Built From Scraps, Runs 10s
1966 Dodge Coronet
No one wants to be the slowest guy in the pack, but when six of the seven cars in your club run 8s at the track, “slow” is a relative term. To put this in perspective, the second-slowest ride here runs 8.86! In any other circle outside of this outrageous pack of Midwestern iron, Mark Gruenfeldt’s ’66 Coronet would probably be king of the hill. Thanks to a stroked 440 big-block, Mark’s managed to eke out some very respectable 10.80-second e.t.’s from a car he built entirely himself using a stack of second- and third-hand parts.
He picked up the car back in 1988 for $2,800 as a 49,000-original-mile granny special complete with a bench seat and column shifter. The car has had several motors over the years, but the current combo is a 493ci Wedge complete with an Eagle crank and rods, Diamond pistons, a 256/256-at-0.050 flat-tappet cam, a Weiand Team G intake manifold, ported factory iron cylinder heads, and a DaVinci-tuned Dominator carb. As Mark points out, the motor is far from optimized, as it’s missing some key pieces of hardware. “I built this motor with a bunch of spare parts I scrounged out of my garage. I actually planned on putting a ProCharger on it, which is why it only has 9.0:1 compression, so now it’s basically a blower motor without a blower,” he quips. “In the meantime, I’m putting 150–200hp of nitrous through it. That will hold me over for now, but I’m thinking about putting some turbos on it.”
The 493 has been matched with an all-Mopar driveline consisting of a homebuilt TorqueFlite 727 transmission and a Dana 60 rearend. As for the converter, Mark has no idea what’s in the car. “It’s just some 23-year-old converter I found in my garage. All I know is that it’s 10 inches,” he says. Not surprisingly, Mark has taken an equally relaxed approach with the suspension. It’s as stock as stock can be, right down to the factory torsion bars and leaf springs. According to Mark, the only chassis tuning he’s done is adjust the pinion angle and experiment with a box full of old, worn-out gas shocks. Whatever he did has worked, because the Coronet pulls respectable 1.52-second short times on miniscule 28.5x9x15 slicks.
The beauty of this machine is in its simplicity, and it does so much with so little that the fact that it just happens to be the slowest car out of field of 8-second monsters seems irrelevant. With a muted idle and unassuming demeanor, it’s the perfect tool for hustling the competition. “This car isn’t as fast as some of the other cars out there, but it’s a very streetable driver that you can take to the track and have some fun in,” Mark opines.