If you're reading this, then you may be one of those purists out there who will look at this conversion and think: "Why?" and I can definitely understand that. She was a 100% #'s matching, show condition vehicle prior to this conversion, so why would anyone do this to a vehicle like that? I have and will always, build my cars for me. I have never cared about resale value or what others think. I build them for me to drive and enjoy. Having had her in stock form for over 8 years, it was time to make her MINE, not what the factory made her. I must admit, when I started to undo the first few bolts in the engine bay, I did think to myself; "such a shame doing this to such an immaculate engine bay" but I knew the outcome would be well worth it. The 440s 400 odd hp, heavy big block RB weight, "crammed" looking A/C engine bay and boring cam got to me. It was nice and fun while it lasted but not fast enough for me and it was time to spice her up!!
I have kept everything in storage and would NEVER sell the #'s 440 (or trans). Not for me or for anyone else, but for LUCY's sake; that's her soul. I've seen it before where one of the previous owners of a #'s matching car sells the #'s matching block for bugger all, not knowing what he's doing to the poor car. I sure as hell don't want to be "that guy" hahaha! The car will be able to be returned back to stock IF wanted but lets be real here, that will NEVER happen!! Going from the nearly 700hp Hemi to the stock 440ci would be like going from a V10 to a 4 cylinder. This conversion <u>finally</u> gave her the Vanishing Point style grunt her exterior image has always had. Looks AND power = win, win!!
After driving The Batram around, jumping into Lucy and opening up that 440 just didn't do it for me anymore. While fun to drive her like that, it was missing that power on tap that The Batram gave me. Every time I drive The Batram, it's like the first time driving it, heck, I get a kick just pressing that starter button in the V10 beast!! I always have a MASSIVE grin while driving the Batram and upon parking it in the garage. That's what I wanted from Lucy, again.
To be fair to any 440 owners, they can produce HEAPS of power and will haul ass, no doubt about it, just mine was built to be stock with a very mild and lazy cam. For most normal people, 400hp is ample but I'm not most people hahahaha. I did contemplate building the 440 up to around 550hp but I didn't want to risk damaging the #'s block plus it'd still be heavy up front. With the 660hp+ Hemi just sitting there, it made perfect sense. This build was based on how I would build my own Vanishing Point vehicle. My own interpretation of a true getaway, highway stomping, blacktop terrorising, machine! Stock looking exterior but hidden power, suspension and other goodies. I have always loved stock appearing Classic MoPars, you can't beat them! Big chrome wheels, two tone paint jobs, fibreglass interior, overkill chrome use, custom this and custom that, like ALL fads, these come and go but factory appearing will ALWAYS be timeless, no matter what year it is.
With 2 'Cuda projects falling through, the 540 Hemi had no home and had always sat in the garage in front of Lucy. Working on The Batram in the garage listening to some AC/DC, having a swig of a beer it hit me.....there was the Hemi, there was Lucy. The juices started flowing and it was almost like Lucy had spoken to me saying: "What else do you want me to do to get you to click!! Put the Hemi in me!!!" haha. So, I did some research and brainstorming to see what was required, what and how I would attack it and what kind of costs would be involved. It wasn't too bad. I had 80%+ of the items. The Hemi was complete and ready from sump to air cleaner, I had the tti headers, Dana 60, stiffening kit, XV 3-Link suspension etc so had all the expensive parts there, just needed to install them. I talked to my good friend Will, who has helped me and let me use his shop and tools and we got into it ASAP.
There wasn't a hell of a lot to purchase other than TTI exhaust, performance transmission build and labour, mainly for the body work. I removed most of the engine bay items, then went to my mate Will's shop where we continued to strip and remove the engine. Next it was off to the body & chassis shop to install the 3-link suspension, front inner fender support bars, subframe connectors and weld up all the holes in the engine bay. After this was done, it was back to Will's shop where the 540 Hemi was trial fitted. Once happy, it was off to the paint shop to spray the engine bay bright white again and then finally trucked back to the shop. This time it was final assembly. Tilt steering column in, wiring behind the fenders, hydrobrake booster installed, Hemi and transmission in, etc etc. Such a fun time. Wiring was next, loom, tidy interior wiring, alarm work and EFI FAST install with laptop testing. Overall the entire conversion took around 6 weeks which is super quick and a great effort considering everything was done at the highest standards. Done once, done right.
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