After all, Mr. Robinson had to work hard to buy it even the first time, taking nearly a year to talk its then-owner out of the engineless shell that had last been licensed in 1978. Aside from the AWOL 340, the Shaker hood was also missing; but otherwise, the very heavily-optioned E-Body was mostly complete, if somewhat rusty, as it had spent all its days in the ferrous-unfriendly climate of southern Canada. Says Scott about its completeness: "The original carb air control was still under the dash, and everything else that belonged with the car was there-including the microphone for the cassette player."
So, what kept the used-car dealer and Mopar fanatic in pursuit of the Challenger for almost twelve months? "I bought it," Scott told us about his first-time purchase in 1981, "because it was a neat car, and I figured it had to be rare, but I didn't realize that it was one of 11 shaker ragtops built in '71, and this one being Curious Yellow with a 4-speed had to make it one of three or four."
With a rarer-than-he-thought prize in hand, he then set about finding and acquiring needed parts, including NOS front outer and inner fenders, repro quarters, and a trunk floor to add to his existing stockpile of bits and pieces. Then, in 1985, for reasons known only to himself and to whomever he confesses his sins, Scott decided to sell the still-unrestored car and assorted parts to another Canadian Mopar collector, Grant Watling, who promptly put the project-in-waiting under cover in the dark recesses of his garage where it sat, untouched.
The calendar now moves to late 1991. Six years have passed and Scott decides he wants the Challenger...again. Negotiations didn't take nearly as long this time-only about a week. But due to the muscle car boom of the late '80s, the price was far steeper this second time around. "I had to pay the second time; the first time I stole it," Scott jokes. Truth is, he regards himself lucky to have gotten it back at any price the second time around, considering the swarm of other collectors who were buzzing around it by then. And his good fortune didn't stop at just getting the car back. We'll let Scott explain: "When I sold the car in 1985, I sold its original numbers-matching transmission to a local guy for his Dart. When I bought the car back in 1992, I got the tranny back-the guy found out it wouldn't work in his Dart and sold it to Grant in 1987." (The apparent halo of good fortune that surrounded Scott's dealings with this car didn't end there. It seems he also owns a '6911/42 Six Barrel Road Runner, for which he had looked high and low for correct 15x6 rims. "Then," according to Scott, "one day I looked at the Challenger, and there was a set on it!")
Even with luck like that, it took Scott another five years of scrounging for parts before he finally felt ready to begin restoration of this rare ragtop that hadn't seen pavement since the disco days. Part of his original attraction to the Curious Yellow cabriolet had been its lengthy option list, including the aforementioned R26 AM/cassette player with microphone, N96 Shaker, power windows, and top; S81 rim-blow steering wheel, A62 Rallye instruments, power disc brakes; J81 rear Go Wing, 4-speed with console, W23 road wheels; 3-speed wipers, V7X black stripe, Rallye suspension, and 3.23 axle with Sure Grip, to name just a few. Even though this list of extra-cost goodies is nothing if not comprehensive, whoever had optioned the car in the first place somehow neglected to order power steering. "I've had enough four-speed cars like that; they're just not a fun car to drive without power on them," says Scott, who made sure he corrected this apparent oversight during restoration.
Most of the corrective surgery took place in Scott's well-equipped garage, with the car stripped down to its unibody shell. Carl Miller and Kevin Zavitz helped out with body work, necessary welding was handled by Rob Slager, and then Zavitz once again got the nod to spray on the PPG Concept urethane finish. Meanwhile, a correctly date-coded 340 was acquired and sent to K&K Performance in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, for a stock rebuild, save for a Mopar Performance 284-degree cam.
Finally, on June 19, 1999, the open-air E-Body hit the road under its own power for the first time in nearly 21 years. Two old adages might apply here: "Twice lucky" and "better late than never."
Key SourcesEven if you restore most of your Mopar's magnificence in your own garage and buy a lot of parts at swap meets, as was the case with Scott, certain vendors and service shops will end up being indispensable to the end result. Here are some that Scott turned to in revitalizing his ragtop.
"Gene was the first supplier for Year One here in Canada...then you don't have the hassles with the border, and the duties, and any kind of brokerage or anything. He does a good job; if he says it'll be there on Friday, it will." Gene told us, "We're now Year One's number one distributor, worldwide."
Gene Heins, Mr. C's., Dept. MPRM, Box 571, Virgil, Ontario, Canada L0S 1T0; Telephone & Fax: (905) 468-0719. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org/
"Derek's good; he'll take the time..." According to Derek, "We attempt and take the time to locate the part numbers our Canadian customers need. Much of the 'heavy iron' stuff is gone and guys like Scott appreciate it when we go the extra mile."
Derek Foster, Woodstock Chrysler /Jeep, Dept. MPRM, 33 Wilson Street, Woodstock, Ontario, Canada N4S 3N6; (519) 537-6254.
"I had him put the motor together. He's a Mopar guy; he's always been a Dodge guy."
Kevin Wicke, K&K Racing & Performance, Dept. MPRM, 33 Scott St., Stratford, Ontario, Canada N5A-6S4; (519) 271-9378.