Joe Russo’s dad, Tony, tried to get him to build a late model Camaro or Mustang, just because it would be that much easier. Joe didn’t want to take the easy way out though, he had his mind set on a Mopar A-body. They picked up this low rust 76 Duster from California, and got to work. Over a year later, their hard work and late nights paid off. Joe now has a bad ass, pump gas small block car. The combo is pretty simple. They picked up complete 360 Magnum from a 98 Jeep, and made a couple of smart modifications. The stock beer barrel intake was replaced by an Edelbrock performer RPM and a 650 Holley Double pumper. While the intake was off, they decided to upgrade the camshaft. A custom cam that’s 226 @ .050 and a hair over .500 lift came from Scott Brown at Competition Components. Joe also needed to upgrade the springs, so the drop in high lift Magnum springs from Mopar Performance fit the bill. The stock hydraulic roller lifters and hold downs were cleaned and re-used. After the dressed up Magnum motor found it’s way between the framerails, a used set of headers found their way into the engine bay. Joe and Tony fabbed up an X pipe, and 3″ Hooker Aerochambers were used with turndowns at the axle. A new 10″ PTC Converter was slid into the rebuilt 904 transmission and bolted into place. An 8.8 ford 4.10 Rear end was picked up from an Explorer and modified to fit and a set of Cal Tracs and springs were bolted to it. All of the work on the car was performed by Joe and Tony, including all of the body work and paint. All of their hard work paid off right off the trailer, the Viper red Duster ran in the 12.40′s on the very first pass. With some tuning and TLC, the car has now run a best of 12.14 @ 111 mph. The first pass on nitrous has run a 7.24 in the 1/8th (mid 11.30′s in the 1/4), with some more suspension tuning needed to handle the additional power. Not bad for a teenager’s first car!
UPDATE 11/27/2011: Joe went a new personal best of 11.202 @ 119 on Nitrous over the holiday weekend. Congrats Joe!
Rundown of the basic Combo:
- 360 Magnum
- 226 @ .050 Hydraulic roller cam, .500 lift
- untouched Magnum heads with new springs
- Edelbrock intake
- Holley 650 DP carb
- Headers & 3″ exhaust
- 904 with 10″ PTC Converter
- 4.10 gears