A Perfect 10
Placing a close second in this year's challenge is Alex Baker's '70 Dodge Challenger. Alex found this Challenger in rough shape at the 2000 Spring Fling show, and actually passed it by twice before his wife convinced him to buy it. The Slant Six-equipped Challenger was complete, but suffered some pretty severe rust around the rear window and trunk. Alex initially opted to replace the engine and transmission with units from a Dart he already had, getting his project on the road in primer. About a year later, he struck a deal with a friend who completed the body work and applied the Plum Crazy paint job. Though looking like a stock 318 or 383 car, this potent machine blasted a 10.96 in the quarter-mile at over 125 mph to set the low elapsed time in our challenge. To achieve this goal Alex utilized big-block power and a "small shot" of nitrous oxide. A .060 over 440 with a 4-inch stroke and a semi-pump gas friendly 11:1 compression ratio, combined with box stock Edelbrock heads, makes this a reliable, potent combination. Stating that street manners were important, Alex installed a relatively mild cam in this engine and combined it with a reworked TorqueFlite, 11-inch converter, and 3.23 gears, which allows his Challenger to see many miles of comfortable street use. Hooker headers and Magnaflow mufflers give the car a throaty, but subtle, exhaust note. The idle is amazingly smooth for a car with a ten-second potential, which adds to the elusiveness of this combination.

When it came time to refurbish the interior of his Challenger, Alex opted for a stock look. The factory bucket seats were recovered, and a new carpet and headliner were installed. Rather than clutter the instrument panel with aftermarket gauges, Alex chose to spend his time getting the factory units working properly. Building the car as a stock-appearing "sleeper" has made the car even more fun for Alex and his wife. Countless stoplight opponents have been surprised when this stock-appearing car shows them its taillights. At car shows he is frequently asked whether the car is a 318 or 383; his answer of "meet me at the track" only keeps them guessing.