The 318 wasn't enough to excite Dana. He decided the convertible would be an excellent hom
Once the convertible was in the garage he knew it was time to get started. The first thing on the list was to pull the 318 and transmission. Then while lying on his back, under the car, with a wire wheel and sandpaper, Dana cleaned the underside before spraying it and the engine compartment Citron Yella. Once the paint was sprayed in the engine compartment, he enlisted his good friend, Jeff Herbon, to assist him in rebuilding his 440 he took from his Road Runner so many years ago. They kept it stock looking on the outside, aside from the 8-quart oil pan. "When you start it and hear the 12:1 compression breathing through the 2 1/2-inch stainless TTi exhaust, it's incredible." Dana gutted the factory resonators to achieve a factory appearance, but wanted the Dynomax sound connected to the factory tips. "It turned out to be a lot of motor for the convertible, but with air conditioning, it's a blast," he says. Ron Mancini of Mancini Racing rebuilt the TorqueFlite and installed a 2,500-stall converter and a Cheetah valve body with a reverse shift pattern. After he and Julie, his fiancé at the time, put the drivetrain together, the Challenger was sent to Dave Reins at Action Collision and Restoration for fresh paint.
The black interior was taken from a donor car because Dana didn't think the white interior
This is when life made an impact on the project. Dana and his father were building the younger Motes' new home, while Julie was busy planning the wedding. He had most of the parts to finish the car, but he didn't have the time or money to deal with it at that point. Then his father was diagnosed with cancer in 1995 so he stepped up to take care of him and his home. By the time he got around to begin working on the Challenger again it was 1998 and his wife became pregnant with their son, Wendle.
He now realized that it was time to become a mentor to his son as his father was to him. Sadly, his father lost his battle with cancer about a year later and he kept his promise to take care of his mother and their home. Dana decided that there was no greater way to impact his son's life than in one of the same ways his father did for him, and that started in the garage. Wendle was only five but he enthusiastically joined in.
One of the biggest details Dana was concerned with when building the Challenger was that i
In 2004 Dana made a gentleman's bet with his buddies that he would drive the car in the 2005 Woodward Dream Cruise. They didn't even begin to put it together until about three months before the Cruise, but they were able to finish it the day before, detailing the car that morning. After driving the car and getting the well-deserved thumbs up and stopping people in their tracks, the addiction was back. As fate would have it, this didn't last for long. The paint was marred in a garage accident that caused him to feel "nauseous for a few months." The paint was a 17-year-old lacquer job that couldn't be replicated.
After taking a few TUMS, he uncovered the Challenger and disassembled it to be painted again. This time around he used a modern base coat clear coat system from PPG. The original taillight panel, bumpers, and chrome were put back on along with a new top and Rallye cluster from Year One. It was finished in time for the 2006 Woodward Dream Cruise. After talking with Jack Irons from Unlawful Racing, he decided to take the car to the 2008 Mopar Nationals. He was invited to display his drop-top Challenger at Mopar's New Challenger display and again the following weekend at the 2008 Woodward Dream Cruise. His wife now calls the car "The King" and his son loves it when the pedal hits the floor. "Wendle wants to build a Demon when he gets older," he says. (Future Young Gun?) Dana has come to fully appreciate the time and the story that a project build can bring. In telling the story of this car, you can also tell the story of his family and his life. Long live the King.