SEMA Seen: Viper-powered 1962 Chrysler 300

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Up front, under the hood, is a Viper V10 engine | Larry Edsall photos

There are so many car-based cable television series based around custom cars and those who build them that it’s hard to keep track. In fact, I admit, I’d never heard of the Speed is the New Black program that shares the work of the St. Louis-based Classic Car Studio Speed Shop on the Velocity channel.

But while wandering around the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Central Hall last week during the 2017 SEMA Show, I was drawn more than a couple of times to the Centerforce Clutches booth to marvel at the shop’s 1962 Chrysler 300.

Showcased on Season 1, Episode 8, which aired early this summer, the heavily patinaed customized classic is slammed to the ground, wears a brown and faded-green color scheme, and has a phenomenal interior.

Gen-2 Viper V10 fit — somehow — into the classic Chrysler’s engine bay

But there’s more to this build than its crusty, old-school, barn-find visual appeal. Beneath the hood is an 8.0-liter V10 engine from a Dodge Viper, backed by a T56 6-speed transmission and a 4.11 rear end.

Through the shop’s website and its link to Velocity, I tried to watch the episode, but about halfway through, the screen froze, and when I tried to get back to the program, what appeared was a show about Alaska and I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the New Black.

But I saw enough to learn that the patina on the car is real, not faux; that the car’s owner had sent it to a different shop but pulled it back; that he wanted the ’62 to be as fast as his new Dodge Hellcat; that the car was immediately nicknamed “Doris” by the Classic Car Studio owner, Noah, who drives a hot-rodded pickup called Tiffany; and that Doris now rides on 22-inch rear and 20-inch front wheels.

I liked that the program was more about car-building than any sort of pseudo shop drama.

I hope the car’s owner was happy with the finished project, because it sure looked cool just sitting there at the convention center.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

1 COMMENT

  1. I like the fact that there are more automotive programs than ever but so many are using a "reality" format or making the show more about the personalities than the cars.

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