Amidst the Vipers circling Miller Motorsports Park at the 11th Annual Viper Owners Invitational last week were a few animals that clearly did not belong in the reptile exhibit. Most notable among them was Derek Ekins custom fabricated 2006 Chrysler 300 Touring, which harbors a sinister secret under the hood 525 of them, to be exact. In place of the factory-installed 3.5-liter V6 that originally powered the vehicle sits Dodges gen III 8.3L Viper V10 engine, which Derek claims cranks out 25 more horsepower than the original. Even more inspiring than the performance, though, is how all of this came to be.
When you view Dereks masterpiece for the first time, your only thought after regaining the ability to process abstract information is Whered you get it? He answers with the amused laugh of a man who has fielded this question before, saying simply I got it from a wrecking yard back east. Disheartening images of a brand new Viper languishing gutless and forgotten immediately vanish from your mind, replaced by the next logical question Who did it? The answer is Derek, which unleashes another engulfing wave of respect. Though he farmed out the work that was admittedly above his available tool and skill set, everything save for the wiring harness (Hotwire Auto) and the computer reflash (DC Performance) was done solo. It took me about a year because I had to figure everything out, he explained, but he was bound and determined to finish. In a modest 2-car garage with little more than a jackstand, a welder, and an engine hoist, Derek worked tirelessly to preserve the authenticity of the Vipers renowned capability. All outward indicators would suggest he was extremely successful.
Power from the 300s V10 is channeled by a T56 Tremec 6-speed manual transmission and supported by Eibach adjustable coilovers on all four corners and a matching swaybar kit, all of which Derek claims can support horsepower far in excess of the engines rating. To feed the V10s voracious appetite, the rear trunk space was fitted with a custom Aeromotive fuel tank while the cooling system was beefed up with a 3-inch thick C&R racing radiator and a custom Sprinter oil filter. Derek spared no expenses to accommodate the powertrain, which he acknowledges was a necessity, I built it knowing about the power and trying to keep it reliable. Despite the heavy upgrades, however, this was never intended to be a track car. I didnt really build it to race it, he says, I just wanted something different. I really liked the Viper, but I couldnt fit my whole family in it.
All told the craftsmanship is above reproach, as evidenced by the deafening exhaust note and enveloping sense of incredulousness felt when peering into the exposed engine bay. The level of care and dedication poured into this project is striking to say the least, and we proudly remove our hats in admiration.