Harrington, Delaware, resident Tony D'Agostino is one lucky guy. After all, his job is operating Tony's Parts, a large N.O.S./pre-owned Mopar-only parts business, so he gets to play with all kinds of cool stuff. Now Tony's personal passions are those machines that he doesn't need to add a lot of his "stock" to. Tony likes to collect survivors. He earns the dubious distinction of having two feature cars in this month's issue of Mopar Muscle. One is the Superbird he let Stunkard drive (what a glutton for punishment) and the other is the '70 Challenger convertible you see here.
The story began when his friend Jim Penta (with a last name like that, he must be a Mopar guy) was talking to Tony one day and mentioned he had a car for sale. Being a good guy, Tony figured he could help Jim sell it due to his connections in the hobby; the car didn't really interest Tony himself because, as he puts it, "I'm not a fan of green." However, he is a fan of unmolested muscle, and the more he thought about it, the more he realized that his tastes could indeed be altered for this car. After thinking about it for a couple of hours, Tony changed his mind.
"I called Jim back about three hours after our first conversation and told him, 'I'm not really crazy about green, but the condition of the car and the fact that it's a big-block four-speed convertible overshadows that fact, so I'll take it myself.'" Jim knew the type of care the first-year E-Body would receive, and he had no problem selling it to Tony.
Even if not a survivor, the car would be an interesting find. It's 1 of only 149 '70 Dodge Challenger 383/four-speed R/T convertibles built that year. Moreover, it had been babied its entire existence. Now showing 55,000 miles on the odometer, the Dodge has changed very little since it came down the assembly line.
If you notice a few flaws in the overall appearance of the car while looking at these photos, you can move to the head of our Survivor 101 class. Every inch of the EF8 Dark Green Metallic paint was applied on the assembly line at the Dodge plant, except the bottom part of the driver door. That spot was repaired after a previous owner vented his frustrations with his foot (guess that Hemicuda that blew him off was just a little more than he could take). Still, this particular example may have indeed been a Monday morning hangover or Friday afternoon rush job. As one begins to look the car over, Tony points out a few things. Take, for instance, the weatherstripping on the driver-side rear window. Tony noticed it was sticking up, so he was going to put a new screw in the missing spot. Upon closer examination, there was a reason that screw wasn't in there: The hole for the screw was never drilled! If you notice the picture of the trunk compartment, the mounting points for the spare tire and jack were never welded in place either. For you experts out there who really know your stuff, the grille may also look wrong; isn't it true that in 1970 all R/Ts came with a black grille instead of the Argent gray version? Not this one. Likewise, the taillight panel should also be black, but isn't. Like we said, it's hard to focus on a "Stormy Monday" (with apologies to T-Bone Walker and the Allman Brothers).
Under the bonnet is a basically unchanged 383/335 HP engine, the standard basic mill for the R/T. This is still sporting the original single-point distributor, the factory's briefly assigned four-barrel Holley carburetor, and those clunky factory manifolds and exhaust. Although Tony went through the motor and replaced the rings, bearings, and gaskets, he used all of the original hardware and carefully put everything back together. The 833 crashbox is unchanged, rowed by the console-filling Hurst Pistol Grip and sending the horses to the 831/44-inch rear (which has the OEM 3.23 gearset with the cone-style Sure Grip).
The interior has also not been restored and sports the black vinyl bucket seats perched behind the mucho-scarce Rim Blow steering wheel, while the factory AM/FM radio still sends the tunes to the three-speaker dash. At one time, someone replaced the carpet using the wrong style, so Tony did correct that with the right stuff.
Finally, notice the Goodyear Polyglas tires? Well, they're real McCoy rubber, still mounted on the stock wheels with full wheel covers. Other than the motor freshening, the only other changes Tony made were the perishable items like the hoses, the battery cables, and some other minute details.
There are times when people restore cars that are almost as original as this one, and frankly, a restoration would give reason to correct some of those errors seen on this emerald beauty. However, we agree with Tony that this is one uncut diamond in the rough that gives a great picture of what cars were like from the old days...even if it was built on a Monday morning!