To refine gold, one heats it to melting temperature over and over again until all the impurities are burned away, leaving a precious metal that is almost transparent. For Kent and Amy Olsen, the 1970 Challenger seen here has been subjected to the same basic process. During the last four-and-a-half years, this R/T had been gone over and brought back to perfection in a way that, like raw gold, leaves it much better than it was when first discovered.
Olsen is a facilities engineer in Chaska, Minnesota, but the car has been far away from that upper midwestern state in its 30-year lifetime. Originally delivered to a dealership named Dodge Country USA in Littleton, Colorado, it had seen its share of the wild side. Kent, 34, had spent quality time in other Mopars, but this special one would be his first full-tilt restoration project. He bought it sight unseen and had it delivered from Southern California in 1994.
"The car was far from original when I got it," he says. "It was painted white and had a B&M shifter, traction bars, and air shocks. However, the many options on it made it very attractive to me, especially the Hi-Impact SubLime paint with black striping, the decklid luggage rack, and the solid body. The big-block, four-speed combo made it a done deal."
To make sure the chassis and exterior got the proper attention, he turned the body over to John Balow at Muscle Car Restorations, who took it completely down to the unibody, with every part being either replaced or rebuilt to better-than-new specifications. Once finish-prepped, the sheetmetal received a brilliant coat of FJ5 SubLime PPG acrylic enamel, along with the performance hood blackout treatment and replacement striping from Year One. The rocker mouldings (not common on the Challenger model) and trunk-mounted luggage rack round out the exterior options. Inside are vinyl-covered front bucket seats, center console and the Rallye performance dash cluster, all looking like they did the day the car arrived in the Rockies. The only addition to the stock options was the flip-top gas cap and a rear sway bar.
Meanwhile, the 375-horse 440 Magnum went to Wheeler Racing in Blaine, Minnesota, where Gary Schmidt bored it out by .040 and built a solid bottom end using a polished crank, 9.5:1 compression pistons and ARP rod bolts. A Mopar Performance street/strip Purple Shaft cam went into the center of all this, while a set of 906 heads with hardened valve seats for today's no-lead fuels were bolted atop the bores. An aluminum MP water pump and housing are now mounted to the front of the engine. To make sure the car could breathe well yet still look stock, an engine-color Mopar Performance M1 dual-plane intake supports the stock AVS carb, which was rebuilt by Bob Kunz. The last modification to the engine was the addition of an MP electronic ignition system with the orange box plus NGK plugs, which are a big help when the car needs to get started in the Minnesota winters. Wheeler's dyno proved the engine was up into the plus-375-horse range with these changes.
The Super Trak Pak option, which uses the A833 Hemi four-speed, is behind the engine. This is coupled to the crank through a McLeod clutch assembly and stirred via the stock Hurst Pistol Grip. Under the back end is a Sure-Grip Dana 60 housing, which supports the 4.10:1 ratio gear set. No, the milage isn't great, but it will scare the heck out of any Corvette guy sitting timidly at a stoplight. Wide Hoosier Radial GT tires mounted on 15x7 inch Rallye wheels round out the driveline.
As a crowning touch, the underside of the car is almost as perfect as the exterior, and the exhaust system uses the stock cast-iron high-flow manifolds to a pipe and muffler layout that has been completely detailed by High Performance Coatings.
When we saw Kent and his car at the Carlisle All-Chrysler Nationals, we knew it was something special, and the flawless paint makes it a perfect car for Mopar Muscle. Obviously, the long refining process has resulted in a machine that is 99.9 percent pure perfection.