4 James Zimmerman

Rosamond, CA
'70 Dodge Challenger


Unlike the other cars in this competition, James' Challenger was his daily driver. As an aircraft engine mechanic at Edwards Air Force Base, he felt right at home under the airborne splendor brought to us by the neighboring Nellis Air Force Base. He's owned the car since he was 16 and now, at the age of 24, the Challenger has gone from a $2,000 rust bucket to a proud GoMango show-stopper. Thanks to James' discipline, he was able to rebuild the car as he worked through high school. "Instead of your average gifts, I would receive sheetmetal for my birthday and Christmas," he tells us. For his graduation gift, his father had the car painted.

He did all the interior work himself. The seats were recovered with Legendary Auto Interiors covers, the new carpet and a headliner came from YearOne, and the dash was refurbished by Ultimate Rides in Texas. For the chassis, James put his mechanic skills to the test installing a set of SSBC Force 10 front brakes with slotted rotors and tubular upper and lower control arms from Firm Feel and Cap Auto, respectively. Edelbrock Performer IAS shocks dampen road imperfections to an impressive level while Summit Racing 1-inch drop rear leaf springs help deliver the stance he was looking for. To achieve the look, a set of American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels measuring 17x7 inches front and 17x9.5 were mounted. They're wrapped in BFGoodrich KDW 225/45R17 and 275/40R17 modern rubber. The bodywork and paint were done by Phoenix Automotive in California City, California.

A 318 originally found haven under the hood but, rather than spend his time and money building the smaller motor, he stepped up to a 360. "I chose the 360 because of the amount of torque they can produce and because you find more of them lying around than a 340," he says. Inside the 360 is a set of Speed Pro pistons, factory rods, and a factory crankshaft that were put together by Adams Metalizing in Lancaster, California. A Comp Cams .525/.525, 231/237 camshaft on a 110 LSA was slid inside and utilizes the better flow of the Edelbrock aluminum heads. An Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap intake and Holley 670 Street Avenger carburetor make up the intake side of the engine. For the exhaust, tti 15/8-inch small-block headers and a 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust evacuate the fumes. The car was converted to an MSD 6AL and uses a Super SS Coil and Pro Billet distributor. The oiling system is stock. Mike's Transmissions out of Palmdale, California, built James a 727 transmission with a 3,000-stall B&M converter.

When we discovered that James drove the car every day, we wanted to give him extra points! This car had some terrific paint and its on-road manners were smooth. At the track, his mid 13-second run kept him competitive with the top of the field.

5 Dan and Connie Campbell

Yucaipa, CA
'71 Plymouth 'Cuda


The car you see today is very different from the car that Dan remembers purchasing in 1993. According to Dan, he owned a 'Cuda back in high school but sold it in 1984 when he started his family. "I found [this one] at a car show as a stripped down racer with its original engine and transmission sitting beside it. Once I saw it, I knew I had to have it and couldn't resist." Dan made the deal and took the car home to begin the long restoration process back into a street car.

Gabe's Restoration in his hometown did the paint and bodywork to make its racing roots a thing of the past. Underneath, the car reverted stock with all new bushings and stock front and rear shocks. The steel wheels covering the front discs and rear drums wear 215/70R15 and 255/60R15 BFGoodrich radials. Revamping the interior, Upholstery in Motion, based in Redlands, California, started with a beaten racer and revived it using parts form Legendary and restored various pieces to like-new.

Johnson's Machine, also in Yucaipa, rebuilt the original 340 with Keith Black pistons and stock rods, crankshaft and stock cam. A set of aluminum Edelbrock heads and carburetor were thrown on to shave some weight from the nose and add a little more power. Dan then ordered a full tti exhaust system with 2-1/2-inch tubing and sent the automatic off to BodTrans in Redlanda, California, to be rebuilt. The ignition and oiling system are stock.