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1999 Dodge Durago Performance Parts Preparation - Phase II Heavy Metal Mudder

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 2009
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Performance is a word that means so much to so many people. Ask any car guru to describe performance and he's likely to come back with a million different supercharged or high-boost engine upgrades that he would love to have. Ask the same question to a Jeep guy and he'll probably mention things like coilover shocks and long-arm suspensions. To us they are both right. For most veteran auto enthusiasts, performance is something that is sought after throughout the entire vehicle.

It's with this idea of performance that we've decided to put our '99 Dodge Durango project vehicle, dubbed the Heavy Metal Mudder, back under the knife for a serious powertrain upgrade. If you've followed our series of the build (the fifth and final part was in last month's issue), you'll likely note that the monster Mopar is already complete with a custom multilink suspension, 21/2-ton Rockwell axles, and 44-inch Boggers. It is powered by the factory 5.9L engine, 48RE transmission, and NP242 transfer case. We clearly have everything from the framerail south beefed up, but the factory stuff just doesn't have the high performance and power we're itching for.

1. We chose to remove the hood for better photography lighting and increased visibility of the firewall. Though removing the hood isn't a must, it will all but eliminate the little dark cavities that hide those hard-to-see firewall clamps and bolts.

So now we find ourselves back east in Wilmington, North Carolina, at National Speed, a place that specializes in high-performance engines and tuning. From twin-turbo Nissan 350z's and classic muscle cars to coilover suspension systems, National Speed's experience with the high-performance aftermarket world made it the perfect choice for the next stage of our Durango build.

By this point you're likely wondering what high-performance powerplant we have in store. As much as we would like to go ahead and give away how we plan on squeezing over 500 ponies under the hood of our high-rise Durango, we won't spoil the surprise (though there are some good hints in this story if you read between the lines). For this issue we focus on getting the old parts out and begin the preparation for the new terra-dominating powerplant.

PhotosView Slideshow

Full speed ahead
Most engine swaps require a little firewall modification. This one requires a tad more. Stay tuned as we try to squeeze in over 500 ci of engine and start work on our custom firewall, engine mounts, and whole lot more.

National Speed
As one of the fastest-growing performance shops on the east coast, National Speed's goal is to improve the power, performance, and reliability of whatever vehicle you are driving. From a Dodge Dart to the Dodge Viper and everything in between, if it's made to go, National Speed can make it go faster. So the next time you're cruising on the coast of the Carolinas, stop by. If it's on a Saturday you'll likely score a free burger from the National Speed grill!


National Speed

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