Everything about this car hit us like a sunbeam to the eye or a lightning strike on a jet-black night. It was crawling through the fairgrounds at the Car Craft Summer Nationals, vibrating the ground like a bowling-ball hailstorm. It had the unmistakable thunder of a big Hemi stroker on a loose converter twisting the bolognas on the inside of each corner. The rollcage had a thick shell like polished candy, the color on the mags was a mix of cold lead and circus glitter, and as we approached, the noise became a sensation. We were looking for a car to name Best of Show, and Robert Warden had just finished building it.
Being a Mopar guy, Robert always wanted a Hemi, and he wanted it to be in the right kind of car. Like a Mopar Super Stock 330. “I wanted the car to be personal and my own, so I decided to build a Super Stock clone—that way, I wouldn't be destroying an original car,” Robert says. “In 2004, a good buddy informed me that he had a car he intended to build into a Hemi clone but ended up with a '63 Max Wedge car instead. So the rust-free '64 330 ended up in my hands.”
Robert's original plan was to build a race car he could drive on the street, but when the economy collapsed in 2008, he decided to use it as a street machine instead. “When the economy recovers, I am going to drag race it,” he says.
In high school, Robert was inspired by an auto-shop instructor who was a Buick guy with a couple of GSXs when everyone else in the world was driving Chevys. It was the underdog reputation of BOP and Mopar that first got Robert into Chryslers. “There were only two guys in the entire school that had Mopars, and we would try to outrun everyone else,” Robert says. “[Since then] I always wanted a red '64 with a Hemi, and I finally got my wish.”
Yes, it was in the paint shop for more than a year.
When Robert got the car, it was a rolling shell rescued from the Nevada desert. Even though it looked perfect, Robert had it media-blasted to bare metal and was happy to find it hadn't been hit and had very little filler. The body was then sent to a frame shop to check for straightness before it was ready to go. For the next eight years, Robert slowly gathered parts and information to build an accurate Super Stock clone. Because this was to be raced in the NHRA, Robert added a firewall between the passenger compartment and the trunk to make it legal with a relocated battery. He also made some subtle changes to the body. The hoodscoop came from a guy named Scott Harms, who was building them out of aluminum in Peru . Since they were custom parts anyway, Robert ordered his 1-inch taller than the stock Super Stock scoop. A year later, a perfect reproduction made from hand-beaten aluminum arrived in a crate. The hoodscoop is one of the two made before that deal dried up. The aluminum front bumper was also handmade by out of “five or six” different pieces and welded together by Phil Rasmussen. Phil also made the original-looking bumper brackets and reworked the passenger-side shock tower to allow the Hemi head to be pulled with the engine in the car. Again, like the factory. If you look closely, you can see that the reverse lights were deleted, there is no outside driver mirror, no antenna hole, one windshield wiper, and two headlights instead of four, all to mimic the Super Stock 330. To make this car personal, Robert built a huge Hemi stroker that has no original or reproduction parts. “The thermostat housing is correct, but that is about it,” Robert says. Then he added the Auto Meters, shifter, and 'cage to make the car both easy to drag race and NHRA-legal in 2013. For eight years, Robert chipped away, sometimes putting it away when he couldn't work on it and otherwise assembling it one piece at a time, all to get his dream car perfect.
Who: Robert J. Warden
What: 1964 Dodge 330
Where: Blaine, MN
Engine: The Elephant is a stroked 426 that started as one of the first World Products Hemi blocks (No. 003) punched to 4.310 inches .The rotator is from K1 with a 4.150-inch stroke crank, H-beam rods, and a set of Diamond forged pistons for 484 ci. The aluminum heads are from Stage V and were five-axis ported by Travis Knowlton at Thunderheads in Bethel, MN. The A&A reproduction cross-ram has a pair of reproduction Holley 770-cfm carburetors. Using an MSD Pro Billet distributor, 6AL box, and a Comp Cams solid roller with 0.672 lift and 274/278 degrees of duration at 0.050, the engine—assembled by Bruce Crandall at Total Engine in Bloomington, MN—made 705 hp at 6,400 and 610 lb-ft at 5,700 rpm.
Transmission: The trans is a reverse-manual 727 TorqueFlite from Darrin Rumble with a 3,500-rpm Dynamic converter and Cheetah SCS shifter.
Rearend: The pumpkin is a DTS Dana 60 with a 4.56:1 gear and a Detroit Locker with 35-spline Strange axles and chromoly 1350 U-joints.
Wheels: The front wheels are unknown vintage 15x4-inch magnesium five-spokes. The center was painted with Eastwood Aluma Blast out of a can, and the hoops were milled slightly, then left in their natural state. The result is a fantastic look we couldn't catch in the photos. Originally, Robert wanted to run a '50s-style Plymouth rim in the rear, because that is what they used on the dragstrip in the '60s. Because of the size of the rear discs, Robert used 15x8 Wheel Vintiques 69 Series Chrysler Police Wheels instead. He powdercoated them satin-black to complete the look. The front tires are Moroso Drag Special 7.10x15s, and the rears are 295/65R15 Mickey Thompson Drag Radials.
Exhaust: Under the hood are 21⁄8–21⁄4 stepped headers from TTI with a 3.5-inch flange. The exhaust is TIG-welded and hand-fabbed from 3.5-inch pipe through a set of Flowmasters reworked to accept the larger tubes.
Suspension: In the rear, the car uses Mopar Super Stock springs moved inboard 3 inches with a pinion snubber and QA1 single-adjustable shocks. The front suspension is stock with QA1 shocks.
Brakes: The front brakes are Aerospace 10.25-inch discs with four-piston calipers. The rears are 11.375-inch discs with four-piston calipers, also from Aerospace Components.
Paint and Body: The car was stripped down and sent to the frame shop to ensure everything was straight. Then the car went to a media blaster, where Robert was pleased to find no rust and only a bit of filler. The eight-point chromoly 'cage was built and certified to 8.50s, then the car went to the body shop for prep and paint. The '06 Chrysler Viper Red was applied by Bob Zupan and RZ Auto Works in Maplewood, MN.
Interior: Gary Ball from Indiana supplied the interior components, and they were installed by Robert after the car was painted. Aside from the Auto Meter gauges and shifter, the interior of the car was restored to resemble a factory 330 Super Stock race car.
Trunk: The Super Stock Mopar battery came from Antique Auto Battery, and the trunk was painted to exactly match the original SS cars.
Thanks to: Dennis Klaff.