The model year was 1970. If you were a dealer with a Dodge franchise in late 1969, the big performance news coming over the telex was not the Charger Daytona, which had debuted as a mid-year option in 1969 with limited street appeal for the masses, or the redesigned Dart lineup, or even the new 1970 Coronets. No, the big news was the debut of the Challenger, the first model created by Dodge to directly combat the Camaro, Firebird, and Mustang in terms of sales.
So it was at Reichert Dodge in Georgetown, Illinois. The sporty new "E"-class body was exciting, but the issue became the best way to present the Challenger to prospective buyers. As a dealer demo (coded Y13), the combination of parts was not always a matter of perfect balance or practicality. The idea was to take a car and load it up with as many features as possible so people looking to order similar models would see each option's benefit. The sales force at Reichert decided this example should get a lot of the little touches that would make Challenger's opening season a classic.
It would need to appeal to a broad spectrum of people, so, while the Hemi was king, the new 440 Six Pack wedge was a better street alternative. For paint, the latest HIP (High Impact Paint) colors would fit the bill; the choice here was Sub-Lime. With those two things decided, what else was available? Complementing the Sub-Lime paint was one of two stripe packages; the selected version was a long white horizontal band running down the side instead of a Scat Pack wrapper around the rear quarters and decklid.
Of course, ordering the R/T package meant the car got extra badging, but it also automatically received a heavy duty cooling package, larger drum brakes, a better suspension, and a tachometer in the Rallye dashboard. In terms of the driveline, the heavy-duty 727 Torqueflite was mated to a standard 3.54 ring in a SureGrip-equipped 831/44 rear. That accomplished, extra things could be added to make the car stand out from the crowd.
For instance, on the street, what was more interesting than the new Shaker hood scoop (code N96), which was bolted to the top of the three carbs and jutted through the hood? A set of hood pits would look just right, and rounding out the exterior appearance would be a white vinyl top, dual color-coded racing mirrors, rear bumper guards, wheel lip moldings, and a set of extra-cost 15x7 Rallye wheels shod with F60x14 Goodyear raised-white-letter rubber. Meanwhile, the suspension was upgraded with power steering, power front disc brakes, and the Hemi sway bar. To quell fears about the somewhat small trunk, the luggage rack code M91 was mounted to the deck lid.
Now for the interior. Complementing the white bucket seats would be a center console with shifter and the lower-half horn-ring steering wheel. The A01 light package was also added, while the factory radio benefited from a rear speaker with a dash-mounted adjuster. One thing that wasn't part of this example was the SE package, which would have further refined the car.
In the end, this Challenger was a special car, and its handful of owners all knew it. Today, owned by Tim and Rita Coffman of Fountain, Colorado, the Challenger shows just under 50,000 miles on the odometer. Nonetheless, as the fourth owner, Tim decided to do some upgrades so he could drive the car around on weekends and when he is home. He's a former Army Green Beret turned physician assistant for the Army, so sometimes duty calls him to faraway places.
The engine went to "doctor" Ed Vodipija, who rebuilt it using 11.5 compression KB slugs, a Mopar Performance camshaft, and some other heavy duty internals. The 906 heads were ported and port-matched to the intake by Cotty Hayes at Cylinder Head Plus. Nontheless, the mill looks bone stock from the outside, right down to the stock exhaust manifolds. Tim keeps a set of date-correct plug wires with him for the show circuit, using MSD wires for driving. An MSD6 ignition outfit is carefully tucked up under the dash and out of view.
The car retains between 85-90 percent of the parts it received as it rolled down the Hamtramck assembly line in April 1970. Most of the work Tim did during his two-year restoration was driveline related, as the previous owner had already done the body and interior detailing. Tim has every bit of paper on the car, including the build sheets, window sticker, dealer invoices and all subsequent titles, and has beat the bushes for the NOS parts that would make the car stand out at shows.
When we met up with the Coffmans at the Mopar Nationals, Rita had driven the trailered gem from Colorado to Columbus for the event, as Tim had again been called out on official business; he flew in to enjoy the event. Like we said, due to his work schedule, the car still stays in the garage a lot more than he would like. In fact, he was recently deployed again. We could tell you where, but then we would have to kill you.