ in the front and 20″ in the rear. Massive 14″ disc brakes from BAER provide appropriate stopping power.
The car also features a full custom interior by Gabe’s Custom Interiors of San Bernardino, CA. The seats and dashboard are custom-made, with more machined bits and carbon fiber found among the leather and suede materials.
This car is an over-the-top build comparable to the likes of the “Mach Forty” from a couple of years ago. It boggles the mind to think about all of the time and effort and man hours and money that went into building this single custom vehicle. The car won a GT Award for Best Domestic at SEMA 2015.
It’s hard to imagine anyone one-upping this car in terms of technical achievement, aesthetics, or even budget. This is a new high-water mark for hot rod building, one that I don’t think will be beaten anytime soon.
Engine and Driveline
9.0L Mercury Racing – 1,650 HP
Dual 94mm Turbochargers
Air to Air Intercooler
Custom Stainless Steel Headers
Jet Performance Air/Fuel monitor
Bowler Performance Tremec T-56 transmission
Dry Sump Oil System
Suspension, Brake, and Wheels
Complete Custom Fabricated Chassis
BAER 14″ Brakes
Body and Exterior
Custom hand fabricated sheet metal throughout the build
Custom firewall, radiator support, inner fenders, floors, and roll cage
Carbon fiber fenders, hood, bumper, and valence
Custom machined taillight bezel and late-model Challenger taillights
Machined one-off door handles, fuel cap, and interior details
Aluminum machined grille with custom headlights
Full Custom Handmade interior by Gabe’s Custom Interiors
Machined billet door pulls
Carbon fiber door panels
Carbon fiber inner quarters
Custom built dash
Classic Instruments gauges
The car was also featured on Jay Leno’s Garage, check out the full episode to hear this thing running and driving!