Rod had the block bored .030 inches over and installed K/B hypereutectic pistons with 915 heads from Aerohead Racing. They installed 1.81/2.14-inch stainless steel valves with a three-angle valve job. Rod also used Total Seal rings, Comp Cam's XE268h cam and lifters, and Crane roller-tip rockers. He had 0.010 inch removed from the deck to yield a final compression ratio of 9.3:1. The transmission was rebuilt by Ken's Performance in Orlando and given a shift-improver kit and a deeper pan.

After all that, Nelms now has 389 hp under the hood and the pep he desires. As often as possible, he puts the top down and takes the Challenger for weekend drives. He even drives it to shows. Recently, it took First Place in the E-Body class at the Mopars with Big Daddy show and won a Dealer's Choice award at the Moparty in Orlando. "It went through a 10-year stretch when it was only driven a total of 300 miles, and now I drive it as much as possible," Rod says. "Everyone says I am crazy."

The estimated 2,500 hours of work Rod poured into this '70 Challenger are enough to drive a man plum crazy. The seats were stripped to the frames, blasted, and sprayed with POR-15 before new foam and white vinyl skins were applied. The grill and trim pieces had to be straightened, deanodized, polished, bright-dipped, and reanodized. The mirrors, bumpers, taillight, and marker-light bezels were all rechromed. Even the nuts and bolts were replated with black zinc, clear zinc, phosphating, or cad plating to look as original as possible.

The most visual component of the car that is not stock is the Sandin A/C compressor Rod installed from Classic Auto Air in Tampa. After all, this Challenger does reside in Florida. But Rod is not one who appreciates only the perfectly-restored.

"I'm not locked into [the realm of] pure resto," Rod says. "I enjoy all cars. In fact, I was looking for a convertible to modify before I found this one. I knew when I started this project I would be over-restoring it, but I take pride in having done [most of it] myself. I've already had offers, but now I don't see how I could part with it."