Detroit Muscle Featured Projects

Detroit Muscle Builds

Parts Used In This Episode

Reilly Motorsports
Custom Tubular Suspension System
Stephens Performance
Clutch Brake Pedal Assembly
The Industrial Depot
Tools, Hardware, Shop Supplies

Episode Transcript

(Tommy)>> You're watching Powernation!

(Tommy)>> Today on Detroit Muscle we pamper the engine bay of our Road Runner so our Hemi powerplant will pop when it's dropped in, and we also get locked and loaded with installing a pistol grip shifter, aiming for maximum Mopar magnificence. [ MUSIC ] [ engines revving ] [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> Hey guys, welcome to Detroit Muscle. If you're into high performance Hemis, snatching gears with a pistol grip, and shiny paint what we have up our sleeve is gonna tickle your fancy because this big hunk of Detroit power is going in this thing today. On our Road Runner we aren't planning to run a hood on this thing. So a pretty engine bay is a must for our final product. This high tower Hemi looks impressive. In there, not so much. Joel and I have some work to do. Now we've done a small amount of disassembly here on the front to help the painting process go a lot faster. Got some of it out of the way. Now I've also been spending some time kind of accessing our surface, and I've hit what I refer to as a moral dilemma. Now what needs to happen to do a repair by the book under the hood is all this material should be removed because a lot of this filler has been exposed to the elements for quite some time. Also the primer that's on here probably come out of a rattle can, and that's usually lacquer based stuff, but in our situation check out the rest of the car. It's got patina on it. So what we're gonna do is mow this down with some aggressive paper and then bury some bad decisions in some polyester primer. Then we'll sand that and paint it, and it'll look like a million bucks. The problem with doing it this way, the repair won't last as long as it should. [ sander buzzing ] [ MUSIC ] [ compressed air hissing ] [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> While Joel's finishing up taping I'm gonna go ahead and get some primer mixed up. Now what we're gonna be applying is polyester primer. It's more or less a sprayable form of body filler. It mixes four to one. This one's direct to metal. All we've got to do is fill the gun up and we can get to spraying. [ spray gun hissing ] [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> Well we let our Road Runner hang out overnight to make sure that that primer was good and dry cause Joel applied several coats trying to hide a bunch of these fender well uglies. After that we're gonna do some hand massaging of some 180 grit paper, and then we're gonna seal this thing and paint it. Now I know a few of you painters out there are probably cringing at the thought of painting over top of 180 grit scratches. Normally the rule of thumb is 320 dry or 400 wet, but in our application, a patina car, the engine bay, this will work. It's a bit excessive.

(Joel)>> There's a big low spot. I had to make sure it was in there. It filled up good. [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> After a few hours of some quality time with Joel and some sand paper we're ready to start applying our first coat of black. [ spray gun hissing ]

(Tommy)>> It's gonna be some epoxy primer. This will seal off that polyester and help hide some scratches left by that 80 grit paper. We'll everything is all flashed off, and now it's time to spray on the shiny. [ spray gun hissing ] [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> Well there you have it. We spent a couple of hours doing some prep, spent a few hundred bucks on some painting supplies, and I have to say for our investment we've got a whole lot of return on it. So what do you think?

(Joel)>> You know honestly it's been a minute since I laid down any polyester primer, but that stuff laid down smooth, it sanded out clean, and I think the results speak for themselves.

(Tommy)>> Could be that you're just looking at the side that I sanded. Coming up, if you're pondering a Hemi swap we'll give you our plan of attack for a late model transplant.

(Tommy)>> Now there's one term that if you own a Mopar that gives you a sense of pride if you can associate it with your car, and that is it's got a Hemi in it, and that's what we're gonna be doing today. We're gonna install this late model powerplant into our '69 Road Runner. Doing a conversion like this peaks the interest of a lot of folks, but at the same time intimidates the heck out of them because there's quite a bit that can go into this install. So why would somebody want to do something like this? Well there's a few reasons. Late model powerplants usually make more power more efficiently, which translates to longer life, more performance, and even better fuel mileage. This pretty Hemi didn't start off looking like this. We bought this thing out of the salvage yard. I was told it was involved in a friction fire. That's where your pocket book and payment book get too close together, causing detrimental injury to your vehicle. [ MUSIC ] The guys in Engine Power cleaned this thing up, sprayed on some new paint, threw in a camshaft and some springs, and then locked her down to the dyno to see what it would make. 550 horse ain't too bad. [ drill humming ]

(Joel)>> She ain't going nowhere.

(Tommy)>> That engine fell right into place just as smooth as butter, and a lot of that came from the design from Riley Motorsports. Our front suspension setup, and what they did is they located our new engine in the exact same location as a stock 440 or a 383, and what you would want to keep in mind if you were gonna make your own mounts, and that would be the center line of the crankshaft and the surface where the transmission and engine both meet up. Once you get the engine in place it may give you a sense of accomplishment, but in all reality this is where all the work begins because now you have to take all the operating systems of that engine and make them work in perfect harmony. Kinda like the radiator. A replacement radiator for a '69 Road Runner has an inlet on the top passenger side, and an outlet on the lower driver's side. For our six-four both of them are on that side, the passenger. So to make this one connect to that one with a stock unit you're gonna have to be a bit creative, build you a hose, and so forth. There are companies out there that make Hemi conversion radiators with both of them on the same side, which will make your life a whole lot easier. The next thing I want to talk about is your alternator. Now what we're running is a relocation kit that we picked up from Holley. It moves it up and out of the way. From the factory the alternator would be located in this area, and the problem with it being like that is interference. You'll hit your frame rail. So to try to make a stock piece work you're gonna have to get to slicing and dicing. With that one it bolts right into place.

(Joel)>> And for those of you that have never wrestled with one of these modern engine conversions one of the hurdles that you will run into is just trying to find an alternator that works with your e-c-u. Now lucky for us Holley has the solution. This setup actually doesn't require the factory Mopar e-c-u. So it's gonna work with whatever engine control system we decide to go with. All you're gonna need is a single wire connected directly to the "L" terminal, which will supply enough juice to spin the alternator and charge your entire electrical system, which is gonna save Tom and I one heck of a headache because this setup actually ties directly into our Terminator-X engine control system.

(Tommy)>> So now let's talk about the subject or category that scares people the most with one of these late model conversions, and that would be the wiring. You have a couple of options. One is you can take the stock wiring harness, cut it down, take out all the stuff you don't need, and then have the e-c-u reworked, or you can do like what we did and go with an aftermarket setup. This has some convenience to it. One, each wiring connector comes labeled. So you know what goes where. Plus all this has instructions to eliminate guess work. However your e-c-u will require a tune, but if you're one of those guys that can't leave things well enough alone, like swapping in a new cam, headers, intake, and so on well that stock tune wouldn't work. We're not gonna get into all that right now. We've still got a car to build, but I do need to put that intake on and see what this thing looks like. Here bud, hold half this awkwardness.

(Joel)>> I got you. She may be awkward but man that looks cool.

(Tommy)>> You've got velocity stacks, dual quads, a long legged intake, and a Hemi. We're on to something.

(Joel)>> I think we're gonna be upsetting every old lady and dog in the neighborhood by the time we get her hooked up.

(Tommy)>> Up next, Joel comes through in a clutch while I'll see if our transmission measures up.

(Joel)>> You know, before we even started this build Tom and I agreed that we wanted this car to make a statement, and man I've got to tell you between these fancy billet wheels, this aggressive stance, and that big ole nasty tunnel ram sticking out the top I'd say we're well on our way.

(Tommy)>> Well we're gonna continue that mindset throughout from front bumper all the way to the back. So that means we're gonna have to address a portion right here in the middle, and that would be the feel that you receive while sitting in the driver's seat. The way we plan to enhance that emotion is with a manual transmission. You know there's just something about the ability to dump the clutch, snatch second gear, and then power shift through the rest of them. This car rode off the assembly line as an automatic. You can tell by that big wide brake pedal, and there's no hole or hump on the transmission tunnel for a shifter to be sticking back through. Now you know often times with a ride like this people don't even consider them a muscle car unless they've got three pedals, and how could we build this ride without installing a pistol grip shifter. [ MUSIC ]

(Joel)>> Now that we've got the windshield and the dash assembly out of the Road Runner I'm gonna go ahead and start tearing out that factory brake pedal. Now believe it or not it's actually easier to just pull that entire brake pedal assembly out as one complete unit. Basically you've got five or six bolts up underneath the dash, some extra brackets, some hardware. I'm gonna pull all that out, sand blast them, repaint them, make them look pretty again. [ ratchet clicking ] [ MUSIC ] Beauty! [ MUSIC ] And just like that no muss, no fuss, the rust is dust. The factory mounting brackets and hardware are all cleaned up, sand blasted, repainted, and look pretty snazzy bolted up to this clutch and brake pedal assembly we got from Stephens Performance. Now some of you at home might be wondering why we decided to go with a reproduction assembly instead of a factory original, and the answer quite simply is time. I know some guys that have tried doing this conversion at home, and it was not easy. So why put yourself through the headache when Chrysler has already done the engineering work for you? Although this particular Road Runner didn't come with a manual transmission a lot of them back in the day did. So you already know the parts are out there. It really just comes down to whether or not you want to spend the extra time and elbow grease sprucing up a factory original part that you pulled out of a junkyard, or if you just want it to bolt right in place when you pull it out of the box. Me personally, I prefer the later.

(Tommy)>> A Road Runner with a stick in it from the factory would have had a four speed in it, which is plenty cool but there's a lot better of an option out there today. With our trans swap we're gonna be adding an overdrive. This peaks the interest of quite a few folks because it can make your ride a lot more enjoyable to drive because it dramatically lowers the r-p-m level when shift into that extra gear. To do an upgrade like this there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle to get the job done correctly. There are your obvious parts like your flywheel, pressure plate, and clutch disc, but it's those little pieces that always cause you the most heartache. This Pro Fit kit that we picked up from American Powertrain saves you all that pain. The center piece to this swap is obviously the transmission. We're gonna be running a Tremec TKX that our buddies have doctored on. It puts everything in a sweet spot. The shifter isn't so far forward that it slaps the dash, or so far back that it's uncomfortable and awkward. Another great thing about these five speeds are the physical size. We've got a 727 automatic like what our Road Runner would have rolled out of the factory with. Now if you'll look at the case and the tail housing you'll notice everything flows together relatively well, and it has a small package, and it's nice and tight to the shaft that runs throughout the middle of the tranny. When you're doing an automatic to manual swap it can give you the sense that you're trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and the only way you can get it to work is with some whittling. Now with that TKX cutting is mandatory but it's minimal. Up next, we set our sights on installing Road Burner's gearbox with a wood grain grip that will trip your trigger.

(Tommy)>> The next thing that we need to do is measure from the surface here on the transmission to where this clutch release bearing is gonna ride. What we're looking for is 150 thousandths. That's the ideal setup. Technically the tolerance is between 100 and 200 but that's what we're going for. The first part of the equation we need is the distance from the bell housing to the fingers of the pressure plate. That gives us 3.886. Next we'll measure the distance from the release bearing to the transmission, which is 3.749. So now let's see where we're at with our two numbers. [ MUSIC ] Well we're at 137. The sweet spot is 150. That's pretty close, and we really can't get to that 150 number without having to do some machining because there's no shims behind here. The next thing we need to do now is basically cut us a hole for this pistol grip to protrude through that transmission tunnel, and then we can finally put this thing in. [ MUSIC ] So what do you think?

(Joel)>> It should fit just fine.

(Tommy)>> If it won't we'll just cut a bigger hole.

(Joel)>> To make the cut in the transmission tunnel for our new shifter linkage I'm gonna be using our new flex head reversing cutoff tool we got from Matco. It has a quick action, rear reversing collar to help keep sparks away from your face and a three way flex head that can change from a neutral position to 25 degrees up or down to help you get into those hard to reach spots. [ MUSIC ] [ saw buzzing ] [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> Do you think your hole's gonna make it fit into place just right?

(Joel)>> I think it's gonna slip right in there like a...

(Tommy)>> Careful with your words. G-rated show! [ MUSIC ]

(Joel)>> I think it's gonna fit perfectly. [ MUSIC ]

(Tommy)>> Oh, so close! [ drill humming ]

(Joel)>> If our old Road Runner came from the factory with a mechanical clutch assembly it would have had a bunch of intricate parts to it. Kinda like it was designed by some crazy cartoon coyote. It would have had things like Z-bars, and rods, and springs, and all kinds of stuff going every which direction, which is all well and good, and worked fine for back in the day, but it did result in some excessive clutch wear, some cramped up legs, and even some broken seat bolt studs. However, American Powertrain's hydraulic clutch assembly makes driving a manual feel less like a labor and more like a luxury. With this setup every push of the pedal results in direct movement of the clutch, and smoother, more responsive shifting. [ MUSIC ] Now that I got the clutch master cylinder bolted in it's time to go ahead and link it up to the pedal, but before I do that I need to go ahead and calculate my pedal ratio. This is a commonly overlooked yet super important aspect of the clutch pedal assembly. If your ratio is too deep you risk slamming the push rod into the guts of the clutch master causing it to implode. Too shallow and your clutch won't fully disengage causing erratic shifting. American Powertrain recommends a six to one pedal ratio, and I already know that the distance from my fulcrum to my foot pedal is 12 inches, and from the fulcrum to the push rod is two inches. So I'm right in that sweet spot. Now Tom and I are well away that a pistol grip shifter wasn't available until 1970, but we just couldn't resist. In my opinion it's one of the most iconic center pieces to grace the floor boards of any muscle car in history, and it truly gives a Mopar its menacing personality. Check this thing out. The wood grain side handle rests easily in the palm of your hand, giving you the sensation of holding a 44 Magnum, hence the name "pistol grip".

(Tommy)>> Today has been a pretty good day. We've got quite a bit accomplished. Now when we kicked it off it wasn't all fun and games. We had to kinda break out a six pack of some elbow grease. With everything all shined up we were good to go to drop in that high tower Hemi, and I have to say that big power plant definitely changes the curb appeal of Road Burner. With that in place it was time to bolt in the multiplying factor times five of the driver's seat, and that would be that overdrive tranny. Joel what do you think about that pistol grip?

(Joel)>> You want to talk about the cherry on top of the sundae that thing looks pretty nasty in there. I can't wait to start jamming through some gears on the black top.

(Tommy)>> Yeah, it's probably gonna feel pretty sweet with you over there in the passenger seat.

(Joel)>> You mean you're not gonna let me drive?
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