Way back in 1984, Martin St. Pierre finally decided to flag down the guy who drove through his small town outside of Louisville, Kentucky, everyday in a red '73 Challenger. You see, Martin just loved the way the car looked and had to have it. So, he approached the gentleman, asked if he would sell, agreed on a price, and took delivery of one of the last of a dying breed. Little did he know he was getting an unmolested musclecar, sporting its original engine, trans, rearend, and all of the original sheetmetal.
In 1995, Martin and wife Debra moved to Danville, Kentucky, about 80 miles from their hometown. Then in late 1996, after years of accumulating parts, Martin decided to dive in and complete the restoration of this 81,000-mile E-Body. The plan was to upgrade a little, where possible, while maintaining the original styling of Ma Mopar. The original sheetmetal was painted Viper Red. Martin and Debra restored the interior to like-new condition with new carpet, and upgraded the seats to a sportier look using Legendary Auto Interiors. Super TUFF Performance was recruited to properly restore an original Tuff Wheel to finish the look. The tunes are piped in via an in-dash, six-speaker Blaupunkt am/fm cassette deck with a 150-watt amplifier tucked under the passenger seat.
Turning his attention to the original drivetrain, Martin decided to add a few needed upgrades here as well. The 340 block was bored .030 over, then came a Mopar Performance cam, and a set of TRW forged pistons. The heads received stainless steel 2.02/1.60 valves, and then were treated to a port match and polish. It was all topped with an Edelbrock intake and Carter carb. Firing the combustion is a Mopar Performance electronic ignition system bolstered by an MSD Blaster coil and a set of Accel custom plug wires. The spent fumes exit the motor through a set of early Chrysler hi-po exhaust manifolds. Accurate Exhausts built the 211/44-inch dual system, finished off by original Challenger Rallye tips. The original 727 transmission was treated to a rebuild and a shift kit, and the 3:23 Sure Grip was left in service. A set of 15x8 Wheel Vintique Rallye rims and 265/50-15 Remington radials take up residence at the corners and hold everything steady. Martin again called on Super TUFF Performance to supply the factory-looking, high-performance anti-roll bars, constructed of heat-treated alloy steel and black powder-coat finished. You have to look close to notice, that although they look factory installed, Mopar never made a 1.125-inch-diameter front bar and a 1-inch-diameter rear bar. To firm up the steering, Steer and Gear rebuilt the power-steering box.
It took 4 years, but by early 2000 Martin had finished restifying his Challenger. One day at a local car show, a man with a big grin on his face approached Martin claiming to be the original owner. Martin had heard this line before and was skeptical, until the man identified a flaw in one of the car's doors he couldn't possibly know about unless he had been intimate with the car. It turns out he really was the original owner. the kicker is, it was purchased from a long-since-closed Chrysler dealer in-of all places-Danville, Kentucky, where Martin currently resides. Was it determination that brought this '73 Challenger into Martin's life, or was the Challenger simply coming home?