Get Your New or Classic Muscle Car Ready to Drag Race

November 16th, 2016 by

Barracuda Drag Race

Mark Leslie is new to University Mitsubishi’s service department, but he has been customizing, revamping and restoring vehicles for years. We’ve already talked about some of the mods he can do to your truck and a few of the engine modifications to add horsepower and torque — and today, we are going to show you two more examples of what Mark can do for your vehicle.  

We don’t care if you have an old muscle car or a new muscle car, we can make it fast, really fast. Mark Leslie can transform any classic muscle or new muscle into a drag racing car. Here’s two examples of stock cars (one old and one new,) transformed into street legal drag race cars for less than $20,000.  

Old Muscle: 1970 Plymouth Barracuda

Whether you just bought a 1970 Barracuda in fairly good shape or you’ve been hoarding it in your garage for years, when you’re ready to soup it up for a drag race, we’re ready, too. There are a couple ways we can modify it and that’s all up to you, but Mark has some ideas to modify your ‘Cuda’s engine and exterior to make it race-ready.

Engine Mods + Transmission

One relatively inexpensive and easy way to add a lot of horsepower to your ‘Cuda’s stock 440 cubic inch engine is by adding a 300-horsepower nitrous oxide kit. An additional 300 horses would amp up your original engine to about 700-800 horsepower and 750 lb-ft of torque. Another option to add a lot of horsepower is by doing an engine swap- we discuss that more below.

Whether you do an engine swap or add a nitrous kit, the vehicle’s original inline 5-speed automatic transmission will need to be modified to handle the engine’s extra power. Also, in many cases with an engine swap replacing the transmission may be needed as well. Modifications to the transmission include upgrading the clutches (Mark recommends JW Clutches) and the torque converter.


All of that horsepower and torque is going to sound real nice, but your car is going to have a hard time using all of that power without upgrading the suspension. Upgrading a suspension is one of the more expensive steps of the process, but it is needed to handle the new power in your Barracuda. Suspension upgrades include replacing the original rear springs with Cal-Trax springs to optimize rear traction and softening the front springs and changing the shocks so the car reacts better in the front with additional power.

Tires, Wheels and Brakes

Last but not least, you’re going to need to upgrade the brakes and replace the tires. Classic cars (‘60s and ‘70s) are typically fitted with drum brakes and drum brakes don’t handle stopping at high speeds (especially when racing up to 150 + mph) very well. So Mark would replace the original drum brakes with Wilwood disc brakes and add 12” brake rotors in the front and 11” brake rotors in the rear. When it comes to tires, D.O.T. street legal drag radials are the way to go. For performance, safety (and style), Mark would use  7” wide front tires and wider 11” rear tires.

Paint Job

You can keep the classic look of your 1970 Plymouth Barracuda by choosing one of the Mopar-or-no-car legacy heritage hues. B5 blue is pretty hot right now.

Original :1970 Plymouth Barracuda

440 cubic inch engine with a 4-barrel carburetor
5-speed automatic transmission
370 horsepower, 350 lb-ft of torque
Stock suspension, drum brakes, stock tires, stock rims
Track Times: Quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds, top speed about 155 mph

Final Result

1970 Plymouth Barracuda, B5 Blue
440 cubic inch engine with 300 horsepower Nitrous Oxide Kit
5-speed automatic transmission with JW Clutches
700-800 horsepower, 750 lb-ft of torque
Cal-Trax Springs
4 Wilwood Disc Brakes
D.O.T Street Legal Drag Radial Tires: 7” wide front, 11” wide rear
18” aluminum rims
Track Times: Quarter Mile in 10 seconds, top speed of 140 mph

Time and Cost

Nitrous Oxide Kit: 1 day, parts and labor around $2,500
Transmission, Clutches and Torque Convertor: 2 days, parts and labor around $3,000.
Suspension: 3 days, parts and labor around $6,000.
Tires, Wheels and Wilwood Disc Brakes: 1 day, parts and labor around $3,740
Paint Job: Price and time of a paint job greatly varies. Average is about $4,000 and a week.
Total: Around 7-10 days and $15,240.  (without paint job)

Engine Swap Option

Engine swaps are a matter of replacing the original engine with an entirely new engine, even with something like a 707-horsepower SRT Hellcat engine. People choose this option because the engine’s technology is newer and the vehicle’s engine miles are reset to zero. However, bigger engines require more space and if it doesn’t fit under the hood of a vehicle, it might need to take up space in the passenger compartment and force you to reconfigure a lot of the vehicle’s interior.  Engine swaps are a lot more expensive than adding a Nitrous Oxide Kit or other engine modifications. The cost of an engine swap starts around $10,000, but cost and results really depend on the type of engine.

New Muscle: 2016 Chevy Camaro

The process to transform a new performance car, like a 2016 Chevy Camaro, into a street legal drag race car is a little different than the above example.

Engine + Transmission

Instead of an engine swap or adding a nitrous kit, Mark would add a supercharger to the Camaro’s 6.2-liter V8 stock engine. Adding a supercharger would add roughly 200 horsepower, bringing the Camaro’s power to around 655 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. Adding a supercharger to modern engines is a fairly expensive process because it requires a lot of changes to the car’s tuned computerized systems. Without changing the vehicle’s original computer settings, the car wouldn’t be able to run.   

Headers + Exhaust

To further increase horsepower, Mark would upgrade the vehicle’s stock headers and exhaust and add a cold air intake. These parts increase the amount of oxygen in an engine and in return that increases horsepower and torque. Mark recommends Kooks headers and a Borla exhaust and together, they will add about 15 horsepower. For the cold air intake, Mark recommends K&N and it will add about 10 horsepower. This then brings total horsepower to around 670 horses.

Transmission + Suspension

8-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission and it doesn’t need to be changed. Unlike the suspension on a classic car,  the suspension on a new performance car can handle extra horsepower fairly well, so it wouldn’t be a necessary upgrade.

Brakes + Tires

Mark recommends replacing the vehicle’s stock disc brakes with Wilwood disc brakes and on the 2016 Camaro, Mark would use 15” rotors on the back and front. Mark wouldn’t change the Camaro’s stock rims, but he would switch out the stock tires for D.O.T. street legal drag radials that are 9” in the front and 11” in the rear.   

Original: 2016 Chevy Camaro 2SS

6.2-liter V8 engine
8-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque
Stock sport suspension: MacPherson Strut front suspension, Multi-Link rear suspension
Stock 20” aluminum rims
4 Disc Brakes
Track Times: Quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds and top speed is about 155 mph

Final Result

2016 Chevy Camaro 2SS supercharged
6.2-liter V8 engine with a supercharger
8-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission
670 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque
Stock suspension
Stock rims
4 Wilwood Disc Brakes
D.O.T Street Legal Drag Radial Tires: 9” wide front, 11” wide rear

Time and Cost

Supercharger: 3-4 days, parts and labor $11,000
K&N Cold Air Intake: TIME, parts and labor $500
Kooks header and Borla Exhaust: TIME, $3,500

Have a car you want to make race ready?

Call our service department 954-745-9380 and ask to speak with Mark Leslie. 

Photo source: Shutterstock