On a parts hunt, you never know what you'll find. Usually, it's something other than what you're looking for. Sometimes this can be a good thing, other times it can be a bad thing. Scott Shanks has an interesting story to tell us when he stumbled upon this '70 Challenger.
Back in 1995, Scott was looking for parts for another project car he had. He visited a long time Mopar collector to ogle his accumulation of parts and noticed a worn out convertible Challenger sitting in the garage. "It was actually being used as a doghouse, of all things," he jokes. He wanted to know a little about the Challenger and was told a brief history of how it came to be the home of a dog. It was wrecked in Oklahoma back in 1987 with damage sustained to the right front corner. Sometime between 1989 and 1993 the car was partially disassembled for a repair that never came.
Well, Fido was a little comfortable in his collector car sleeping quarters, and it wasn't for sale. "I continued to stop by for the next couple years and see if the car was for sale and that day finally came in 1997." The two men exchanged cash and Scott was on his way back to Gardner, Kansas, with a doghouse--err Challenger.
Scott was aware he purchased one helluva fix 'er upper, but he didn't see that as a bad thing. No, he viewed it as his invitation to build the car the way he wanted to. After brief thoughts of rebuilding it back to its original condition, Scott decided he would go all out. "I wanted to drive this one the way Dodge intended, hard!" He found himself daydreaming about how he would have ordered the car new, if it were 1970. "It was during one of these conversations that my wife suggested that I do it and do it right--she still regrets that last part," he jests.
He finally had a chance to go through the 16 boxes of miscellaneous parts that came with the E-Body, and, as luck would have it, they contained of most of the odd, hard-to-find convertible parts he needed. The project was off on a good foot.
When it came time to really dig into the car, Scott was a little reluctant. "Thankfully, this was my seventh Challenger, so I knew my way around them pretty well." However, he hadn't stripped one to a bare shell before and this was intimidating. He took his time and got her down to metal before blasting off the two coats of factory FJ5 paint to reveal a fairly solid car. "There was nothing wrong that a simple trunk and driver-side floor couldn't fix." He added a few little odds and ends, but the project was put on hold when he had a new baby girl and the family relocated to Florida.
In 2002, the Shanks family was living in Tallahassee, Forida, where Scott sent the car to Capital City Collision Center to have it painted. "I couldn't paint it green again and thought that this car should have a bold color, and I wanted to make it a modern Dodge color." After a short deliberation, Scott chose Viper Racing Yellow and black to accent it. A new black top was ordered from Year One, seat covers from Legendary, and the dash was sent to Just Dashes to be recovered.
The family then moved twice, stalling the project in its tracks. But once Scott was settled in after they finally moved back to Kansas, he set a goal to get the car finished as quickly as possible. In the time between his move to Florida, and back to Kansas, the hobby had taken a different direction. "A lot of emphasis was placed on handling and modern performance." With the new third-generation Hemi offering economy and power in a lightweight package, it seemed like the ideal choice for him.
"In 2007 I was able to score a 6.1 Hemi with a warranty before they were restricted to dealer-only." There was, however, a small hiccup in Scott's build by using this engine. Because he planned to make the car a manual shift, it created a few obstacles in mating it to the 6.1L. Since Mopar already made parts to adapt a 727 to the new engine, it seemed like a more logical choice to keep the project rolling along.
Scott focused on the chassis for the final stage of the build and knew he wanted to go with an Alter-K-tion setup from Reilly Motorsports. Again, as luck would have it, he called up Bill at RMS and he said they had just completed the finishing touches on an E-Body Alter-K-tion with third-gen Hemi motor mounts. The kit arrived 10 days later. Once he installed it on the car, he realized that it cleaned things up and opened his options for exhaust and steering.
Before he knew it, the car was ready to fire up and test. "My father always told me to break them in the way you intend to drive them," he boasts. This consisted of big, smokey burnout and a broken transmission. Again, luck played in his favor and Tremec's new T56 Magnum solved his drivetrain solution once and for all. It required him to expand the transmission tunnel four inches on the passenger side and increase the height about three inches. But the modifications were worth it, according to Scott. "With a 2.97 first gear and 4.10s out back, she rockets off the line while the .50 sixth gear means I'm spinning at 1,900 rpm at 70 mph getting 22 mpg."
As Scott intended, he built the car to drive, and he drives it as often as possible. He commonly takes the Challenger on road trips because it's such a pleasure to drive. In the future he plans to relocate the shifter to a more comfortable position. Until then, he'll enjoy the smokey burnouts that won't kill his transmission. So, the next time you see a basket case sitting in the back of a garage doubling as a dog house--or home for any other species of critter--it could turn out like Scott's convertible. It just takes time, patience, and a lot of luck! mm
"I wanted to drive this one the way Dodge intended, hard!" -- Scott Shanks
'70 Dodge Challenger
Owned by: Scott Shanks, Gardner, Kansas
- Engine: Under the hood is a 414-rwhp 421 lb-ft of torque third-generation fuel injected Hemi. He sourced the engine from his local dealership, Olathe Dodge, as well as the Mopar conversion harness. It features an AEM ECM and cable-driven throttle body and internally stock carrying a factory Dodge powertrain warranty. The Alter-K-tion kit opened a lot of room and allowed him to use the factory 6.1L shorty header manifolds attached to a custom 3-inch Magnaflow exhaust.
- Tranmission: Tremec T-56 Magnum (a T-56 with many of the new TR6060 internals).
- Rearend: A Moser 8-3/4 rear with a Sure Grip and Richmond 4.10 gears.
- Suspension: Adjustable QA1 coilovers were installed up from with adjustable QA1 shocks in the rear. The front end was replaced with an Alter-K-tion system from Riley Motorsports. Out back, Scott installed Hotchkis leaf springs with a super stock relocation kit. The car also features an ididit adjustable steering column.
- Brakes: 12-inch rotors and Wilwood six-piston calipers at all corners.
- Wheels and Tires: Billet Specialties SLG 23 wheels measuring 18x8 front and 18x10 rear shod in Nitto NT555 tires. The tires sizes are 245/40R18 and 285/40R18 rear.
- Paint and Body: After Scott stripped the car at home, he recognized the trunk and sections of the floor needed to be replaced in addition to the previous damage from a wreck. He left this work up to the professionals at Capital City Collision Center in Tallahassee. Once they mended the body back together it was drenched in Viper Racing Yellow paint. Scott chose black to be the accent color, had custom Hemi callout side stripes made, and installed a new black convertible top.
- Interior: Inside, the factory interior was given the five star treatment with all new carpet from Auto Custom Carpets and new seat covers from Legendary Auto Interiors. The original dash was sent out to Just Dashes to have them work their magic and bring the dash back to life.
- Stereo: The eight-track player was sent to Wards Radios and is fully functional, but it has been modified to play an iPod in addition to AM/FM radio. Clarion speakers were installed throughout the car and a 10-inch MTX sub and amp were hidden in the back seat for some bass.
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