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2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8: Over the top

Dave Weber helped John Jancic achieve big power with his new Challenger

Geoff Stunkard - August 19, 2011 09:00 AM

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The one telltale sign of Weber’s work is 426 Hemi emblems; however, any doubt is dispelled once the car is started. OWNER Owner John Jancic. WHEELS The Asanti wheels, again with color coded accents, complete the package. INTERIOR The interior is basically stock. ENGINE Color-coding the intake Hemi Orange with the dual stripes applied by Chris Bryant resulted in a eye-catching package with the hood open or closed. REAR The car from behind is distinctive, with the 2009 Challenger taillights and Mopar exhaust tips augmented by the SRT8 deck spoiler.

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What I wanted was simple,” John recalls. “I wanted a bad late-model, great sounding, handling, braking, six-speed car that sounds as good as it looks.

Building power in the 21st century is a much more complex process than it was when the muscle car was born.

First of all, there is a need to begin with the OEM computer science; anything you change will also modify that. After all, the car’s engine is not a stand-alone object, but is integrated into an overall system. Then there are issues associated with what you can change physically based on the space available under the hood and the final overall appearance.

John Jancic made a big step up when he decided to buy this car in 2009, adding it to a fair collection of classic Mopars he already owned. What is surprising is why he bought it.

“I bought this SRT8 six-speed to replace an SRT4 Caliber I had because my wife Marsey didn’t like the way that the stiff-shocked Caliber rode,” says John with a grin. “I enjoy a car that is fun to drive and zips around quick. So, with the Challenger, I decided to go all out with a 426 cubic inch engine and a Procharger. Now my wife, whom I love very much, says that the Challenger is too fast and loud, but, honey, I’m keeping this one!”

John did not have to go too far to begin making his mechanical dream come true. The owner of MidState Metals in Cleveland, North Carolina, went north about 100 miles to see Modern Muscle in Martinsville, Virginia, where founder Dave Weber does this kind of stuff in his sleep. Seriously, the former NASCAR Truck Series engine guru is the master of late-model set-ups and Weber not only had everything that John needed, he came with a stellar recommendation – he had already worked on several of John’s other cars.

“What I wanted was simple,” John recalls. “I wanted a bad late-model, great sounding, handling, braking, six-speed car that sounds as good as it looks.”

Weber began with his seven-liter stroker magic. For a supercharged beast, that 426-inch displacement includes a Callies forged crank, Callies rods, and Mahle pistons, with the bottom end of the block beefed up with billet main caps and head studs. The short block was built by Chris Seidle of Seidle Motorsports. The cam kit came from COMP Cams, made to Dave’s specs. Meanwhile, the CNC machines at Modern Muscle got busy massaging the OEM heads and intake, which were finished by Bryan Maloney. An MM throttle body and a set of 80-lb injectors helped complete the package.

The big ponies come in thanks to a ProCharger F1A blower, custom-adopted by Dave to the application, complete with water/methanol injection. Starting with a tuner kit, Modern Muscle provides their own fuel system for this layout – the injectors, big lines, twin Walbro 255 pumps in the back, and a Kenne Bell Boostapump. Many people trigger the Boostapump by boost, but MM uses a 2-psi pressure drop to kick it in. Dave does this as an insurance policy to maintain a flat fuel curve. The engine tuning was performed at Modern Muscle by Shea Hopkins (Shea has since left the company but Dave states he worked very hard on this car). This dyno-proven 713 ponies is backed with the factory OEM Tremec TR6060 six-speed with a Spec clutch in it, as well as the stock Getrag rear with 1,000hp axles from Driveline Specialties.

On the outside, the twin Rally Red body striping was done by Chris Bryant after removing the factory graphics and then applying the new design and some additional clearcoat. Atop the factory Brembo brakes are 20x9 Asanti rims up front, and 22x10 versions in the rear, both shod in Continental Extreme tires; Bryant also customized these to match the car’s other graphic touches. The big change inside was Modern Muscle’s pod-mounted AEM gauges, another touch where Dave applies his considerable talents. The final change is coming, a swap from the factory shifter to a new short-throw Hurst shifter version.

Of course, there are a lot of people who are taking their new SRT8 Challengers and putting them away for tomorrow, when they are “collectible.” John decided that it was better to burn out than to rust, as Neil Young used to sing, and thanks to Modern Muscle, ended up with a big-inch cruiser that can take anything he throws at it.

It has also had the benefit of letting you own one. Dave Weber, Bryan Maloney, and Chris Seidle have now formed an alliance of knowledge and refer to themselves as the Modern Muscle Performance Group, MMPG. In the near future they plan to be offering package cars similar to this one.

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