Years ago, when the designs for Chrysler's E-Body platform were being finalized, there was a TV show-The Time Tunnel-that suggested time travel was possible in the future. But Marvin Charles' '70 Challenger T/A is a time machine of another kind. "When I drive it, I feel like I'm 18 again," Charles says from his home in Muncy, Pennsylvania.
In its original form, the Challenger T/A was a midyear entry into Dodge's Scat Pack, boasting a 340 Six Pack with provisions for four-bolt mains, unique iron heads with a different port configuration from those used on the four-barrel 340, and an Edelbrock-sourced aluminum intake sporting three Holley two-barrels. Making the heads OEM pieces meant they could be used in SCCA's TransAm series that year, as they were on the No. 77 T/A campaigned by Sam Posey. In all, 2,143 production Challenger T/As were built in the latter part of the '70 model run, with the model not offered again after 1970.
Along with his wife's car-a numbers-matching Panther Pink Challenger T/A that's been in the family since 1972-Marvin previously owned another Hemi Orange T/A. It had a black vinyl top, and he owned it since he was 17. Stored in his barn for years, time had taken its toll when he finally sought to restore it in the '90s. He says, "When I put it on the trailer to take it around and get estimates, a piece of the frame had fallen out and lay on the trailer when we got to where we were going. So I thought, Do I want to start on this?"
All was not lost, however. A trip to a Keystone state Mopar shop-Wolfie's Mopars in Richfield, near Carlisle-proved fruitful, when the shop's owner later called him. "He called me about a year later and said, 'Are you doing anything with that car?' I said, No, I don't know what to do with it. He said, 'Tell you what, I've got one down here, and it's a nice driver. Would you be interested in a swap?' We went down and looked at it, and that's what we did. We swapped that one off for this one," recalls Marvin.
Except for the .030-inch overbore in the cylinders and the requisite pistons, she's all st
Fast forward from 1997-the year Marvin swapped his black-vinyl-topped T/A for the one you see here-to 2003. That's when he and his son decided to restore it, hopefully in time for the younger Charles to take to his junior prom. However, as with many restoration projects, it took longer than planned. Marvin says, "We took it to the body shop in January, and come June, that thing was nowhere near ready." So a Jeep Cherokee was a reluctant prom night substitution. But the T/A was done in time for his senior prom the following year.
"We actually finished it the day of my son's senior prom. That's how close we cut it. The body shop man was really good. The bumpers, the lights-everything that I could do myself-he was more than willing to let me go ahead and do. We couldn't get the wipers to work, so we took the wiper motor off [my wife's] Panther Pink car so he had working wipers in case he needed them, which he did that night."
As for the specifics of the restoration-the car got the full treatment, thanks to a number of shops near the Charles' home. Marvin says, "It was all done locally. The body shop-Whipple's Auto Restoration-has been in Hughesville, Pennsylvania, for 50 years. It's third-generation operated, and they did the work. We did try to paint the grille area with the overspray exactly the way it left the factory." It was painted with a V2-hue Hemi Orange color in basecoat/clearcoat paint, sprayed on by Whipple's to resemble how Hamtramck Assembly's paint shop spritzed on the Ditzler in the spring of 1970. Whipple's also refinished the OEM fiberglass hood and rear spoiler, and applied the reproduction T/A graphics.