I purchased this '70 Challenger R/T in 1994 in Minneapolis. A lady who lived in Fargo, North Dakota, purchased it new in 1970. During the summer of 1994, I rebuilt the engine and transmission. in 1996, I rebuilt the Dana 60 rear axle and installed 3.54 gears in it. It originally had the Super Trak Pac option with 4.10 gears, and I didn't like the high rpm it would turn on the highway. One day in 1995, while I was racing my buddy in his '68 barracuda, I wound up going into a ditch at about 110 mph, and the front end nosed into the far side of the ditch. This in turn spun the car four times, and bent the front bumper and frame. Luckily, the ditch was very wide and fairly shallow, and I didn't roll the car over. The wreck broke both motor mounts, smashed both headers, the front valence panel was completely smashed in, and I broke the transmission mount and completely demolished my shifter linkage so that it was stuck in fourth gear. It's a testament to the awesome power of the 440 engine that I was able to pull myself up out of that ditch in fourth gear alone, and get down the road to a gas station where I was able to call a tow truck.
By 1997, the body was in bad shape. The body was completely rusted, especially the trunk and floor pans. Many of the spot welds that hold the inner fenders to the shock towers were broken, and there was a lot of flex in the body's front end. The nicest thing about the car at that time was the interior, which, aside from the carpet and headliner, was still in pretty good shape. The car was originally painted Top Banana Yellow from the factory, and whoever painted it black did not even bother to strip the yellow paint off first, they just painted over it. As a result, you could see yellow paint showing through everywhere there was a chip in the black.
Since the restoration would now require massive sheetmetal and bodywork, I started searching for a good body shop. I met Dennis and Sean Duke of Warsaw, Missouri. They run a small business called Duke's Body Shop. All the sheetmetal that needed to be replaced was. This includes the rear quarters, inner front fenders, trunk floor, and the front and rear floor pans. When the body was completely repaired, it was covered in Plum Crazy Purple.
In the latter months of 2000, I began entertaining the idea of installing an overdrive in the Challenger. I had already rebuilt the Dana 60 and replaced the 4.10 gears with 3.54 gears, but still wasn't happy with the high-rpm highway cruising. I researched several options, and the best one available in early 2001 was a new overdrive from Gear Vendors. However, Gear Vendors would not have the new overdrive for the A-833 ready until roughly January 2002. In the meantime, I discovered (in early December 2001) Keisler's new five-speed kit for E-Body Mopars. I received the new transmission, and after I completed the install in March 2002, I started the next big project for the Challenger.