The deed is done. After 124,400 miles of faithful service in mostly stock form, Angry Grandpa, our in-house 2006 Chrysler 300C project car, has finally moved on to a higher level. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was sick of dinking around in the hope of trying to get a 13-second timeslip…and after having driven a 300 SRT-8 early on in the year as a kind of refresher, I realized that the whole car still felt too soft and elder-friendly for my taste. I might not be able to do anything about the Linen Gold color, but we can give Grandpa a whole new attitude.
And we did…rather, being honest, Erik at BFNY Performance in Cleveland, Ohio did. I just helped with the labor and took notes and photos. From about ten in the morning on Monday to just after six in the evening on Tuesday, in the kind of garage that we could call home in a matter of seconds, we stripped the 5.7 Hemi down to a block, pulled the engine, swapped the camshafts, cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds, thermostats, catalytic converters, lifters and yokes, pushrods, torque converters, the rear center section and drive axles, half of the driveshaft, and slapped it all back together, plus created tuning sets, making dyno runs and performing street tests. And as a testament to Erik’s knowledge of modern Mopars, that ALL was done with us leaving the shop around six both evenings…no late-night thrashes on this build. If we had gone fully mental, it might have been a 24-hour build (minus the driveshaft, which we will explain). But words only tell so much, so from the moment we started ripping into the car until we finished the last dyno pull, here we go:
So, how does the car feel? Night and day. There is no more sluggish take-off at launch…instead of barely spinning tires on all but wet surfaces, a good roll into the meaty part of first gear breaks the back end loose, and it does so with a new-found voice that I can listen to for a long time to come. (My wife, upon hearing it start up, looked me dead in the eye and told me that I shouldn’t be calling it a “sleeper” anymore.) I can’t even begin to cover all of the little bits and tricks that Erik programmed into the car via the Trinity, but two items really stand out: the electronic gas pedal is now more hair-trigger than it used to be (that’s a good thing, by the way) and the AutoStick feature has been cured of every annoying ill it’s ever had since it first appeared in the Dodge Intrepid and Eagle Vision. Instead of being a neat toy to play with and doing little else (including responding to your inputs), the manu-matic mode of the NAG-1 now actually behaves like a useable manu-matic. Gear changes are right-now, gears actually hold without automatic shifting up into the next gear, and the shifts themselves have been tightened up some without being brutal. An unexpected bonus so far is that highway economy has increased noticeably…deepening the gears, eliminating the cylinder shutoff feature and giving me a reason to drive the car hard should’ve done the polar opposite. We will have the Chrysler out at a test-and-tune just before I hop a plane to Las Vegas as long as the weather holds up, so we will see what it does there. We are also going to have Grandpa out at ATCO Dragway in New Jersey for the final Modern Street Hemi Shootout series race next month. While out there, we will do some fine-tuning, including adding in some of the ignition timing we left out because of the fuel issue.
One last thing: cost. This is a pretty thorough build, so let’s look at some figures…the heads alone would set you back about $2,100 or so to have done and the labor on the overall build we did would be pushing the $1,400-$1,500 range if you farmed it out. The lifter set dinged us for $441, the fluids and gaskets took us for about $340, and dyno time cost varies by shop, but we were on the rollers for about an hour or so, and made at least five pulls plus a baseline run. But look at the other components: you can junkyard source, eBay hunt, Craigslist browse or dig through the countless forums to locate the camshaft, the converter, the rear end housing and axles, the exhaust manifolds and cats, and other items like the transmission control module for an SRT car, a 6.1L PCM, and if you’re handy with wrenches and don’t mind getting dirty and greasy, could save a ton of money on the deal. Don’t be intimidated by working on a late-model…do your homework and it’s actually pretty straightforward.
So what’s next for Grandpa after ATCO? At this point, we aren’t sure. After the year he’s had and the miles the car has covered, maybe some rest and relaxation is in order. There are other vehicles that need attention here at BangShift Mid-West, and we’re pretty stoked to have the Chrysler where it’s at right now.
We want to thank everybody that threw in on this deal…this build wouldn’t have happened without their generosity and support: Erik at BFNY Performance, Craig Thibeau at Thitek, Ben Maniaci and Paul Buza at Enhanced Transmissions, Tim Mulcahy at Cleveland Power and Performance, and from myself personally, Brian and Eric for manning the stations while I was spinning wrenches for the last couple of days. It’s been a blast…and it’s been worth every second.