When Charles Chesna of Saugus, Massachusetts, had the opportunity to score a '70 SE Challenger for free, it took him a matter of milliseconds to jump at the chance. Though it was an absolute basket case, he thought it would be a good project to work on with his three sons. this was his first foray into musclecar restoration, and the full-time carpenter quickly adapted his skills into rebuilding a classic Mopar. Working with his eldest son, Chuck, they were able to completely rebuild the Sublime E-Body.
During the restoration process of the SE, Charles' second son, Anthony, saw a classified ad listing another '70 Challenger. Curious, Anthony and his father drove to the advertiser's home. Buried beneath the usual garage debris and dust sat a Plum Crazy R/T SE U-Code Dodge. Brandishing his best poker face, Charles hid his excitement and happily exchanged $1,500 for the Challenger. Since young Anthony was still in high school and Charles was up to his waist in Chuck's Sublime SE, the purple R/T was trailered home and put into short-term storage for future wrenching.
Rebuilt from an around-the-town...
Rebuilt from an around-the-town cruiser, the original 340 Six-Pack plant was pulled, freshened with a .040-over bore, new 9.8:1 pistons, and Eagle rods. The cylinder heads received a three-angle valve job and new valves, springs, and rockers. The trio of two-barrel carburetors was jetted per Holley's specs.
While the first restoration was taking place, Charles would occasionally see a Hemi Orange T/A cruising around town. One day, the orange T/A pulled up Charles' driveway, and the owner asked Charles if he would be interested in buying it. Word of his affinity for sporty Mopar ponycars had gotten around, and the T/A's owner thought Charles would be a prime candidate to purchase the car. The Challenger wasn't in pristine condition; it was a daily driver and had been exposed to the rough elements for most of its life, but Charles knew he couldn't afford the price of an original T/A.
Instead, Charles told the would-be seller to place an ad in some national listings and see what the car would bring. As he drove away, Charles bemoaned to his son, "That will be the last time we ever see that car." Yet, several months later, the owner of the T/A called back, insisting that Charles buy the car.
The T/A's owner had been bombarded with phone calls. The callers were asking all sorts of questions he didn't know the answers to and demanding photos, so he felt he was getting nowhere on a sale. He also explained he had quietly observed the work Charles had done on the Sublime car and knew Charles would bring his car back to life. He was afraid to sell it to somebody who would ruin or heavily alter the car since he had owned it since high school. Plus, he liked the notion of being able to visit the car as he lived nearby.
The owner pulled the orange T/A up to Charles' house, opened the door, and hollered, "Let's go." During their short jaunt, the two cut a deal, and the car was backed into Charles' driveway that evening where the keys were officially handed over.