We were definitely pleased – but not necessarily surprised – with the massive interest in our new 2011 project car, Killer Kong. As mentioned in the official announcement, our sick ’69 Dodge Charger will be cloned into a rip-snorting HEMI-powered R/T clone (back when the “R/T” badge meant something, and wasn’t found on family-truckster Caravans and limp-wristed FWD hatchbacks).
We’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of some much-needed go-fast goodies to get our big bronze B-Body out on the road, so we wanted to drop a couple sneak peek images just to show what we’re cooking up. Right now, with ‘Kong up on a quartet of jackstands, we’ve dropped the factory 8.75 rear differential and housing in preparation for the arrival of our Currie-built Dana 60.
Although equipped with a gutless “peg leg” open differential 8.75 – commonly known as an “eight-and-three-quarter” – spinning a freeway-flier ring and pinion, the factory-equipped “Sure Grip” 8.75’s were plenty strong for automatic-equipped HEMI cars and Magnum 440 R/Ts.
Even the big-breathing 440 Six-Pack A12 Coronet Super Bees and Road Runners came with the 8.75 housing. Featuring a nodular 10-bolt center section, the 8.75 served as a worthy smaller sibling to the legendary Dana 60 rear.
The Dana 60, on the other hand, is one of the most commonly used differentials in the auto industry. Originally manufactured by Dana Corporation, the first Dana 60’s were used as front axles for Ford trucks in 1955. Designed to withstand grueling loads, Chrysler commissioned the Dana 60 for use in its Dodge truck line as well as its performance-bred passenger cars; featuring changes such as a side differential drop, standard rotation gears, kingpin knuckles and 35-spline axles.
Used specifically for manually-shifted A833-equipped HEMI applications, the Dana 60 rear cemented itself in the nomenclature of the Mopar elite as thee rear end to withstand everything the might “King Kong” HEMI motor could throw at it.
Because of this infamy, finding original Dana 60’s for B- and E-Body Mopars is either borderline impossible or exceptionally expensive. While several manufacturers have taken to fabricating their own version of the rear-loading housing, Dana 60’s are not necessarily rare if you know where to look.
We snagged ‘Kong‘s Dana from an ’89 Ford F-350 pickup sitting in a local wrecking yard for $200. Although the axle tubes are far longer than the factory B-Body Chrysler tubes, they are also thicker (1/2-inch wall). While this adds some additional weight to our already hefty rear, it also bulks up our Dana’s rigidity.
Knowing our end cap-to-end cap width by measuring off of the 8.75, we Sawzall’ed off the Ford ends and proceeded to hack off all the F-350 perches (as none of them would work with our leaf spring rear suspension). The housing was pretty discolored and pitted, so after cleaning off all the perches, we passed over the housing with a wire cup wheel on a hand grinder.
Behind our garage, we rattle-canned our Dana housing in semi-gloss black to tide us over until we could finish it off with a bulletproof Detroit Locker, a ring and pinion from Motive Gear (4.56 gears), and a bunch of needful internals from Currie (including axles, bearings, and a pair of 11-inch drums). So until then, make sure to stay tuned!