Chassis number: 6232191984
- All-original body panels sporting 80% original paint
- Body is laser-straight, and the finish is amazingly fl awless for a 48-year-old car
- Chrome and brightwork are fabulous
- Interior is all original and beautiful
- Driveline is modifi ed and now sports a 680-hp Hemi, runs on pump gas
- Dana 60 rear is frame-connected all the way to the front wheel struts with an eight-point roll cage
- Four-wheel Wilwood disc brakes, American Torque racing wheels with Hoosier radials
- Hoosier slicks and extra Torque Thrusts go with the car
- No disappointments, no stories
- Drive it to a show, take it out to dinner, or run 10.80s in the quarter mile
|1963 Dodge 440 Two-door Sedan
|34,300 (V8-powered 440s in 1963, all styles)
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|$400 est. (includes adjusting solid lifters and jetting carb)
|$34.99 (MSD Pro-Billet distributor)
|Chassis Number Location:
|Fender tag on driver’s side, under hood
|Engine Number Location:
|Left front corner of block, below cylinder head (318 V8 — N/A for Indy Maxx Hemi)
|Winged Warriors — National B-Body Owners Association, 7 Live Oak Lane, Palm Coast, FL, 32137
|1962 Chevrolet Bel Air 409, 1963 Ford Galaxie 427, 1963 Plymouth Savoy Max Wedge
This 1963 Dodge 440 2-dr sedan, Lot S274, sold for $37,100, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction in Kissimmee, FL, on January 28, 2012.
This profile is a first for ACC. Why? Because we bought the car. ACC had been looking for a new addition to our garage — something that had both great visual appeal and lots of power. And, boy, did we find what we were looking for in this Dodge. It isn’t the prettiest design Mopar ever came up with, but who cares when it has mostly original cosmetics and can run 10s in the quarter mile?
The birth of the factory 426
In some ways, 1963 was the start of an era for Dodge. At that time, their cars had already been racing in Super Stock events across the country for a number of years. But the 1963 NHRA rulebook allowed for a specifi c overbore in factory engines — 0.030 inches instead of the 0.060 allowed in 1962, as long as the bore didn’t exceed 427 cubic inches — and Chrysler wasted no time modifying the popular 413 Wedge engine to fit the new rules.
With that rule change, the 426 Max Wedge was born into Super Stock racing — a displacement that carried over into the Hemi engine of 1964 and became legendary both in drag racing and stock car racing through the 1960s and 1970s. Those Max Wedge and Hemi engines became notorious in the Dodge 330s and 440s of the early Super Stock era — namely this homely looking design. So, this car model has a long history of going fast.
Grandma’s grocery getter
This particular Dodge wasn’t one of those highprofi le racers. It lived with a little old couple in Canada until a few years ago, when Gary Spencer, the seller at Kissimmee, bought it with 45k original miles on the clock. The couple was planning on giving the car to their grandson as school transportation, but he apparently wasn’t interested. It was a 318-ci V8 car with a push-button automatic, and according to Spencer, it was in great original condition throughout, with only a few dents and dings from a long life as a light-duty driver.
If you’re a Mopar guy of a certain age — and you want to go racing — this is exactly the type of car you’d want to score. The factorybacked Ramchargers used 330s in 1963, which look nearly identical to our car, aside from a few pieces of trim. And this one needed very little aside from race modifications.
Once the car became Spencer’s, it went straight to ARC Race Cars in New Oxford, PA, where it was blown apart.
Make it legal
The shop was tasked with making the car SFI nine-second legal. Their work included building a roll cage, tying the unibody together with a solid subframe, installing a Super Stock rear-spring conversion, and more. Out back, 13-inch tires were made to fi t inside the wheeltubs, and a Strange Dana 60 was built with severe-duty axles, 4.10 gears and a racing spool. The cage was wrapped in vinyl to match the original interior components, including the removable door bars, and a proper green driver’s harness and window net were also installed.
Bring the power
This car’s original look is what turned our heads at fi rst, but what’s under the hood is what really got everyone at ACC interested. It’s an all-aluminum 500-ci Indy Maxx block fitted with Indy heads, 10.5:1 Arias pistons, solid roller cam, balanced steel crank and rods, MSD ignition, a Demon 850 carburetor, and custom-made two-inch tube headers that reportedly cost $4k alone — they feature equal-length runners that snake around the front end’s torsion bars.
The Hemi is joined to a special, race-prepped 727 TorqueFlite transmission with a reverse-pattern manual valve body, a 3,800-rpm ATI stall converter and a special high-strength-steel driveshaft. The package makes a reported 680 horsepower, runs at 180 degrees, idles at 900 rpm, and as noted above, runs 10.80s in the quarter with fat jetting in the carburetor. I’m pretty sure the car’s just a jet change away from 10.70s or 10.60s. Not bad, considering it runs on 92 octane fuel.
So what’s it like to drive this beast? It’s loud. The muffl ers take the edge off, but it still sets off other people’s car alarms and irritates the lawyers who work above ACC World Headquarters in Portland, OR. It has more power than you’ll ever need in any gear, and the engine’s response is instant. It builds RPM and bleeds it off quickly, so it’s fun to snap the throttle open while cruising — there’s no lag between leaning on the pedal and feeling your neck snap back.
Everything works, including the wipers and heater, but the horn button has been wired to activate the line lock — using it is as simple as stabbing the brakes, holding the horn ring, and rolling into the throttle. Even at 13 inches wide, the rear tires simply give up, tearing themselves to pieces in clouds of white smoke. But both rear tires are locked together via that spool, so you’d better not be on the throttle in a corner, unless you want to end up in the ditch on the other side of the road.
The manual valvebody 727 needs to be shifted by hand, so you’re pushing buttons for each upshift and downshift. And you have to look around the massive tach and tall hood scoop to see. Overall, you’re busy, and you can’t hear people’s accolades unless they honk before waving. But that’s okay, because most people do.
Was it a deal?
If I had to guess, I’d say the seller probably had six fi gures in this car. Does that make it a deal at $37k? Yes and no. From a pure street racer’s perspective, it absolutely was, since the modifi cations were all very well done, the parts expensive, and the details impeccable. Race cars aren’t usually this nice.
But it’s a car that never was — a Hemi-powered ’63 with late-model performance goodies. So from a collector’s standpoint, this thing isn’t nearly as desirable as a factory-delivered 330 Ramcharger with a Max Wedge. But then again, those cars are typically well beyond $100k in the current market.
Did we do okay? I think so. The parts alone are likely worth most of what we paid, and there’s a huge cool factor to that Hemi and the original paint — even if it has a face only a Mopar nut can love.