The urge to rip the beating heart out of one beast and shove it into the leaner body of another is older than Doc Frankenstein's ponderings on defeating death. It's the heart and soul of hot-rodding, the granddaddy of tuning-taking what you've got and cramming the biggest motor lying around underhood. Of course, that's not always enough to play with the big boys on the block.
Matt Drouin's work as a subcontracted master technician for Underground Racing in Charlotte, N.C., puts him behind the wheel of mega-horsepower customer cars on a daily basis. When the time came to build his own project, he knew it had to be something that would standout from the Mustang, Viper, and Vette crowd but still be able to go toe-to-toe with the local heavyweights.
Instead of going with a Fox body build like the rest of the wrench monkeys in tobacco country, Matt decided on a car he'd pined for since childhood: an '87 Chrysler Conquest. The aging coupe's bold lines and low stance were exactly what came to mind when the words "sports car" were uttered around him, but after driving the car for two months on the rebuilt stock 2.6L four-banger, he knew it was going to need more than the Mitsubishi block could dish out.
There's no denying that the stock mill is known more for its explosive properties than its power numbers. The obvious solution was to replace the vulnerable powerplant with something more robust, something like a 5.7 liter LS1 straight from a '04 Pontiac GTO.
A few years ago, a customer with Carolina Performance decided to chuck his 14,000-mile example for a Crate monstrosity. Matt was a tech at the shop at the time, and picked up his miracle mill for the core charge-just $800. With that, he set about wedging twice the cylinders into the Conquest's engine bay.
Unfortunately, those eight bills only paid for the long-block. All of the peripherals that make the Bow Tie motor breathe fire were missing in action. For the next year and a half, Matt scoured eBay for the bits and pieces he needed to get his mill in fighting form, successfully earning himself the nickname "eBay Whore" around the shop.
In the meantime, he turned his attention to shoehorning 5.7 liters of all-aluminum pushrod power between the headlights and the firewall. Of course, lodging the shining star of General Motor's engineering into a nearly 20-year-old coupe with Japanese bloodlines wasn't going to be a bolt-on operation. By the time it was tucked in, Matt dropped over 200 hours of personal fabrication time on the project.
Pieces and parts from a slew of vehicles across the manufacturing spectrum were cannibalized and cut up for the construction. The carnage started with a set of headers from a '99 Corvette, spliced in half and flipped to fit with Viper tips. That's when Matt noticed the opportunity to turn this Chrysler into something more than a mule with a big motor. "I had to fab the driver-side manifold anyway," Matt says. "I figured I might as well put a turbo on the car."
The mad fabricator bolted a Turbonetics T66 to his new manifold, wrapped around the car's steering rack from a Dodge Mighty Max pickup. The cutting continued when he put his hands on a GReddy intercooler designed for twin-turbo 350Zs. His solution? Run the single 2.25-inch piping from the T66 into a custom y-pipe. The dual 2.25-inch pipes run through the GReddy unit and exit into a single 3-inch pipe.
After situating his trick intercooler and piping, he noticed something was going to have to be done to make room for a system to keep all of that extra displacement cool. Matt constructed new radiator supports for the massive intercooler and a radiator to handle all the heat generated by four more cylinders-an aftermarket job designed for a '57 Chevrolet Bel Air.