The wild ride, the vicious looks, the thunderous roar, this old hotrod has it all!
With the support of V8’s all throughout Australia, one would think hotrods would be more commonplace, the presence of this modification style seems to be fairly absent in recent times. However, Royden’s car makes it clear that hotrodding definitely still holds its place within Australia today, and I say we should embrace it with open arms!
In 1996, a man by the name of Tony, from Hastings, New Zealand, sold his classic project car, a 1928 Dodge Brothers sedan, to Royden. When purchased, there was no more than an old dreary looking chassis and some of a shell, it represented the massive scale of a project most people would shy away from, but not Royden and his wife Vicki. Within due time, this old Dodge became a street legal weapon which could supply sub 10 second times on the quarter mile, and then be taken for a weekend cruise just a few days later, known as FAS728.
And so the build began. From the get go, Royden envisioned the car to be restored to a point where it was street legal, which would be quite the task and took him nearly 20 years to reach that point, but he made it in the end with the support of his wife and kids, and the result is incredible, to say the least.
Firstly the chassis had to be rebuilt, and this had to be done according to the regulations for full NSW Registration. Royden did this himself at home, he didn’t palm this task off to a workshop, he truly built this hotrod from the frame up. Once the frame had been restored, he began to size up and fabricate the new suspension system. In the midst of this process, he had an engineer checking to ensure the build was up to par, and being reassured that it was, he pressed on.
Atop the chassis was placed the shell, a 1928 Dodge Brothers sedan, a vehicle which marked the end of an era for Dodge Brothers. This was the year which Chrysler had purchased the Dodge Brothers Company, and were soon to be renamed to only Dodge. The body of Royden’s gives that classic vibe, with styling which does not vary too far from the original creation of Dodge Brothers. As with the frame of the car, other than the previous owner changing the car from 4 door to 2 door, the body was made and modified by Royden himself. The panels were cut from sheet steel using a grinder and then bent to meet the shape of the car. As you wander around the car, you notice many small imperfections, but none of which are drawbacks. From the missing paint on top of the side running boards which were created by flames barraging out of the side exit exhaust of the Big Block Buick, to the signs of use which can be seen in the aged panels all around the car, this cars screams character and shows that it is not afraid to be used!
The interior truly expresses the means of simplicity, the dash was custom made, again, not by a workshop but by Royden and only contains the necessities. Speedo, RPM Gauge, and the rest of the necessary gauges, such as temperatures and pressures to ensure the beastly 9L motor keeps within it’s limits. The door trims are pretty much nonexistent, just simply a panel with a window roller and a door lever. No fancy carpets, which Royden finds convenient for the childrens dirty shoes. Surprisingly, the seats were pulled out of a Honda Integra and fit perfectly within the metal box, the subtle colour blends in perfectly with the rest of the car. It’s the interior of a car that isn’t built for comfort, but instead built for speed, fun and functionality!
A Ford 9″ differential was sourced to throw in the rear end of the car, this diff was upgraded with a Strange USA Centre with a 4.11:1 ratio working alongside a Detroit Locker, a much needed modification to manage to brutality which was to come from this car. To get the power from the differential to the rear wheels, a pair of Race Production full floating billet hubs and Bulletproof Axles got the job done.
And onto the exciting part, the motor, straddling the front of this old Dodge Brothers Sedan, is an all aluminium 455cui Big Block Buick V8, which has been bored and stroked to a whopping 555cui (9.0 Litres). This massive motor has the internals to match, sporting a Crower lightweight forged crankshaft, Callies ‘Ultra Rods’ connecting rods, Diamond Custom billet pistons with lightweight Total Seal rings, custom billet solid roller camshaft, TA Performance Buick stage 2 tall port aluminuim cylinder heads, custom made CFE tunnel ram with owner modified Carb Spacers, twin Pro System E85 Carburettors, ICE ignition system with 7amp 2step CDI ignition and a billet distributor. Paired with this is a Stefs Race Glides race prepped TH400 3 Speed GM transmission with a full manual shift reverse pattern, 9″ 5400rpm stall converter and Strange USA chrome moly tail shaft with billet yoke and HD Universals. Quite the motor!
This plethora of modifications ultimately adds up to a monstrous 910hp (679kw) and 845ft/lb (1145nm) of torque on the BK Race Engines engine dyno, which he doesn’t hide, with the engine being uncovered and exposed so onlookers can see it in all its might. These figures within a shell which weighs 1400kg, makes the quite the wild ride, drag slips indicate the car accelerates to 100km/h in less than 2 seconds! I got to experience this myself at Powercruise Sydney in 2015, at which point the car was making 100hp less and was still an extremely immense, adrenaline pumping ride. Even to this day Royden says the car both scares and excites him, no matter how many times he lines up on a dragway, or has a heavy footed drive, he always emerges from the car with hands shaking from the adrenaline rush. This is understandable though, as the car lifts the front wheels a few feet off the ground when it’s launched at the drags and spins the rear wheels cruising in top gear, I don’t think you can blame him.
Royden and his wife Vicki are incredibly lovely people, who have put an enormous amount of time and effort into this incredible car, and this can be seen throughout, it’s sole purpose is to go fast and have a lot of fun doing so. The family can be seen with the car at many events on the east coast of Australia, and genuinely enjoy the company it brings. Even during my time shooting the car, there was always someone else either looking at the car, asking about the car or taking their own photos with their phone camera. It’s safe to say this car is definitely a keeper, and will continue to frequent events both on and off track!
Car: 1928 Dodge Brothers Sedan
Power: 910hp and 845ft/lb of torque
Engine: Aluminium 455cui Big Block Buick bored and stroked to 555cui (9 litre), 4.5″ bore block made by TA Performance in Scottsdale, Arizona, Crower lightweight forged crankshaft with a 4.36″ stroke, Callies “Ultra Rods” conrods, 7.1″ long, Diamond Custom billet piston with lightweight Total Seal ring package, 13.5:1 compression, Custom billet solid roller camshaft 0.650″ lift and 255′ @0.050 duration, TA Performance Buick stg2 tall port aluminium cylinder heads flowing 389cfm @0.650″ lift, Custom made CFE tunnel ram with owner modified carb spacers, Twin 840cfm Pro System E85 carburettors, ICE ignition system, 7amp 2 step CDI ignition, billet distributor
Transmission: Stefs Race Glides race prepped TH400 3 speed GM transmission, Full manual shift reverse pattern, Built to 1200hp specs, 9″ 5400rpm stall converter
Differential: Based on Ford 9″ differential, Race Products full floating billet hubs and bulletproof axles, Strange USA Centre with 4.11:1 gear ratio connected to Detroit Locker 35 spline centre, Strange USA chrome moly tail shaft with billet yoke and HD universals
Exterior: Custom 4-door to 2-door conversion