This article on Frank Bergamin's Dodge Charger was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Street Machine magazine
Bergamin brothers are Mopar-mad and truly live by the motto: ‘If it ain’t Mopar, it’s below par.’ About the only thing they love more than the cars themselves is drag racing said Mopars. Frank Bergamin has this ’70 Dodge Charger and another ’69 Charger in the build, while brother Robert has a ’70 Road Runner and a VF Valiant coupe that’s run a best of 9.74 over the quarter-mile.
“We’ve raced most of our lives with Valiants,” Frank says. “The VF has a naturally aspirated small-block. It’s got W9 heads with an R3 race block, but it’s a big small-block; it’s been bored and stroked to 440 cubes.”
While the Bergamin Brothers Racing sticker across the windscreen might look pretty official, it’s really just a bunch of blokes having fun and helping each other out with their cars, something Frank’s been doing since he was 16 years old. “My first car was a VG Valiant, which I brought home and put a 265 and four-speed in,” he says. “When I was 19 I had an RX-2 Mazda with a 265 and a rollcage. Back then it was all about power-to-weight and I couldn’t afford the big V8 stuff.” The little Mazda ran an 11.8 on its one and only pass down the quarter. Pretty impressive stuff for a self-taught young bloke.
The 498ci big-block ran flat-11s in naturally aspirated form in Frank’s Dodge Dart. With the blower and a bellyful of C16 race gas, Frank reckons it has the potential to be a 9sec car
Fans of the Fast & Furious movie franchise may notice a strong resemblance between Frank’s ’70 Charger and the one used in those films, but the trainspotters amongst you will also notice it’s not an exact clone, more of a tribute really, as Frank explains: “I based it on the first movie when Vin Diesel pulled the shed door open and walked in with Paul Walker – the blown motor, no bonnet.”
To make sure nobody misses the BDS 8/71 blower, Frank raised it up 2in and added a 3in spacer under the carbs. It’s not quite as high as the roof, but it’s pretty close
Truth be told, the reason Frank doesn’t run a bonnet is that these cars are getting too expensive to cut up! It’s not registered or street-driven, and the lack of a bonnet makes it a lot easier for people to see that blown big-block Chrysler. The other main difference is that the movie car had a Hemi, but at least the blower on Frank’s car is the real deal, unlike its celluloid counterpart. “People always ask, so we’ve done a few powerskids out the front of my house just to prove it’s real,” he says.
Frank used to race a Dodge Dart with a big-block, which he sold as a roller, so he had an engine sitting around gathering dust. “Bench-racing with mates one night, we decided we would build a VH coupe into a burnout competition car. That fell through, but then a mate told me he knew someone who had a ’70 Dodge Charger sitting in their shed,” he says.
As it turned out, the bloke in question also had a VH Charger that he was doing up and a new baby on the way, and as the Dodge was a long way off being finished, he decided to let it go and get some cash. “It had been painted but had been sitting in a carport for nearly 10 years collecting dust and birdshit,” Frank says. “When I saw it sitting there with flat tyres looking real dirty and old I didn’t think the body looked that good, so I thought we’d just throw a blown motor in it and do a burnout car anyway.”
Before he got too carried away though, Frank had the good sense to send it to Smith’s Body Shop in Port Adelaide for a bit of a tidy-up. “They spent two days rubbing it back, buffing it and polishing it. The boot wasn’t painted so we sprayed that, the tail-light panel had a dent so we fixed that, and then it came out so well I thought: ‘Oh man, I can’t do burnouts in this.’”
Obviously the Chrysler engineers and stylists had drag racing in mind when they designed the Charger. There’s no problem fitting a 10in rim and 295 rubber into the stock wheel tubs
The engine in the car is based on a 1974 440 block and has been bored and stroked out to 498ci with a Scat forged crank and H-beam rods topped with Callies forged pistons. Edelbrock RPM alloy heads close it off before the BDS 8/71 blower goes on top. Twin 950cfm Quick Fuel carbs make sure there’s no issue with fuel supply, and a Crane solid cam with 260° duration and 600thou lift gets the rumpity-rum happening. The sweet sound of almost 500 inches of American muscle meets your ears unadulterated via the four-into-one TTI headers with two-inch primaries.
As this was originally an SE-spec car, it had a woodgrain dash panel. That didn’t go with the look of the car at all, so Frank made up an alloy panel and filled it with Auto Meter gauges
While the paintjob is over 10 years old and the car sat around for many years, once Frank got hold of it, it wasn’t long before it was up and running. “It’s been on the road about a year now,” he says. “I took delivery of it in October 2016; it spent a couple of months at my mate’s panel shop so I spent that time getting all the parts together. I got it back after Christmas and then me and my brother hammered it, putting it together in time for a Chrysler show in Adelaide. We had six weeks and I broke my finger two weeks into the build!”
Somehow they managed to meet the deadline and the car has been wowing – and deafening – people at every show it’s gone to.
Frank also scored a pair of ’68 Charger low-back buckets. “I like the clean look of them when you have the windows rolled down,” he says
Creating a movie-car tribute wasn’t initially on the cards, although Frank already had one on the go: “I’ve also got a ’69 Charger that I’ve been restoring over several years into a General Lee Dukes of Hazzard car.”
That will be the next project to roll out of the shed, but for something completely different, Frank just picked up a 1961 Humber. What on earth for, you might ask? To make a Mopar-powered gasser, of course!
1970 DODGE CHARGER
Paint: Glasurit Jet Black
Type: 498ci big-block Chrysler
Carb: Twin 950 Quick Fuel
Blower: BDS 8/71
Heads: Edelbrock RPM
Valves: 2.14in (in), 1.81in (ex)
Cam: 260°@0.050, 0.600in lift
Pistons: Callies forged
Crank: Scat forged
Conrods: Scat H-beam
Radiator: Custom alloy with twin electric fans
Exhaust: TTI 4-into-1 headers, that’s it!
’Box: 727 Torqueflite
Converter: Coan blower custom 10in
Front suspension: Torsion bar, Calvert 90/10 shocks
Rear suspension: Calvert mono-leaf springs with CalTracs, Calvert eight-way adjustable shocks
Brakes: SSBC discs with four-spot calipers (f), drums (r)
Rims: Weld ProStar; 15x5 (f), 15x10 (r)
Rubber: Maxtrek 195R15LT (f), M/T ET Street S/S 295/65/15 (r)
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Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.
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