Frank B 1968 Dodge Charger 2dr Hardtop Coupe

childhood 426 Hemi wish that took till age fifty to enjoy

Back when I was a teen in the seventies, I fell in love with one car in particular, the Dodge Charger. Not sure how it happened, but it became my passion to own one as soon as I could. I began my tinkering at age 11 when I would go scouring up thrown out lawn mower engines. I would not only completely dismantle them, but try to improve their performance, constantly, to see what the results would produce. After a few years I discovered the 426 Hemi in an autoshop repair manual in highschool. I was hooked instantly to this engine that looked nothing like anything I'd ever come across. The best part is, it was built to deliver incredible performance.

That engine turned me into a mechanical wonder boy and I got straight A's in every year of autoshop. My teacher would even make me sit at his desk for every test because he never had a student who NEVER got any test questions wrong in all his teaching years.

But being a young kid and not having credit established or and decent amount of money saved up, it became a dream that would take much longer than I ever expected to fullfill....owning a 426 Hemi and experiancing what it delivered from the drivers seat!

At age 16 I owned a 1969 Charger R/T SE as my first car. Its 440 had been blown up by a past owner and a 383 2-bbl was in its place. This 383 had a bad cam lobe because the heads from the blown 440 were transferred to it , including tripple valve springs the 440 had used for whatever crazy sized cam was lurking it it when it came apart. My next engine for this car ended up being a 72 400 Chrysler big block . It lived in the car till I sold the Charger in the late 80's and went through performance upgrades I could afford as a kid working part time.

After the 69 Charger was gone and I had to enter into adult life, I remained an engine nut, learning everything automotive I could. I was still very addicted to building and fixing engines, cars and drivetrains....especially engines....which I continued to experiment with my own performance tricks. But my goal to one day own a Hemi, a real 426 Hemi was eating at me continuously. And of course I had to build it, no if ands, or buts. It had to be inspected, assembled, and modified by my own hands, eyes, and grey matter.

After working 10 years in an autoparts store/ small machine shop, I landed a better job that opened up my freedom to finally get another car, even after becomming a father for the first time!

Into my life came a 1968 Dodge Charger 383 4bbl dual exhaust factory car in pretty restorable condition that I drove home for 3800 bucks in 1997. What a wonderfull 2.5 hour drive I had on my way home after not being in the seat of one of these cars for 10 years.

I restored that car over the next 8 years untill it was as good as any car show cream puff out there. Every inch of this car got looked over and fixed, rebuilt, replaced, and/or painted, untill it was looking and smelling like new again.

Now came the engine part.....I bought a new block! That original 383 was beyond tired. And because brand new 426 Hemi's were now available to purchase, I went for it! No crate motor for me,,, nope, remember, an engine enthusiast like myself had to build it!

Well, it got so crazy expensive, I had to put it on hold. So, I got a 68 440 out of a Imperial in a scrap yard and went to town on it until it popped out 570hp. I pulled out all my years of tricks and burried them in this engine. It runs great and kept me very happy untill I could no longer hold back on the Hemi. 9 years after enjoying the 440 I dropped the last financial bombshell on the Hemi and had it ready to find its new home in my 68 Charger. I pulled off the swap starting in January of that winter (including a major parts upgrade on the trans) and fired that beast up on no other day than April 26! (4/26/14) I turned fifty this year, and so did the Hemi. Yup, we both came into the world together, but it took us fifty years to say hello!

All I can say now is, I am one very satisfied kid who hides inside this fifty year old body and soakes up 700hp of stroked Hemi energy when ever I safely can do so. Yup, I improved on the 426. I had to go bigger, badder, and more powerfull, because I'm that kid who never stopped inventing, experimenting, and learning over all those years that passed before me. If I could go back and be younger and build more engines, I wouldn't hesitate... I love to enjoy what a well built engine can deliver. Especially the Hemi...

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