Part 2: Viper Venom
One of the best things about building a truck with 2 1/2-ton Rockwell axles is being able to throw obnoxious amounts of power at them. That's not to say they'll never break, but they're certainly not a weak link either.
With the factory powertrain plucked from our '99 Dodge Durango (aka Monster Mudder, aka Heavy Metal Mudder), we went searching for new horses from a completely different stable. We wanted to use Mopar muscle, but desired to do something different than a Hemi swap. So we went after the ground-shaking power from Dodge's flagship car, the Viper. Hemi engines make good power, but there is just something about a 505ci V-10 that makes us feel giddy as a fat kid at Chuck E. Cheese on his birthday.
Our first challenge was figuring out if this swap was even possible. Sure, anything's possible, but sometime's the benefit doesn't outweigh the cost. After spending some long hours on the phone with expert Viper tech Tom Sessions, we were able to determine that the 8.3L Gen III engine would be the easiest to swap in.
What makes the 8.3L the best is that it was available in the SRT-10 Dodge Ram with the automatic 48RE transmission. This meant we could easily bolt everything together, make it 4WD, and that there is a factory engine and transmission controller. We'll spend more time on the electronics in another issue, but for now we'll focus on actually getting the engine fitted inside the Durango.
At National Speed in Wilmington, North Carolina, the crew at Momentum Performance lent us a hand with some of the fabrication. Momentum specializes in twin turbo kits and high-performance mods for a slew of go-fast autos. While National Speed is a complete service shop, when it came time to recreate a firewall and build a custom set of headers, we decided to bring in Momentum to help us meet our deadline.
Be sure to check back with us next month as we continue the shoehorn process and begin making way for the remainder of the drivetrain pieces.
Type: Gen III, 90-degree V-10
Displacement: 8.3L (505 ci)
Weight (lb): 625 (approx.)
Horsepower (hp): 540 @ 5,700 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 580 @ 4,500 rpm
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The Viper Stork
When it comes to the Dodge Viper, few companies know more about it than Arrow Racing Engines. Arrow started more than 30 years ago to support all aspects of Chrysler Motorsports, performance parts, and production. The company was on the ground floor when the first Viper project was conceived in 1989. Now owned by Power-Tec Engineering, Arrow is the official Viper engine warranty center and has a customer engine service program that allows you to have your Gen I to Gen IV engine built and serviced. Arrow can also provide you with a complete replacement engine. In addition to a friendly and knowledgeable staff, Arrow has a huge selection of past and current Viper parts. It was our number-one source for getting everything from the correct SRT-10 throttle body to the rear sump oil pan.