With the bevy of potent factory-produced muscle cars on offer today, one of the biggest challenges for fans of domestic performance is just choosing between them. And after years of squirreling away funds for the purchase, in 2014 Anthony Martin was finally ready take the plunge. Exactly where his hard-earned greenbacks would be directed was still up in the air, though.
“I knew I wanted something fast,” Martin says. “ And I knew I wanted something with a muscle car heritage, so of course I was looking at the Mustang, Camaro, Charger and Challenger. I even considered getting a Corvette, but before I made up my mind, fate stepped in.”
As a father of four the Haines City, Florida engineer had responsibilities that extended beyond satiating his lust for performance. “Instead of getting myself a new car, I went to the dealership on Valentine’s Day and I bought my honey a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan,” he explains. “Power lift gate, power sliders, rear video – pretty much all the toys available.”
For the next two years he would continue to daily drive his well-worn ’98 Pontiac Grand Prix, hoping that the car would hold together until he could find a suitable replacement. “In September 2017 on my 47th birthday it finally happened,” he recalls. “One day after Hurricane Irma tore through my town, I bought a 2017 Dodge Charger Daytona 392 in Destroyer Grey with every available option.”
Martin said it was a tough choice, particularly with supercharged Hellcat now readily available. But ultimately it was the availability of a specific optional feature that would tip the scales in the Daytona’s favor. “The most important to me at the time was the adaptive cruise control,” he says. “I have had some issues due to an accident in 2015 and drive a lot of highway miles for work, so I was thinking the adaptive cruise would help tremendously.” Adaptive cruise control isn’t available on the supercharged Challenger and Charger models due to Dodge engineers’ concerns about maximizing airflow efficiency through the grille openings.
For some enthusiasts that might be where the story would end – Martin drives off into the sunset as a happy new Mopar muscle car owner. Not in this case though. “That first day driving to work was magical – I jumped on I-4 from Highway 27 headed to Daytona!” he tells us. “I was beyond pleased. I drove all over Florida that first week. I found the sweet roar of the 392 cubic inch engine was music to my ears when the road opened up, and I was looking forward to driving every day. I was even getting decent gas mileage! Then I get a call from work. After years of driving my own car, they had decided to give me a company vehicle.”
While the company car was certainly a windfall, Martin knew it wasn’t going to compare to driving his new Charger Daytona 392. But perhaps more importantly, it was also going to alter the Daytona’s role from that of a daily driver to a weekend cruiser. Martin was determined to make the best of the situation though. “I decided to make my car the most bad-assed Dodge Charger Daytona 392 that I could.”
Taking The Daytona To The Next Level
Martin’s “Day Two” project got underway with relatively mild modifications, as many do. “I started with simple things – a few decals, some window tint, and wider rear tires,” he says. But it wasn’t long before the urge to get more ponies under the hood proved too strong to ignore. “I was talking to my son about his turbocharged Nissan 240 project car, and I thought “hey, what about a twin turbo Charger?”
Unfortunately Martin had to quickly nix that idea after he discovered that aftermarket support for such a build was essentially nonexistent. But that wouldn’t deter him from forced induction altogether. “I started researching and found that if I wanted that it would have to be a one hundred percent custom turbo setup, as there was no pre-made kit available,” he says. “But what I did find was that there were quite a few supercharger kits I could get. So I read through everything I could find online about all the different options and finally decided that Whipple was the one for me.”
The next step was to decide whether he wanted to have a shop perform the surgery or tackle the project himself. “I have a strong mechanical background, as my father owns Lemon Chasers Auto Repair in downtown Orlando, and he had taught me the ins and outs of automobiles when I was growing up,” Martin notes. “I knew I could do the mechanical work, but what about unlocking the PCM and tuning the car on a dyno after install? These things I did not know.”
After some additional research, Martin happened upon Gearhead Fabrications in Stuart, Florida, a shop which specializes in boosting modern Mopars. After setting the plans in motion with the shop, Martin was on his way to supercharged Valhalla. In addition to the 2.9-liter Whipple supercharger that the Charger was set to receive, Martin added Injector Dynamics 1050cc fuel injectors and fuel pressure regulator to the mix, along with a Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump.
“Then came the moment of truth: Dyno day,” Martin recalls. “I was sitting in a crappy hotel in Puerto Rico texting back and forth with the shop as they tuned the car. The final number came in at 644 rear-wheel horsepower! The smile that spread from one side of my face to the other felt like it should have been visible from space.”
The following day Martin was back in town, anxious to be reunited with his newly-boosted Mopar. “The drive home was amazing,” he says. “I was in a total state of euphoria I barely even remember it. All I remember is thinking “WOW – this car is amazing! And even better, this car is mine!””
I was sitting in a crappy hotel in Puerto Rico texting back and forth with the shop as they tuned the car. The final number came in at 644 rear-wheel horsepower! The smile that spread from one side of my face to the other felt like it should have been visible from space.
While Martin was understandably enthused about the newfound power, he wasn’t done wrenching on his boosted Mopar. With the addition of the Whipple unit under the hood, he decided to gussy up things in the engine bay as well, adding a Billet Technology dress-up kit that includes the radiator cap, dip stick, fuse box cover, washer fluid lid, and A/C cover. Adding a Speedlogix strut tower brace also brought a performance-focused look to the engine bay while improving chassis rigidity.
On the electronics front, Martin added a Tazer from Z Automotive as well. The device plugs into the Charger’s OBD II port and allows Martin to unlock a host of features that are normally off limits to Charger Daytona owners, like the SRT Performance Pages and additional drive mode settings, while also throwing in new features like “light shows” with the exterior lights, as well as previously locked away capabilities like the line lock function, which is normally only accessible in the Challenger SRT Demon.
“I also ordered a custom carbon fiber body kit form Chrome and Carbon based out of Dubai, but after waiting forever for it to get here it turned out to be the wrong kit,” Martin explains. “I am giving them the benefit of doubt, as I did rush them to get the kit to me so it could be installed with the supercharger. A new kit is being shipped now, and I really hope this one turns out to be the real deal.”
Like the its Challenger T/A 392 brethren, part of the Charger Daytona 392 package is the inclusion of the six-piston Brembo front brakes which were previously reserved for 2015+ SRT models. While it’s a potent package, the larger swept area also equates to more brake dust, which can make cleaning the wheels a near-constant chore. “Oh the stock brake pads work great, but the brake dust they create is ridiculous,” he says. “I have been cleaning my wheels ever few days, so on the shop’s advice I purchased some Power Stop carbon ceramic pads.”
The Road Ahead
As it turns out, Martin’s story doesn’t end there either. “Now it’s saving time again,” he told us a few weeks ago. “I’m already getting used to the power I have. Soon I will crave more. Then it will be time for some forged internals, a smaller pulley for the Whipple, and over one thousand horsepower.”
But it turns out that upgrade might be happening sooner than Martin had originally anticipated. “While showing the car to one of my sons who had not yet had a ride I broke the engine,” he tells us in an update. “Specifically, the bottom end. The engine is not yet out of the car but it appears a rod bolt broke. A new block is already being prepped. Final decisions have not yet been made but the engine will be fully forged with Manley rods and Diamond pistons.”
Martin says that the blower will be dialed up as well, and that the horsepower numbers may end up in four digit territory. It sounds like we should know sooner rather than later though, as he expects to have the Charger back on the road in February. Either way, we’re anxious to check out the next iteration of Martin’s supercharged Daytona.