A Look at the Dodge Hellcat Crate Engine

There are blokes that like simple things. Press a button on a remote, the television springs into life. There, nothing to it.

When it comes to cars, surprisingly enough there is the same thing when it comes to engines. Yes, second hand ones, complete with stinky oil and worn out spark plugs can be bought, but to do it properly, a “crate engine” is the go. What is in a crate is substantial but there will be some extras to buy.

American muscle cars have a great crate history and Dodge keeps that tradition going with the availability of the Hellcat crate engine. There are two available and there are some seriously big numbers involved.

There is the “standard” engine and it’s good for 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. In Aussie speak that’s a hefty 521kW and 881Nm.  They come from a 6.2L or 371ci capacity V8 and it’s almost ready to go straight out of the box.

The block and heads have some deep breathing capabilities; bore is a huge 103.9mm, and the stroke a long 90mm. In order to feed those huge cylinders, intake valves of 54.3mm are fitted, and to breathe out there are 42mm exhaust valves. And with a compression ratio of 9.5:1, premium pump fuel is highly recommended.

By buying a crate engine, nearly everything is packaged and little else is required. This particular crate has the basic engine block, heads, standard water pump, and front sump oil pan. There is also the flywheel and clutch, intake manifold & throttle body, the coil pack ignition system, and fuel injectors.  As a package, it’s called the “Hellcrate”. Cost is around $15K in U.S. dollars. That’s around $21,600 AUD.

However, dig deeper into the pocket and there is the “Hellephant” crate engine.  At a monstrous 426ci or 7.0L in size, this takes out of the box power and torque to a whole new level. 1,000 horsepower or just under 748kW, 950 lb-ft, or a truly incredible 1288 torques are there for the asking. Dodge says this alloy blocked behemoth isn’t available to buy here in Australia. And then there’s some serious conversations with a bank manager if it was. Figure on around $43k AUD...

Much like the “Hellcrate”, a buyer will need to source their own ECU, wiring, throttle, sensors, and some other parts, but according to Dodge, there won’t be a need to buy a supercharger. That’s standard fitment. Custom forged pistons are part of the internals, as is a higher profile camshaft.

So if simplicity is a thing, and a desire to upgrade with not a lot of extra work needed, then a crate engine such as the “Hellcrate” or “Hellephant” is a good starting point if changing the earth’s rotation is required.

Have you bought a crate engine? Tell us what you bought and where it went in the comment section below this article on the Rare Spares Facebook Page! 

History of the Holden Torana

2019 marks the fortieth anniversary of the cancellation of an Aussie icon. Originally based on a small and boxy British design, the Holden Torana started as an edgy and squared off two door body shell. The HB Torana was released in 1967 and came powered by a 1.2L four cylinder, with a four speed manual attached. If you wanted a self shifter, a three speed auto was made available as an option.

The HB was very heavily based on the then Vauxhall Viva, with essentially minor cosmetic changes and differences visually. Underneath were drum brakes front and rear, and Holden offered disc brakes up front as an option.

1968 saw an engine boost, under the name of Series 70. Compression was modified, a different carbie was fitted, and power reached the heady heights of 51kW, or 69 horsepower as was measured then. The auto was deleted from the standard engine which produced a mere 42kW/56hp.

Another Aussie icon, Brabham, would be added to the Torana’s history early on. The Series 70 engine which featured a single Zenith-Stromberg carbie, was upgraded to a pair of them capped with sports air filters. Along with front disc brakes, standard with the HB’s Series 70 engine, the Brabham Torana had a low restriction exhaust, wider wheels, and some body styling. Peak power here was 59kW/79hp.

Holden and Vauxhall collaborated on developing a four door HB and September 1968 saw the release of the HB four door. This differed even further from the Viva, with the styling markedly changed from its British cousin. A new collapsible steering column was standard, a redesigned dash with instrument cluster and indicator stalk update, and a steering wheel pinched from the larger Kingswood/Monaro.

A complete redesign was given for the LC, with early versions featuring a close resemblance to the HB but from the A pillar back was completely new. Engines were upgraded to offer a six cylinder for the first time. The 2.6L or 161ci would morph into the 173ci and finishing with the legendary 186ci.

The body was modified from the HB to allow for the bigger straight six, transmissions were a three speed manual or auto, or a four speed manual. The Brabham model was discontinued here. Seats went to bucket seats as standard across the LC range and the British dionated a more powerful 1.6L four, with 60kW/80hp on tap.

But perhaps the standout for the LC was the addition of the GTR. A two barrel Stromberg WW carbie on the 161ci was standard, as were front disc brakes. This would form the basis for yet another Australian automotive icon.

The Holden Torana GTR-XU1 used the 186ci engine, fitted with three Zenith-Stromberg CD-150 carburettors. The engine breathed out via cast-iron headers through a performance cylinder head and camshaft, and a four-speed manual gearbox was sourced from Opel. The car was developed by HDT and “The Silver Fox”, Harry Firth. Visually it appealed, with front guard flutes, a rear spoiler, wider wheels, and had a Monaro like dash with sports dials.

Holden revamped the LC into the LJ. This featured a redesigned grille and three boxes for the tail lights instead of the LC’s horizontal strip. Engines changed slightly, with a 1.3L unit added to complement the 1.2L and 1.6L. The 1.2L was available in the two door body only, the new 1.3L was available in both two and four doors. The 161ci and 173ci, or 2.2L and 2.8L engines, were carried over and Holden transplanted the 3.3L, or 202ci, into the LJ.

That engine would be the heart of the LJ GTR-XU1. With 200hp or 149kW, a M20 four speed manual, and a triple CD-175 Zenith-Stromberg carbie induction, the LJ would be part of history in 1972. The Hardie-Ferodo 500 was won by the up and coming Peter Geoffrey Brock, in a drive that would become the basis for the legend that would become “Peter Perfect”.

Unfortunately, a development of the XU-1, colloquially known as the XU-2, would not see the light of showroom days. Rumoured to pack a 224kW/300hp 308ci V8, the “Supercar Scare” would see Holden, Ford, and Chrysler, bench there hi-po vehicles.

In the early-mid 1970s the Torana would change again. A limited release TA model would be seen for just eleven months. And then, in March 1974, another body change. The LH and LX Toranas were bigger, boxier, four door sedans and would also see the design feature a hatchback.

The LH kicked off with a unique engine range. A buyer could choose from a 1.9L four, the 2.8L and 3.3L sixes, and the thumping 4.2L/253ci or 5.0L/308ci V8s. However, the 308ci was reserved for the SL/R 5000 sedan, which also offered the limited run L34 option. The 263 versions built had engines with stronger internals and higher compression ratings, and the wheel arches outside to fit in even wider wheels and tyres.

Come February 1976 and the updated LX was released. Headlights were back to round after the LH’s squarish style. Prototype hatchbacks from the LH body saw production in the LX, and performance was hobbled somewhat by the introduction of emissions reduction equipment. Power outputs were starting to be officially presented as kiloWatts, not horsepower. The four cylinder engine would see life under the name of the LX Sunbird, with the sixes and eights badged as Torana.

Holden’s then revolutionary RTS, or Radial Tuned Suspension, would also be marketed alongside the Sunbird and Torana. 1977 and a three letter/numerical option would become yet another part of the car’s legend. A9X. The engines were largely untouched but it was the handling and braking packages, and the addition of the huge bonnet mounted air scoop, that made the option a standout. The racing version in the hands of Brock and Jim Richards would win The Great Race at Bathurst in 1978 and 1979.

March 1978 saw the final update, with the UC Torana losing the V8, softening the appearance externally, and revamping the interior. The hatchback didn’t last either, deleted a year after release. The UC revamp also had the Sunbird updated to fit the UC spec. However, Holden saw the VB Commodore in competition with the Torana and the nameplate was retired in late 1980.

Which Torana was your favourite and why? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article! 

A Look Back at the Cars of 1989

The final year of the 1980s closes out a decade of varying hair styles, musical tastes, the Indiana Jones and Star Wars sagas (before they got truly silly) and an innovative decade of car engineering and design.

Holden’s VN Commodore was reaching the end of its design life, and still packed a 5044cc V8. The SS was a hot looker thanks to well integrated body mods, and was the last Commodore without an independent rear. The VN of 1989 featured an upgraded 3.8L V6 which was quieter and more reliable, and would also be the basis for the Toyota Lexcen.

Ford had revived one of the brand’s most popular nameplates with its own, inhouse designed, Capri. A slim looking two door, available with a hard or soft top, the Capri didn’t set the automotive market alight and was available for just five years. The later models had a stylish “jeweled” look to the tail lights, and featured pop up head lights. Unfortunately, the entry level model was hobbled by a three speed auto.

Mitsubishi was moving the Magna along quite nicely with a design based on the American Galant. Essentially a “cut and shut” build, with some minor design changes but widened to suit the Australian lifestyle, the TN Magna came with two, four cylinder engines for power only. One sucked fuel via a carbie, the other pushed fuel in via fuel injection. Neither could be said to be “powerful” with the EFI version shunting out just 93kW from the 2.6L capacity engine.

Toyota’s Camry of 1989 was a complete revamp of the original hatchback version that was imported from Japan. An effectively expanded version of the Corolla of the day, it had been in production in that shape for just two years, after Toyota Australia switched local manufacturing away from the venerable Corona nameplate. Originally available with a front driven chassis powered by a four cylinder, a V6 option came along soon after.

Mercedes-Benz was starring with the C-Class in 1989. The 190 design was in overhaul mode, with 1989 seeing prototypes for what would be the 1993 release of the C-Class model range. The design was a freshen up of the 190 sedan, with a sleeker profile and more aerodynamically suited for the autobahns.

BMW was in a good mood too, with the E34 5 Series selling well against its main competitor of the day. In 1989 the design was still fresh, having been released just two years before. 1989 saw the release of the 520i, featuring an updated straight six that produced 110kW. The M5 was also virtually brand new too, with that year’s model packing a 232kW straight six.

What kind of car did you have in 1989? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below this article! 

Rare Spares sponsors the "Welcome Strangers” team in the Autumn Shitbox Rally, 8th – 17th May 2019

Rare Spares are proud to announce that they are sponsoring Aaron Barnes’, a long time Rare Spares customer, team the “Welcome Strangers” in the Autumn Shitbox Rally, Perth to Sydney via Uluru – May 8th – 17th.

The Shitbox Rally challenges teams to drive cars worth less than $1,000 across some of Australia’s most formidable roads, all in the name of charity. Aaron and the ‘Welcome Strangers’ will be tackling these formidable roads in a VS Commodore Ute.

Aaron Barnes provided us with an update on the build and everything that needed to be completed to get a RWC (road worthy certificate) for the upcoming rally.

“It’s been one hell of an undertaking to get this ute going. So far we have completed the following to get it RWC and ready for the long journey ahead -

  • New Tie Rods Ends
  • New Castor Bushes
  • New Front struts
  • New front rotors and brake pads
  • New rear rotors and brake pads
  • New rear shockers
  • New engine mounts
  • New Radiator
  • New water pipes
  • New LHS Rear tail light
  • New side indicator lens
  • New Tyre
  • New Spark Plugs and Leads
  • New Pinion bearing in the axle
  • Replaced Rocker cover gaskets
  • Replaced inlet Manifold Gaskets
  • New Oil Temp Sensor
  • New Air Filter
  • New Cat back Exhaust
  • New headlight globe
  • New RHS Bumperette
  • New rear reflectors
  • New Oil Filter New oil
  • New Coolant
  • New Fuel Filter
  • Added a Nudge Bar
  • Added a Tonneau Cover

 

Still to go are the flood lights on Nudge Bar and the Custom Roll bar to hold spare wheels and Jerry Cans.”

“I am sure there may be a couple of small things I have missed as well, but that is the majority of what has been done and is still to go. I completed all these myself with the guidance of a local retired mechanic called Neil Boyle. I call him "The Mechanical Yoda" as he knows everything and has saved 1000's in getting it done by a workshop.” 

“We had completed all the issues pointed out by the RWC report and completed them only to have it drop a cylinder, overheat and have coolant pissing out as we arrived to get it finalised. We managed to get a pass and came back to find the inlet manifold was stuffed and needed to be replaced. 7 Hours later we had it fixed and started it up and it purrs like a kitten now, the ECU has levelled out the missing cylinder and it's all going well.” 

“The day arrives to go to ViCROADS on Monday and we are driving along thinking we are home and hosed and all of a sudden the revs jump up to 4000 and we slow down. The transmission has just dropped 4th gear and is stuck in 3rd... I could not believe it, after all the work we had done it's just been one thing after the other with this ute. So we arrive at Vicroads having Transmission fluid pissing out on the inspection bay mixed with coolant and I am thinking "this is not good."

“Luckily the VICROADS guy was a top bloke and once he knew we were on the Rally he was happy to give the car a quick sighting and hand over the plates. So we are officially Road Worthy but have a potential time bomb transmission on our hands...”

“So hopefully everything is fixed now, if not, we may not make it across the Nullabor to start the Rally.” 

“We have raised $5,500 so far so we made our target of 5k and we are officially in the rally and the pressure is on to get this machine rally ready.”

Check out Aaron’s youtube channel “Barnesy’s Builds for further updates on the build - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN816jozxyemfTzXYNIM68g 

 

Rare Spares’ Automotive Movie Guide – 5 of our Favourites!

There are some topics in life which are more divisive than pineapple on pizzas. Star Wars versus Star Trek, Holden versus Ford, Connery versus Moore. Best car films in any discussion fall into the divisive category. 

What makes for a good car film, though? Is it the car or cars? The story line? The set pieces? Trying to pin down a definitive list is impossible, so we thought we’d shop around and get an idea of what people thought. One film that was a clear favourite is a homegrown production.

Starring a young up and coming actor named Mel Gibson, it’s a movie that brings in just about everything a good car film needs. Action, pathos, a chase scene or three, “The Goose”, and of course that incredible XB Falcon. “Mad Max” is a film that simply can’t be overlooked. 

Steven Spielberg is best known for a few films starring Harrison Ford and a mind-blowing sci-fi film or two. However, an early part of his career involved a story that is about as simple as it comes. With minimal dialogue it relied on Spielberg’s ability to heighten tension with a simple camera move. Starring Dennis Weaver and based upon a book written by a car driver that had a similar experience with a mad truck driver, “Duel” remains one of the most gripping films of its kind nearly fifty years on.

It’s almost impossible to write a list of car films without including this entry. The stars of the film were three little machines designed by Alec Issigonis. The story line, again, was simple. Money, in the form of gold bullion, a few gags, some brilliant scenery and an amazing chase sequence, toss in the broad Cockney accent of Michael Caine, and you have “The Italian Job”. This one celebrates fifty years of delighting audiences.

It was agonizing to toss out some of the films that could have made the cut. There is the original “The Fast and The Furious” from 1955, and the remake & subsequent series of films. There was Jason Statham’s “The Transporter”, and the sublime recreation of the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in “Rush”. 

But number 4 goes to a Steve McQueen favourite. Based on real life events, and featuring film from one of the races itself, “Le Mans”. Takes our fourth grid spot. Packed with macho appeal, and the sense of unburnt “gasoline” hovering around the screen, Le Mans was notable for the bravery of the cameramen hanging on to the cars and heavy cameras of the time.

Number five features a product of Ford. Debate was heavy as to whether it was the Mustang called Eleanor, or a different hi-po machine wearing the Blue Oval badge. Ultimately it was another Steve McQueen film that won this intense battle and the honour of number five goes to a film that has an unbroken street-based chase scene of nearly ten minutes. Two cars were used, powered by a 325hp 390ci V8 powering down through a four-speed manual. The film is, of course, “Bullitt”

Tell us via our social media links what your top five films are? Is there a “Fast and Furious” in there, perhaps a different Mad Max film? We’d love to know your thoughts and feedback here at Rare Spares.