It’s no secret that we love the month of March, and not just because it means the spring racing season is kicking off. We also love March because it means we get to travel to Las Vegas for the annual Mopars at the Strip event, which is one of our favorites. There is plenty to do for everyone, with a huge car show, drag racing, and even an autocross sponsored by Hotchkis for those of us who like to carve the curves with our Mopars. Of course our favorite part of the event is the Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge, which combines racing, showing, and street driving to determine who has the best all-around Mopar at the event. And while we can’t tell you everything that happened in Vegas this year (we don’t want to risk getting fired or divorced), we will tell you that we had seven awesome Mopars in this year’s challenge. It was also one of the closest contests we’ve ever hosted.
The Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge has always been a fun, friendly competition, allowing car owners to compete with their Mopars, and determine who has the best all-around performance and show car in the contest. Each year we choose eight cars from the entries we get, and try to pick a variety of Mopars representing different body styles with an assortment of engine and transmission combinations. This year we had A-Bodies, B-Bodies, and one E-Body in our contest, featuring small-blocks, big-blocks, and one Hemi engine. There were several cars with four-speed transmissions and automatic equipped cars as well.
To judge the cars, we first fill them with pump gas at the station across the street from The Strip at Las Vegas, and take them on a 20-mile drive, where they are judged on road manners, ride quality, exterior noise, and the functioning of all of the equipment in each car. Back at the track, we judge the cars as if they were in a car show, awarding points based on the paint, trim, interior, engine bay, and overall fit and finish. Once the driving and show judging portions are complete, each car owner gets to show off the performance of his or her vehicle on the dragstrip.
The dragstrip portion isn’t a race with eliminations, but rather judged time trials to show the performance of each vehicle. Each entrant in the contest gets two passes down the dragstrip, and we factor each car’s best elapsed time along with the show judging and street judging to develop a composite score for each vehicle. The car with the highest score is the official winner of the competition. Of course, our readers benefit from the competition as well, as they get to see firsthand how eight different Mopars (actually seven this year) perform during the Challenge.
We had great weather for this year’s contest, with plenty of sunshine and cool temperatures on Saturday when the cars made their passes down the dragstrip. We were impressed with each of the cars in the 2013 True Street Challenge, and the final judging proved this to be a very close contest. The top two cars in the competition were nearly too close to call, but when the scores were added up Tim Spangler won this year’s Challenge with his black on black ’68 Dodge Hemi Charger. We think you’ll like Tim’s car as well as the rest of this year’s True Street Mopars, and encourage you to submit an entry to be in next year’s event. Mopars at the Strip is a blast, and we hope to see you and your Mopar there in 2014.
’68 Dodge Charger
The ’68 Dodge Charger is likely the second most recognizable Mopar next to the ’69 version made famous by the The Dukes of Hazzard television show, and Tim Spangler readily admits that his ’68 was more than a little inspired by the Hollywood movie Bullitt. In fact, Tim’s teenage daughter is a fan of the movie, and knows exactly where to fast-forward the disc to get to the famous chase scene. Tim has owned his Charger for 11 years, but didn’t begin working on it until several years after purchasing the rust-free body. With some help from his friend Pat Derieg of Tamerlane Performance, Tim spent six years transforming the Charger into what it is today, a Hemi, four-speed, R/T clone car.
Leaving the body of this Charger stock, Tim decided to treat the suspension to a full rebuild with polyurethane bushings, Hemi rear springs, and Calvert Racing CalTrac bars. QA1 adjustable shocks were used on all four corners, and a Dana 60 differential was installed with a Sure Grip and 3.54 gears. The bodywork was performed by Chuck Rumschlag at The Cobra Works, and Chuck also applied the flawless black paint. Magnum 500 wheels all the way around completed the look, and the interior was refurbished to stock specs in black. Under the hood, Tim trusted Indy Cylinder Head to build a 572-inch Hemi for his Charger, and backed it up with an 833 four-speed transmission.
During our contest, Tim’s car drove flawlessly, and turned heads wherever we went. The paint job on this car is incredible, and performance on the track was good considering this Charger tips the scales at nearly 4,000 pounds. After having to replace the clutch at the last minute before leaving Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Vegas, Tim was happy to make it to the event, let alone win the contest. Several of the True Street cars were in contention, but Tim’s best elapsed time of 11.85 seconds sealed the deal and landed him the win. We congratulate Tim for winning the 2013 Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge and look forward to seeing the car at future events. Maybe Tim will let his daughter drive the Charger, as she wants to race one of her friends in their dad’s cars!
Dave Mitton and Tom Feit
’70 Plymouth Superbird
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw that one of the applications was for a Superbird, but hey, if the owner (or owners, in this case) is willing to enter it, we are willing to put it through its paces. This ’70 winged warrior is co-owned by business partners Tom Feit and Dave Mitton, from Lindon, Utah, who shared the expenses of the purchase and extensive restoration. This car has a cool story, and is number 1,000 on the NASCAR registry of Plymouth Superbirds. Tom and Dave purchased the car from Dick Dorsey of Dorsey Dodge in Prattville, Alabama, and Dave performed much of the three-year restoration himself.
Equipped with the numbers-matching engine, transmission, and rear end, Dave and Tom elected to restore this rare Superbird to a factory appearance, with subtle modifications made to the engine in the name of durability and performance. The body of the car was painted in PPG base/clear FY1 yellow by Kim Frederick, and the interior was restored with components from Legendary Auto Interiors. The chassis, automatic transmission, and 3.55 geared 83⁄4 differential are also all stock, to maintain the originality of the car, but a TCI 2,800 rpm stall converter was installed to help the car leave the line better. When it came to the engine, Dave and Tom entrusted Steve Flatt to install lightweight components in the numbers-matching block, which was bored .030-inch over. A custom ground Comp Cams camshaft was installed, and the factory heads were ported and polished by hand. A full tti exhaust was installed from the factory manifolds to the rear of the car.
As the photos show, this Superbird is superbly restored, and was the winner of the judged show portion of our contest. On the track, Dave Mitton drove the Superbird to a best elapsed time of 13.67 seconds, at over 100 mph, landing a second place finish in the True Street Challenge. We were impressed at how hard Dave was willing to drive this car, as he took a few laps around the Hotchkis autocross and bolted slicks on the Superbird on Sunday, running a 12-second elapsed time. We congratulate Dave on his finish, and look forward to seeing Dave and Tom on this year’s Hot Rod Power Tour.