You have to admire a company with slogans like "Performance spoken fluently," "Friends don't let friends drive stock" and "Progress through ingenuity."
Ripp Modifications, a performance shop located in Staten Island, N.Y., built a good clientele base with first- and second-generation AWD Diamond Stars. When Mitsubishi went V6 FWD, the performance parade came to a quick stop. But things didn't dry up completely.
Ripp looked into turbocharging the 3-g Eclipse, but the extensive nature of the modifications made a kit too expensive. One customer, though, had to have turbo boost so Ripp worked its magic. When finished, the car appeared on the Club 3G website, creating a buzz among owners of third-gen Eclipses and the second-gen Stratus, which share the 6G72 V6. Ripp, in turn, dreamed up a supercharger package that provided the boost, was more cost effective and easier to install.
In January 2002, a customer with a 2001 Dodge Stratus R/T approached Ripp about the blower set-up and Ripp made the dream a reality.
Ripp's Ross Esposito conceptualized a complete tuner car in the mold of a Saleen Mustang. Ripp would address every performance system to illustrate all the possibilities to potential customers with the intention of setting up a program where a stock R/T is dropped off and a Ripp Limited Edition GTS is picked up.
Ripp contacted Wiseco Pistons to build custom 6G72 pistons. Having studied and found design flaws in the stock pistons, Ripp sent Endyn a test piston along with one of its heads to make certain changes. These efforts resulted in three different forged designs: a low-compression 8.5:1 for high boost levels; a stock-compression 9.0:1 slug specifically for the blower system, and a 10.8:1 normally aspirated high-compression set.
For rods, Ripp contacted Brian Crower, who was able to build a set of rods that weren't too heavy but were still strong enough to handle a healthy dose of boost.
The last reciprocating component, the crank, was delivered to long-time engine machinist Pete Yacca of New York Speed and Machine. He was very impressed with the size and quality of the factory crank, stating specifically that it was internally balanced, thus making it an excellent candidate for high-revving power. The crank was balanced to speeds in excess of 13,000 rpm.
The short block was assembled by Ross' father, Angelo Esposito, who diligently maintained close tolerances throughout the bottom end.
At this point, Ripp technicians and long-time Mopar fans Mark Edwards and Carmine Lopardo took over the buildup. They modified the oil pump to make 10 psi more pressure, which would ensure proper lubrication.
With the short block ready to roll, Ripp turned its attention to the cylinder heads. Ripp measured rod angles, crank material, and head flow and was very pleased with the results. "We were impressed with the stock heads," says Ripp's Russ Esposito. "We were able to work with an impressive 8mm of port expansion on the exhaust side. Along with a five angle parabolic valve grind and significant polishing work, Ripp Modifications turned the heads from simple air movers to massive air flowers. Based on just the flow chart numbers, we knew this was heading in the right direction," says Esposito.
The Supercharger Drive System (SDS) was originally designed to be a one-off piece, but based on client support, Ripp Modifications decided to manufacture it in kit form. The SDS utilizes 6061 aluminum drive housing with a 3031 chrome-moly driveshaft and super high-speed, low-resistance ball bearings on each side. Many key features of the production-spec SDS will be CNC designed and CNC machined and fully TIG welded. Hardened stainless hardware, hard oil return and feed lines and brass fittings will also be employed.
The blower on the development car is a Vortech V2 S-trim, but Ripp and Vortech are working to configure a V5 G-trim model specifically for the 3.0-liter V6. Ripp expects the stock fuel system to support 4-5 psi, but has yet to test this theory out. The built 6G72 runs upgraded RC Engineering injectors, a Walboro fuel pump and a fuel pressure regulator supplied by RC Engineering. An HKS AFR oversees the fueling of the V6 while an MSD 6AL BTM controls timing.
Ripp's development car boosts to 9 psi and an HKS bypass valve has been incorporated to relieve pressure between shifts.
The blower system's piping consists of 3-inch polished aluminum with Ripp Modifications' proprietary super-blue five-ply connections giving it a quality look. The centrifugal blower impressed on Bullish Motor Racing's dyno pounding out 335.8 wheel hp and 231 lbs-ft of torque with no intercooler/aftercooler.
Also part of the power equation is a downpipe from the After Market Super Store (AMSS). The downpipe, which incorporates a high-flow cat, made 27 whp on a stock 6G72.
"We knew this kind of power would toast the stock clutch in short order," says Esposito. "We contacted Clutch Masters, a long-time sponsor of Team Ripp and our former 9-second Integra racecar. We worked closely with Chris Jewel, owner of Clutch Masters, to get the perfect feeling and reacting clutch. The result is a Stage 4 unit utilizing ceramics and carbon-fiber materials on a Stinted Iron Plate, and a 30-percent stiffer clutch pedal. It holds the power and the pedal feel is a perfect balance between Race and GT."
Ripp knew footwork would be the difference between a muscle-bound brute and a refined, limited-edition style vehicle. "In stock form, the suspension was up to par for comfortable day-to-day commuting," adds Esposito. "In general, it was responsive, but needed tightening for better cornering. Its weight transfer wasn't right. We decided to go to a coil-over system. There were no kits available on the market, so we hired Ground Control to develop a kit. We plugged in the variables we wanted for the kit and chose Koni Yellow for the front and a fast-reacting KYB AGX for the rear. We lowered the car more than 2 inches, and after some time on the track, we knew they had a winning combination."
"The beauty is that the consumer can dial in the ride height he feels comfortable with," Esposito continues. "A Suspension Techniques anti-roll bar was installed in the rear to keep the follow through weight transfer in check. The result was both a neutral handling car that can drift through corners like in Japanese drift videos, as well as a car you can confidently take to a weekend at Watkins Glen or Lime Rock. The ride remains comfortable, is soft enough for long trips and is more GT-like."
Stopping power was addressed with a Stoptech front kit featuring Stoptech's self-designed cross-drilled and vented 13-inch rotors and aluminum hub hats, which reduce weight. The kit includes four-piston aluminum calipers which provide ferocious clamping force. The bottom line is the Stoptech set-up, although larger in size than the R/T's stock castings, is nearly 50-percent lighter. The rear was upgraded with AEM 11-inch rotors and AEM stock caliper relocation brackets. Of course, stainless-steel brake lines replaced all the stock lines to give the pedal a better feel.
To complete the "package look" the interior and exterior were freshened. Sparco Torino seats were incorporated to give the R/T a more upscale, GT feel. Factory seat belts were retained in keeping with the "off the assembly line" look and feel. Adjustable electroluminescent white-face gauges adorn the dash, along with Auto Meter readouts to keep an eye on vital engine functions.
Aesthetically, Ripp's Cody Nelson gave the car a more aggressive look by debadging the Dodge Stratus R/T and renaming it with GTS emblems sourced from a Viper GTS. The rear lights were spray tinted, a process Ripp Modifications offers in-house, and a $6,000 HID head lighting system was incorporated, along with a custom mesh grille treatment at the nose.
We aren't sure if the Stratus R/T will be accepted like a Saleen Mustang. But there's no doubt Ripp is doing it right. It's a no-lose situation if the lofty, limited edition aspirations fall short Ripp has illustrated the performance possibilities of the 6G72; and 335 wheel hp will appeal to plenty of Stratus/Eclipse owners.