Shortly, Koby received another e-mail from Washington. “Success, the car is for sale.” The story that the guys were told, goes like this. In the early 1990s, Kenji Okazaki, the owner of Kennie’s Mopar Service, had a shop that catered to Japanese Mopar enthusiasts. In May of 1993 Kenji purchased the T/A from Shawn Brennan, and had it shipped to Japan. Kenji quickly sold the car to Atsushi Suga, the owner of a body shop near Kennie’s. A few years later, he then sold the car to Yuji Kondou. Yuji owned the car for about 16 years, and it was Yuji who registered the car on www.challengertaregistry.com. Eventually, Yuji sold the car back to Kennie’s, which was now under new ownership, where the car received a freshening and was again put up for sale.
Anyway, Koby contacted the new owner, Hiroshi Asakura immediately, and a few days later they agreed on a price for the Challenger. The rest of the story moves surprisingly quick. On January 21st, 2013 Koby, accompanied by his step-father Jerry Compton, his friend Tyler, and Tyler’s brother Jordan Loggains left for Japan. On January 22nd, for the first time in almost 25 years, his father’s Plum Crazy T/A was back in the family’s possession. It might have been across the ocean, but it was part of the Prater family once more.
Koby contacted Sea and Air Experts, Inc., to arrange for shipping, and Ron at Sea and Air took care of all necessary arrangements. On February 8th, 2013 the Challenger set sail, and then cleared customs in the U.S. on February 26th. Finally, after all those years of wondering where it was, on March 8th, Koby received the T/A from transport.
Some time later, Koby was talking with a vendor at a swap meet; the vendor had a small block Six Pack intake manifold, and Koby asked about the engine for the intake. The vendor didn’t have the block, but one of his friends did have a T/A 340 that he pulled from a green Ramcharger years prior. While Koby waited, the vendor called his friend and checked the serial number on the block -- it was a match. The block had machine work performed, and was waiting to be installed in another project -- a Vitamin C AAR ‘Cuda. Koby contacted the owner, who was sympathetic to his goals, and they made a deal to trade another T/A block and some cash for the Challenger’s original block.
With little time to spare before the Challenger’s “debut” at the 2013 Carlisle All-Chrysler Nationals, Koby contacted Wayne Smothers of Smothers Tuned Supercars to get the new (old) engine together and perform a quick swap. “The motor was a bare block on Thursday, one week before Carlisle,” Smothers reports. “I had it running on my test stand on Friday, and I was driving it Sunday morning.” Wayne delivered the Challenger to Koby on Monday, and on Tuesday, the car was loaded on a trailer for the trip to Pennsylvania.
Koby plans to complete this labor of love by honoring his father’s vision and restoring the few items on the car that are still not stock to original form. That being said, the white stripes have been well-received, working nicely with the white top and interior, and they might stay as is.
Regardless of how the Challenger finally ends up though, it’s not hard to picture Koby enjoying a drive and Jerry riding shotgun with an approving smile.
Check out moparmuscle.com for extra, unseen images of this great feature car.