Cars play a different role for every person. Some are treated as tools to use like machines. Some are treated like gems and serve little purpose except to look shiny and create envy. Others are treated like, well, like trash, beat upon until their final resting place is at the bottom of a pile of crushed sedans in the scrap yard. Finally, some, like the '72 Challenger here, are like friends.
Dennis Garber of New Holland, Pennsyl-vania, has been a Chrysler fan since he obtained his driver's license. His first car was a two-door '69 Fury III, but when he turned 21, he decided the big C-Body was too much, so he sought a more sporty replacement-a 340-powered '72 Challenger Rallye. In 1976 when this transaction occurred, musclecars were still fairly abundant and this particular example was no exception in that regard. For the next eight years, Dennis drove the car on the roads of the Keystone State. Given the destructive road salt and the snow in that area, by 1984 it was time to bring the car back to life.
Dennis is a certified Chrysler auto technician, having wrenched on Mopars for a living since he finished high school in 1972. The car went to Styler's Auto Body in Churchtown, Pennsylvania, where it was repainted, but not before Dennis worked on it to get it ready. This included adding a complete Shaker outfit from an earlier model, back when these parts were available. Since there were no ready-made packages for such a change, he did all the work himself, grafting the scoop to a flat '72 hood. Styler's then repainted the car B5 Blue and reapplied the Rallye package trim that'd come on the car from the factory.
The '72 340 gets little respect due to its lower compression ratio than earlier versions, but Dennis decided to fix that as well. The engine bay looks pretty mild with the Shaker scoop off the blueprinted ThermoQuad, but inside it's a different story. After Ruhl's Automotive in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, prepped the block and the parts, a new breed filled the engine bay. A set of W2 heads are atop the bores now, port-matched to a Weiand Action Plus intake. A solid-lifter Mopar Performance cam went into the center, while compression was bumped up to 10.5:1 from the factory's anemic 8.5:1 ratio. Fire chores are handled by the stock electronic ignition assisted by a Jacobs outfit, which Dennis says is a great system. Hooker headers round out the package.
With the high price of gas, Dennis looked at the rest of the driveline. The car is a four-speed model, but it now has an A-833 overdrive crashbox, still activated by the original Hurst Pistol Grip between the bucket seats, while the 3.55 Sure Grip outfit remains in the 831/44 rearend. A set of Rallye rims (15x6 up front and 15x8 out back) are shod with nondescript blackwall radial tires. The interior is refinished in factory black with extra trim. An aftermarket stereo system and CB outfit rounds out the package.
Today, the Challenger doesn't get much time in the snow and, frankly, we understand. However, Dennis attends a handful of shows each year with the E-Body, including the Northeast Hemi Owners' Association show where we saw it. In fact, he's been to many of this group's events, which is ironic because 2001 marked their 25th anniversary as well. At any rate, Dennis takes good care of his old buddy these days, making sure everything is up to par.
After all, what are friends for?