Grit. Use. We'll take these things over fluff and shine like beer over Bordeaux. So when we got a whiff of John Baskerville's '63 Dodge, we had to take a look. The payoff was a used race car from the '70s that was back on the street.
John picked it up nine years ago after it had been raced in Georgia then traded within the ranks of Southern gear-heads. The car had a good body, but racing had changed it in interesting ways. "The guys broke it on Sunday and welded it back together for the next weekend," John says. "The motor mounts were offset to the passenger side and welded to the K-member, and some of the wiring in the car was unique with splices wrapped with black electrical tape. You know, racer stuff. We're still chasing those problems." In addition to wiring and welding, the car still had its racing engine, a 440 from a '68 Plymouth. It had also been blessed with a 'cage, 4.56:1 gears, and other drag-style equipment.
John's mission was to keep it in original race car condition.
John is still a little unsure about the car's racing history. When the paint was stripped for a respray, he looked for signs of lettering or decals and found none, likely indicating a life of street racing and bracket drags. The interior was never restored.
In the original deal, the Dodge was lauded as a 12-second machine. It ran 13.30s. John added a stroked crankshaft and a larger cam and ported the heads to get the car to run 12.90s.
John was happy for a while running in the Nostalgia Super Stock class right up until he decided to stimulate the economy by spending a little on a new engine. With more cam and compression, it went 11.35 at 118. Now it's fast enough at the track and fun enough on the street to drive the 100-mile round trip to the Car Craft Summer Nationals and keep that race car vibe.
Who: John Baskerville
What: '63 Dodge 440
Where: Wyoming, MN
Engine: The engine is an iron 440-based block with a 4.350 bore and a 4.250-inch K1 crank for 505 inches. The Edelbrock STR-14 cross-ram with AFBs was eBay-plucked from a Mopar racer in the East so John could go racing in Nostalgia Super Stock. They bumped the compression to 13.5:1 using a set of Diamond pistons. The new cam is a Lunati roller with about 0.700 lift and "about 318 degrees of duration." The heads are ported 906 castings with 2.18/1.81 valves and Harland Sharp rockers.
Trans: The transmission is a 727 from a '68 Plymouth. This is a foot brake car-no transbrake- just a 10-inch converter and a Grinder manual valvebody. The engine is set back 2 inches, using a fabricated crossmember.
Rearend: The 83/4 has a stock B-body housing on relocated springs. It has Richmond 4.56:1 gears and a spool in place of the blown-up Sure Grip. It has 35-spline axles, and according to John's buddy Steve Pennebaker of Steve's Collision who did the mechanical work, it works fine on the street.
Wheels/Tires: There's no fender lip rolling, just mini-tubs and spring relocation for the 15x14 Weld Draglites and M/T Sportsman 31x16.5-15 rears. The front wheels are 15x5-inch Draglites with 28x7.5-15 M/T Sportsman Pros.
Exhaust: The pipes are 3-inchers out to the 3-inch Flowmasters.
Suspension: In the rear is the factory spring pack minus a few leaves. The front has three-way-adjustable shocks from QA1.
Interior: Original. The fuel gauge and shifter were put there by the original racers. John added the red floor mats via Kmart.
Brakes: The factory drums are in the back, and the '68-and-later B-body discs were purchased on eBay.
Paint and Body: The paint is Toyota three-stage white pearl applied after "lots of straightening." The stripes are Toyota burgundy. The hood is steel, but the scoops are 'glass. The car weighs 3,800 pounds.
Thanks: Steve's Collision in Blane, Minnesota, and Jody at RP Performance.