Fast 9 mid-engined Dodge Charger and Hellcat ’68
You can only ask this question as part of a Fast and furious movie: How to overcome a Dodge Charger ’68 with a jet engine in the trunk? Easy: a Charger 68 with a Hellcat in the back seat. How does a Hellcat engine, even tuned to Demon specs like this, outperform a jet engine? Because it’s real.
That’s right, kids, the jet engine that comes out of the back of the “Ice Charger” in 2017 The fate of the furious was only an accessory. The car was powered by a Chevy LS3 V-8 pushed back under the dash to make way for an all-wheel drive system. Cool stuff, but the mid-engined Charger is the real deal.
At least two of them are.
“Now when I say we’ve built nine, they’re not all the same,” he explains. “There are two that were built with the mid-engine and transaxle design. The rest, the name of the company leaves me for the moment, but there is a company that makes a Hellcat engine out of plastic. [fake] plastic motor in place. And we actually used an LS3 with a Turbo 400 automatic gearbox with manual shifting and a 9 inch Ford rear for our stunt cars which we just use and abuse. But yes, a total of nine cars, two different platforms. I would say four and a half months, they all finished and went to different countries. “
Hero cars, the ones the actors drive close-up, have real Hellcats and actually run. Mopar supplied the standard 707hp box engines, and McCarthy had them brought to Demon specs with a pulley and 110-octane racing gasoline tuning from Performance Tech, the store that tunes all Quickly movie cars. The engines now over 800 horsepower were mated to Lamborghini Gallardos’ Graziano lifted six-speed manual transaxles.
“I think the clutch pedal is a key ingredient in the cool factor,” says McCarthy. “In my opinion, it must be like that. An automatic just wouldn’t have the same impact.”
Magnaflow’s Rich Waitas built a fully custom exhaust with custom manifolds that run up and above the transaxle and discharge from the end caps hidden behind the rear bumper. With no engine up front and no room for the original gas tank under the trunk, Vehicle Effects mounted an 8 gallon fuel cell under the hood. The classic chrome fuel cap on the passenger’s front fender works on mid-engined cars, making trips to the gas station more like refueling a Porsche than a Dodge.
Under the hood is also a high-angle rack-and-pinion power steering setup to allow for large drifts. That and the transaxle required custom fully independent suspension at all four corners, and that gives the front-engined stunt cars one eye-opener: the pumpkin of the live rear axle hanging down. That is, if you can get down low enough to see it.
“I am always in the lowest possible position [for the cars]McCarthy said. “Maybe I went a little too far on that one. It’s definitely the lowest charger we’ve ever made, which is great. It looks great. But sometimes you run into this high center issue when entering and exiting the driveway with such a long wheelbase car. But for a movie car, it’s great; for a daily driver, you would probably want to increase it a few inches. “
All of these parts are mounted on a custom chassis built by Wisconsin-based SpeedKore Performance, who also created the wide carbon fiber body to go over the top. The Charger Daytona’s roofline and rear window were chosen to both clear the Hellcat engine and to show it off. The body and chassis have been modified to lengthen the wheelbase by almost 6 inches by moving the front axle forward, mainly because McCarthy doesn’t like the large front overhang of early Chargers. Deep HRE wheels fill the thick fenders and hide modern Brembo disc brakes.
“It’s without a doubt the fastest Charger we’ve built,” says McCarthy. “There have been a lot of chargers that seem to have 1,000 horsepower; this one is actually probably the most powerful. Fast and furious Charger never built. “
Replacing the backseat with a supercharged V-8 requires a lot of interior modifications. A metal and plexiglass divider helps reduce some of the heat and noise entering the cabin, which is sparse but functional. McCarthy took inspiration from the design of the Ford GT40, going so far as to incorporate brass rings into the seat covers. The bucket seats are adjustable, with tools, and have no headrests for a period feel. Between them, of course, a NOS bottle for the inevitable scene where even more acceleration is needed to save the day. A flat dashboard with simple analog gauges and rocker switches, along with a three-spoke steel steering wheel, completes the old-school look.
“The tricky thing is always trying to come up with something new,” McCarthy admits, “because there are only a limited number of ways to build a Charger, and we’ve done most of it. And on top of that, not only did we build a lot of chargers in different styles, but we used the Nelson Racing Engines Charger, this unpainted charger, we borrowed other chargers from SpeedKore, so there is a long list of chargers that have been featured in the franchise over the years.
“Like I said, he’s always trying to come up with something new. When I was at SEMA the guys at SpeedKore would show me what they were working on, which looked pretty badass. , I don’t know who owns this car so I can’t give it credit for it, but there was a Mustang – I mean it might have been a 71ish Mustang – that had a mid-engined setup , which was very impressive. I don’t want to take credit for other people’s ideas, but I have a lot of ideas at SEMA. One thing led to another, and I just decided that it ‘was something we hadn’t done yet. Let’s move the engine to a new location. “
The job is surprisingly clean considering that McCarthy and a team of seven only had four and a half months to build all nine cars from scratch. And really, it was Jonny Miller and Brian Gogerty who did most of the work on the mid-engined cars while the rest of the team built the stunt cars or went back and forth between builds.
“As always, our biggest challenge is just trying to get it done on time,” McCarthy said. “The guys work on the car sometimes 14, 15 hours a day and try to stay sane for weeks and weeks and weeks. But they have a lot of training. And obviously those were extremely hard-working cars. You talk to a guy, like at SEMA, who built a car, he says to you, “Oh, we worked on it for three or four years.” We’ll build 180 cars in five months. a whole different style of building cars, but the good thing is you don’t have to get every door gap exactly perfect. So there are some advantages. But they have to perform well and be reliable. . And they were very reliable; they had no problems during the shoot. They fired every time. “
This is an important consideration when a custom featured car can make or break a filming schedule. At one point, the two mid-engined cars were in Glasgow, Scotland, and Tbilisi, Georgia simultaneously to shoot different scenes. These are places where you don’t just buy Dodge parts at the local store.
Despite all the movement and fire, the heroes’ cars returned to near perfect condition.
“I was adamant with the guys,” McCarthy says. “Don’t kill the mid-engined car. They both came back unharmed. No damage, nothing. It was great. And that’s not normal. Usually even cars that I don’t want to damage end up being damaged one way or the other. “
This is good for a number of reasons, not least because cars still have a long way to go. They will separate again and ship worldwide on a promotional tour for Fast 9, then at least one will likely be on display in one of the Universal Studios theme parks. Before they leave, however, McCarthy hopes to get them out on a track and dial them up correctly.
“The only thing I regret is that we didn’t have a lot of track time,” he says. “Normally we’ll build these cars, and we’ll head to Willow Springs for the day and test them at their own pace. With this car, we were in such a rush to get them shipped. I think I made a stint in the road. street in front of my store, and everything went fine.In a shipping container it went, and that’s it.
“I hope,” he continues, “when we get a little closer to the film’s release time. [on June 25], we can take that car out and put it to the test and see what it does. I have a bad feeling that there’s going to be a bit of characteristic understeer, because it’s just a ton of power, real sticky tires, and we never even resized the car. I have to believe it’s a 62, 63, or 64 percent rear weight bias on the car. But hopefully with a little bit of track time we’ll tame it and see what the thing can really do. “