V10 VIPER-POWERED CHARGER TO CROSS THE NULLARBOR FOR SUMMERNATS 33

For the past four years, Lennard Vidot has been building this ’68 Dodge Charger, and it’s a much different animal to the wild methanol-fuelled Holden he built 10 years ago. “I got the Charger out of California. It was an old drag car and it had a half cage and gutted interior. It was a 440, four-speed, and I could have just tidied it up and put it all back together, but I wanted something that was reliable, stayed cool in traffic, behaved and did everything it should,” says Lennard.

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At this point, most people would be thinking along the lines of a late-model Hemi out of a Chrysler 300, or, if they were complete heathens, an LS conversion. In Lennard’s eyes, that just didn’t have the cool factor he was after, so he started looking at a Viper V10 engine. It’s a pretty popular conversion in the US, but that doesn’t mean it was easy:

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“There is nothing you can buy as a kit, so everything in the car is fabricated. The biggest problem was getting the computer unlocked because I didn’t want to run the BCM (Body Control Module) and I sat up night upon night on the phone to people in the US trying to find someone who could do it. By chance, I was watching a YouTube video of a guy that did the same conversion with a ’Cuda and at the end of the video he listed the shop that unlocked the ECU. I rang him up, told him what we were aiming for with the car, and after I finished talking, he said [with a southern drawl]: ‘You sound funny.’ I pissed myself laughing.”

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The other major hurdle Lennard faced was getting the car fully engineered and registered with the 505ci, 500hp motor and four-speed auto. Yes, we know Vipers only came out with a manual, but Lennard actually sourced the engine and ’box and everything else he needed for the conversion from a 2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10. The cost of all that, landed on his doorstep, was $15,000.

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With a fresh set of plates on the car, the next step is to get some miles on it and shake it down in preparation for the drive to Summernats. Oh, did I mention Lennard is from Perth? Keep an eye open for the Charger and a bright pink XA coupe with FAT ASS on the plates that will be cruising with him – they should be pretty easy to spot.

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Lennard tried to make it look like a factory installation, so there’s very little shiny stuff in there: “If I can’t clean it with Spray n’ Wipe, then I’m not interested!”

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It’s your basic black muscle car interior but Lennard did use the gauges out of the Dodge Ram to make sure everything reads correctly, although he fitted them into a custom instrument panel made from carbon fibre.

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The bright green metallic paint is something Lennard spotted on a Mazda 2. He didn’t want anything custom and difficult to match. There’s no doubt this car will cop some stone chips. If you’re thinking the tyres could maybe be a bit fatter, you’d be right, but this is what the authorities were happy with.

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Words // Boris Viskovic

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