Call them restomods, restifications, or techno-modified street machines, the craze of incorporating newfangled technology into classic domestic iron sure is popular these days. trick hand-fabricated suspensions, fuel-injected engines, luxury interior accommodations-power seats, climate control, CD/DVD players, LCD screens, Sony Playstations, self-programming lumbar support-and exotic materials like carbon fiber, titanium alloys, and rich Corinthian leather, all of which takes the untamed musclecar and throws it out the window. The reverberation of uncorked exhaust mingled with the smell of aged black vinyl has been replaced with smooth, sound-deadened interiors with a bevy of surround-sound speakers and crisp air-conditioned air breezing through the factory vents. Rough and jittery suspensions, characteristic of these aged machines, have been updated with rigid supports, lighter materials, and firmer joints that eliminate yaw, body roll, and the all-too-familiar creaks and groans associated with these cars.
John Balow's shop, Muscle Car Restorations (MCR) in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, was responsible for turning Editor Bolig's drab army-green Valiant into the arrow-straight, eye-blindingly white A-Body it is today. They also have had many of their clients' Mopars featured in our pages, including a pair of Super Stock A-Body clones, outstanding street cruisers, and some of the most perfect concourse-grade restorations we've ever seen. So when John came up to us at the SEMA show in Las Vegas with this wild concept, he had our attention.
Hired by famed NHRA Funny Car driver Dean Skuza to build this wild car, John contacted some of the biggest players in the Mopar musclecar marketplace, including Year One, Mopar Performance, TCI, FAST, and Stainless Steel Brakes. Dean wanted his one-of-definitely-none Mopar to be a Challenger or 'Cuda, as their sleek styling and aggressive stance made for some of the most iconic musclecars to emerge over the years.
A donor Challenger was found, and MCR quickly skinned the E-Body of its quarters; the rest of the car was stripped of all paint, primer, and filler. The metal work was so extensive the Challenger ended up being nearly half new as much as it was original tin. Mounted to a rotisserie, the E-Body was hoisted up in the air and attended to by MCR's best bodymen. Straight and smooth, the musclecar-on-a-spit was wheeled into the paint booth where several layers of thick primer were coated onto every inch of the bare body. PPG answered the call and provided plenty of original EV2 Hemi Orange. MCR dedicated hours to painting every inch perfectly, including the undercarriage and wheelwells. Once cured and wet-sanded, the body was taken to their assembly wing where the front suspension was installed.
From the inception, John and Dean had conceptualized a modern 5.7-liter pounding out close to 400 hp. Dean also thought the antiquated K-member and torsion bar suspension wouldn't cut the mustard, so MagnumForce was contacted to provide a full tubular engine cradle. Married to a Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion, the new chrome-moly tubular K-frame utilized new lightweight upper-and-lower control arms, heavy-duty sway bars, and coilover springs and shocks provided by QA1. With a fully customized engine cradle in place, the next-generation Hemi fits in snuggly. Stainless Works custom fabricated a pair of polished stainless steel headers that run down to a T/A-style, side-exit exhaust system provided by Year One.
Yet, the new Hemi wasn't just pulled from the crate and plopped in under the fiberglass hood. FAST (Fuel Air Spark Technology) created a totally one-off fuel-management system utilizing their XFI technology. John says, "Installing a late-model, computer-controlled engine in an older car is nothing new. FAST came to our rescue with their first complete system for the 5.7 Hemi. This system uses all the factory sensors, while allowing this system to remain fully tunable to the point that Dean can even program up to four preset tuning levels that can each be optimized for different conditions (cruising, racing, mileage, and so on) and can be controlled from a switch on the dash. Maybe best of all, and unlike the factory computer, the FAST system does not impose any torque limitations on this engine so Dean will realize the full potential of his Hemi."
A custom wire loom was woven, and a special throttle body and computer controller was designed. With a monster air-filter element, the free-flowing Hemi now punches out near SRT-8, 6.1-liter numbers with little effort. Since the powerplant is only as good as its transmission, TCI pulled out the stops with their super-stout TorqueFlite. With a special bellhousing mated up to the new Hemi, the 727 sports a 2,500-stall torque converter that is controlled by a stock-style Slap Stick automatic shifter.
Full Auto Meter instrumentation rests in the carbon-fiber gauge bezel. Keeping tabs on eve
All that power needs to come to a stop at some point, so new brakes were required. John says, "Now there's no way that a speed lover like Dean would ever be content with the performance of the stock disc/drum brake setup, let alone what they would look like through the five-spoke Weld wheels, so high-performance disc brakes from Stainless Steel Brakes were bolted on all the way around. Both front and rear lightweight aluminum calipers are of a four-piston design with an extra mechanical parking brake added in the rear. All four vented rotors are 1111/44 inches. With the additional discs in back and the ability to tweak the proportioning valve, he should be able to stop nearly as fast as he can start."
The rearend is just as high-tech and state-of-the-art with a Dana 60 with an ARB air-locker system. Originally intended for use by extreme four-wheelers, Dean can simply flip a switch from the driver seat and, in a moment, convert his open differential, which is more suited for twisted back roads, into a spool that will ensure he leaves nothing at the line. A small air compressor in the trunk supplies pressure to move a locking ring inside the differential that stops the wheels from free-wheeling independently; turning the pump off returns the rearend back to an open configuration. As an added bonus, the pump can even be used to reinflate a tire.
The interior required its fair share of customization and hand-made fabrication too. a carbon-fiber dashpad, gauge cluster, and center console insert were fabricated, along with a one-off rear wing. The end result features Dean's E-Body moniker "Skuza T/A" scribed on the dashpad in almost factory-appearing perfection. all the Auto meter instrumentation makes the dash look more like a jet aircraft than a mere land-dwelling Mopar. John also had his company's "MCR" initials etched into the SSBC master cylinder lid and on each of the four calipers. The tall back buckets were custom wrapped in black leather to match the Legendary Interiors' carpet and Grant steering wheel.
Impressive all the way around, this T/A restomod is no regular pretty-boy concept machine, but a tried-and-true, driven street monster that proves the new Hemi belongs as much under the hood of classic Mopar iron as it does on the new rides.
Fast Facts: '70 Dodge Challenger T/A
Dean Skuza . Broadview Heights, OH
Engine: An '03 truck-grade 5.7-liter Hemi rests comfortably between the inner fenders. A custom pair of Stainless Works stainless steel headers plumbs the fumes out back via a set of T/A-style, Year One-provided exhaust. FAST worked their magic on the little elephant, eking far more potency out of the 348-inch engine. A custom throttle body and computer-control module was used, allowing the Hemi's program to jump from economy to performance with the press of a button. The throaty intake breathes through a massive conical air filter that sucks the air straight in via the T/A hood.
Transmission: TCI was kind enough to drop off one of their bullet-proof gearboxes to the Wisconsin-based restoration shop, Muscle Car Restorations. A 727 TorqueFlite with a 2,500-stall torque converter, the transmission was customized to fit the Hemi bolt pattern, making it a one-of-one bellhousing.
Rearend: The Dana 60 is a little tricky. An ARB air locker system allows Dean to swap between a locker and an open differential with the flip a switch. The 3.55 gears spin the ARB rear, while a small air compressor in the trunk does the change-a-roo between a spool and an independent axle.
Horsepower & Performance: Nobody knows. But since it is owned by a famous NHRA funny car driver, we think this T/A has probably broken its share of highway laws . . . not that we're condoning that.
Suspension: A Magnum Force tubular chrome-moly K-frame replaces the heavy factory engine cradle with a Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion. QA1 coilover shocks and super-stock springs keep the wheels planted. The K-member came replete with tubular upper-and-lower A-arms, which provide nearly 150 pounds in weight savings.
Brakes: Stainless Steel Brakes provided the hefty stopping power a la a set of four-piston front and rear lightweight aluminum calipers with an extra mechanical parking brake. All four vented rotors are 1111/44-inches around, with the front discs providing up to a 20-percent improvement over the stock system.
Wheels: Weld Draglites, 18x8 up front and 18x9 out back.
Rubber: BFGoodrich Comp T/As.
Body: A full rotisserie body lob done in only the way Muscle Car Restorations can-nearly half the car was saved from the ravages of cancerous rust. New quarter-panels were needed, along with new steel in the rockers, doors, and A-arms. Hours were dedicated to making the body perfect. And that's how it is-perfect. So much so, a factory original car isn't this straight.
Paint: Hoisted high above on the rotisserie, the body was treated with a thick gray primer and several coats of PPG EV2 Hemi Orange. The fiberglass T/A hood was kept in semi-gloss black, and the roof was covered in a Year One vinyl top.
Interior: Going with the slightly modified appearance trend, MCR custom fabricated a carbon-fiber dash and gauge bezel and a center console insert. The console, carpet, headliner, package tray, and most of the door panels were all factory replacements provided by Year One. Auto Meter gauges read off all the activity going on underneath the hood. The tall back '70 seats are wrapped in custom-patterned black leather, and the Grant wheel looks close, but isn't quite factory.
This is one of two FAST boxes that control the engine. The supplied throttle body allows t
Rock Valley Antique Auto Parts built a custom aluminum fuel tank for Dean's Challenger. Fi
Magnum Force provided the trick tubular K-frame for the front suspension. The Flaming Rive
We took way too many pictures of this beautiful restomod Challenger to fit into the magazine. Just for checking us out online we have a collection of extra images of Dean Skuza's one of a kind 1970 Challenger built by Muscle Car Restorations. Don't forget to take a look at the desktop wallpaper.