Ideas for some of the most venomous street shakers aren't hatched over night. In fact, many of them take decades to evolve. For Richard Rigoli of Wayland, Massachusetts, it was his very first Christmas morning in 1951 when his father surprised him with a bevy of wheels, including a pedal car, fire truck, and a tricycle, all of which sparked the magneto in his very young mind.
Ken Lazzeri at Indy Cylinder Head built this 542ci behemoth generating 800 hp using all th
It didn't take long after that to come under the spell of Chrysler products with their legendary power offerings supported by race-ready performance and cutting-edge advertising. His first purchase as a licensed driver came in the form of a near-new 1964 Dodge 440 two-door hardtop packed with a four-speed shifted 383ci V-8. From there his first stop was to New England Speed Equipment to outfit the car with chrome reverse rims, new tires, and a number of hop-up parts to get it ready for the street and strip. The kid from Wayland was now running in the 14s at New England Dragway in nearby Epping, New Hampshire, but the 383 eventually melted down. A search commenced for a 426ci Street Wedge, which he readily rebuilt packed with speed shop goods elevating the hardtop to the mid 12s at the track. The Dodge was sold off as a roller and the guts were transferred into a 1964 330 sedan, which ran 12-second quarter-mile times till it was retired in 1971.
Focusing on his business and family for the next few decades he never lost his thirst for Chrysler products. In fact, over the last 25 years he has located and restored seven Chrysler letter-series cars ranging from 1955 to 1962, including a very-rare '60 300F convertible and a 1962 300H with an optional factory 405hp V-8. While owning the fleet of restored cars was cool, he still felt a nagging presence to return to his drag racing roots with a hardcore-styled 1962 Chrysler 300H two-door hardtop. A search then ensued for a reasonable project car to launch the build. After canvassing a number of trade publications, a suitable donor car was located in Colorado. A deal was made and the car was shipped to Richard's own Enigma Rod Shop in Billerica, Massachusetts, for review by team leader and business partner Mike Casey. Although the car was in solid but rough shape it would be perfect as the base for the project.
Immaculate body and paint accented by the seductive hood created by John Yani gives the bi
Casey wasted no time in tearing down the car to its bare bones and decided the best way to proceed would be to order up a fresh spine for plenty of additional strength. A call was placed to Art Morrison Enterprises for one of their rock-solid custom Profile frames constructed from 2x4-inch rectangular steel tubing with extra-strength crossmembers and the wheelbase increased from the stock 122 to 124 inches. To plant the horsepower a narrowed Ford 9-inch rear filled with Strange Engineering 4.88:1 gears and axles was suspended in place by an Art Morrison four-link combined with Panhard and antiroll bars. To soak up the bumps and allow for plenty of adjustment an Art Morrison Air Spring Plus system does the job. Keeping the car low to the ground and to give it superb handling an Art Morrison IFS with tubular upper and lower control arms and Air Spring Plus bags was teamed with Strange Engineering shocks, 2-inch dropped Art Morrison spindles, and an antiroll bar. To tame the beast at a moment's notice Casey fabbed up a custom pedal assembly pushing fluid through a Master Power Brakes dual-power master via stainless lines to Wilwood four-piston calipers and matching 12-inch discs at each corner. Filling the wheelwells, a combination of classic Weld Pro-Star 15-inch wheels shod with Hoosier rubber all around does the job.
For plenty of thump, Richard's research brought him to engine builder Ken Lazzeri at Indy Cylinder Head in Indianapolis, Indiana, to build a fire-breathing 542ci Wedge V-8. To get started a 440ci Wedge Mopar Performance Mega Block was bumped (bored and stroked) to 542 ci and filled with a 4.5-inch Callies stroker crank linked to Eagle H-beam steel rods wearing Wiseco 10.5:1 pistons. A COMP Cams roller cam sets the pace while Indy Cylinder Head 440-1 ported and polished aluminum heads packed with stainless valves generate plenty of power. To cap off the block and heads an Indy Cylinder Head aluminum dual-quad intake topped with a pair of Edelbrock 750-cfm carbs wearing a custom-fabbed Chrysler air cleaner by Enigma Rod Shop. An MSD 6AL ignition sparks the beast to life via wiring by Skip Readio of Ayer, Massachusetts, to custom headers by Willies Custom Tubes and a 3-inch stainless exhaust with Magnaflow mufflers by Enigma Rod Shop. Generating 800 hp on the dyno the engine was matched to a 727 Chrysler race model trans packed with hardcore parts by Rick Allison at A&A Transmission of Camby, Indiana. Linked to a Gear Vendors Inc. overdrive unit it nails shifts through a Cheetah SCS shifter while a custom driveshaft by Coleman Racing sends the power rearward.
With the chassis and driveline complete it was time to focus on bringing the old steel shell back to life. Wanting to maintain the car's original design elements while infusing a few well thought out changes Richard contacted John Yani of Yani's Custom Fabrication of Georgetown, Massachusetts, to help in creating a one-off hood scoop. The scoop gave the car a unique signature look and was accented out back by the trunk wing, which was fabricated by Casey at Enigma. The body was then turned over to Jack "Wolfe" Silva of Waltham, Massachusetts, to repair any undesirable areas and to block it to perfection. Silva then filled his spray gun with a custom PPG blend of deep purple and proceeded to lay down the mile-deep vibe. To give the interior complementary allure Casey fabricated a waterfall-style center console to run the length of the interior and also created a mild steel 10-point rollbar. The interior was covered with yards of tan and purple leather, complemented by tan wool carpet by Bill Freel Auto Interiors of Manchester, New Hampshire. To monitor the vitals a restored stock dash was accented by Auto Meter gauges along with cool breezes by Vintage Air and suspension control by AccuAir. Completing the project Richard vowed to lay down plenty of miles as the years fly by, and to us that's bitchin'!
COMP PERFORMANCE GROUP TECH TIPS
For Proper Seat Pressure, Valvespring Height Must Be Right
Valvesprings need to be installed at proper heights to get the correct seat pressure for the cam you are using. To do this, measure the parts (valve, retainer, and locks) installed on the heads without the springs. Using a spring height mic (PN 4929) in place of the spring, just turn it out to extend it. Once it is seated, look at the mic for the installed height of your parts. You can then see if the spring needs shims if it is too tall, or if you need to raise the height with a different valve lock to achieve the correct height.
Be Leak Free
Ensure that the exhaust system doesn't have any leaks. The O2 sensor in an EFI system, including the EZ-EFI and XFI, will read a header leak as a lean condition. This will cause the ECU to add fuel to the engine, which exacerbates the problem.
The Right Cam for the Job
In EFI applications, you will want to select a cam with slightly shorter duration figures and slightly wider lobe separation angles as compared to what you would typically use in the same engine with a four-barrel carburetor. Interestingly, in IR (Individual Runner)-type systems such as Inglese uses, the carburetors utilized (Webers) tend to be more finicky about cam selection than the EFI versions are. This would typically seem "backward" as we've been trained to believe just the opposite. In MOST cases, the EFI would be the pickier one about cam overlap, duration, but in the case with the EZ-EFI and XFI operating systems, we've been able to advance them to where they perform very well with cams that would typically never be happy in the Weber-carbed applications.