Yes, you read the headline correctly—Howard Mintz got rid of his Corvette for this Dodge Challenger, and he has no regrets about it. To be sure, some Corvettes were better than others, but the one he sold was a ’98 coupe, certainly no slouch in the performance department. Howard says that though he loved his ’Vette, the Challenger is better in every way.
Is he crazy? No, he seemed to be in possession of all his faculties during the photo shoot. He must be a brand-loyal Mopar guy, then, right? Wrong again; Howard has owned mostly GM cars prior to this Challenger. So what motivated him to dump GM’s Plastic Fantastic sports car for this iteration of Chrysler’s LC Platform? Like so many of life’s decisions, Howard was motivated by emotion. “I was on a business trip in Miami when I saw a Challenger on a dealer’s lot. I was hooked.” He mentioned something about style and stance; we can all relate to the sensation of falling in love with someone or something.
After finding a car equipped the way he wanted it at a dealership in Georgia, and, upon taking delivery, he immediately drove it to the Mopar Performance speed center next door, for some suspension and exhaust upgrades. Not too long after, he dove headfirst into the drivetrain, sending the engine to Bischoff Racing Engines for a bump in displacement, turning the stock 6.1L engine into 7.0L, or the mythical 426 ci, as we Yankees measure it. BES went through the rest of the engine as well: porting the heads, and strengthening the bottom end to prepare for a power adder. Howard initially installed a centrifugal supercharger, but scrapped it for the low end grunt of a twin screw Kenne Bell supercharger installed by Adam Montague, owner of ST Motorsports in San Bernardino, CA. Along with the Kenne Bell unit, Adam did a bunch more work to the car: custom plumbing, double-adjustable coilover shocks, and even swapped the stock differential for a Ford 8.8 center section within the car’s stock independent rear suspension. “The 8.8 is stronger and more ring and pinion ratios are available,” Adam explained. Since the photo shoot, Howard installed a 6-point rollcage and is working with Motiva Performance Engineering in Albuquerque, NM, on developing a cog-drive belt for the supercharger, which will be more reliable than the ribbed belt he’s currently running.
In the meantime, Howard drives the car all the time. “It makes 736 hp at the wheels on nine pounds of boost, and I can drive it every day. I’ve driven it across the country once already,” he said, adding, “I love it. I won’t sell this car.”
What: ’10 Dodge Challenger
Where: Taos, New Mexico. “The view is beautiful,” Howard says.
Engine: Adding a K1 stroker crank to a 6.1L Hemi gives you 426 ci of fun. Bischoff Racing Engines did just that and threw in a set of 9.5:1 Diamond pistons, forged connecting rods, upgraded fasteners, performance gaskets, and ported the stock cylinder heads. The plan all along was to add a supercharger, and Howard started with a centrifugal unit, but quickly realized a twin screw blower was a better fit for his heavy car. He called on Adam Montague of ST Motorsports in San Bernardino, CA, to do that job, and drove the car there from his home in New Mexico. Adam switched the car from the centrifugal set-up to Kenne Bell’s 3.6L liquid-cooled supercharger in time for Howard to drive the car home five days later. This wasn’t an easy job. He had to do a lot of custom plumbing to make it fit, he made the aluminum reservoir for the air-to-water charge cooler, and a custom-plumbed crankcase ventilation system with an oil separator. The supercharger pulley bracket system is Adam’s design as well. To meet the fuel demands, he installed 80 lb/hr fuel injectors in Fore Precision Works billet fuel rails, and tuned the engine on his Dynojet chassis dyno, netting an impressive 736 hp at the wheels on a relatively conservative tune-up.
Exhaust: The car sounds great thanks to a pair of Kook’s long-tube headers and a Corsa exhaust system.
Transmission: The car’s stock TR-6060 six-speed is plenty strong to deal with the added power, but the clutch needed some help. Howard had a SPEC dual-disc clutch installed that, he says, feels better than the factory clutch but still holds all the power the Hemi can dish out.
Driveshaft and Rearend: Wanting a bulletproof drivetrain, Howard ditched the stock driveshaft and differential housing for much stronger parts from The Driveshaft Shop. We especially like their adapter plate that allows the installation of a Ford 8.8-inch centersection in place of the stock diff housing. The 8.8 is a strong, proven unit, and the ring and pinion ratio of your choosing is just a phone call to your local Ford dealership away. Adam installed these parts along with The Driveshaft Shop’s chromoly axles for 8.8 swaps that will support 1,400 hp.
Suspension: Howard wasn’t fooling around when it came to choosing suspension parts. He’s got Eibach’s Multi-Pro R2 street coilover kit front and rear. This is Eibach’s top-shelf stuff for the Challenger, and offer up to a 2.5 drop in ride height, your choice of spring rates, and remote reservoir, double adjustable shocks. For ultra convenience, the adjuster knobs are located on the reservoirs, so you don’t have to squeeze under the car to change the shock settings.
Wheels/Tires: The CCW wheels were custom-made to fit as big a set of tires in the Challenger’s wheel wells as possible without mini-tubbing the car. A set of 275/35ZR20 Nitto NT05 tires are mounted up front, and a set of 305/35R20 Nitto Extreme Drag radials are out back.