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1973 Dodge Charger - The E85 Mule

A Story Of Alcohol Abuse, Centrifugal Superchargers, Big Horsepower, And Low-11-Second Times From A '73 Dodge Charger.

Photography by , Bob Woods

Terry Woods and his brother Bob are true believers in superchargers. So much so that back in the early '60s, Terry stuffed a Paxton-supercharged 312ci Y-block Ford in a '56 Merc and terrorized the streets with a blow-through Holley carburetor. Today he and brother Bob are big Mopar fans, but they've lost none of their enthusiasm for centrifugal supercharging. Terry's background is in engineering, so he's always known that while Roots blowers are big on visual impact, they suffer a little in the efficiency department. When big centrifugals began bulging the marketplace, the brothers were thrilled. But none of the blower companies wanted to build specific drive kits for Mopars. That's when The Supercharger Store was created in Huachuca City, Arizona, with the brothers building supercharger kits for Mopars, big-block Fords, and big-block Buicks.

Using supercharger-induced pressure to push air and fuel into the cylinders is an easy way to make more power. But blowers also heat the air they pressurize, which not only reduces the air density, but also makes the engine prone to detonation. That's why blower motors need high-octane fuel. The problem with race gas is that it's a quickly consumable commodity at $6 or more per gallon. So when E85 (85 percent ethanol/alcohol mixed with 15 percent gasoline) arrived in Arizona, the brothers saw the light of a golden opportunity. This E85 stuff offered an octane rating of 105 at roughly half the price of race gas, since in southeastern Arizona the cost of E85 was a mere $2.43 per gallon.

So now we need to introduce the car. Terry found this Charger back in 1997 and eventually stuffed a low-compression 440 in it with the eventual plan of bolting on a centrifugal supercharger. It soon became the company's test mule for various accessory-drive configurations for ATI superchargers. After E85 appeared in Arizona, it just made sense to try this new fuel in the car. So now, all three of these concepts-the car, the supercharger, and the right fuel-came together to create a potential that just could not be ignored. The brothers bolted in a giant 32-gallon ATL E85 fuel cell in the trunk, plumbed it with a high-capacity MagnaFuel fuel pump and -10 feed lines, and then worked with their friends at Performance Carburetors to use a modified 750 annular-discharge carburetor that would accommodate E85's greater volume demands.

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