Take a vehicle that's usually the basis of true-to-original restoration, do things a little different, and it gets noticed. In the Mopar world, purists argue whether the sway-bar brackets should show the heat discoloration from being welded onto the lower control arms to be judged "authentic." Call it appreciation under microanalysis. And yet, it's the modified car that draws immediate attention; though not always positive. "Well, that's just not correct," comes the sentiment of those making the call from the safety of the original form.
So it was with Martin Wienreb's '72 Challenger. Martin had originally restored the Challenger to close-to-factory form. Not a 100-point show competition machine, but a nicely restored, fairly authentic street driver. Enter the heretic, Steve Strope. Strope's ideas fly in the face of conventions sanctified by resto purists. He tags it "Newstreet": taking the classic musclecar form and embellishing it with modern technology and an aggressive stance. Others have chosen a similar path, "restifying" the vehicle with subtle changes to enhance performance while maintaining a stock look under casual observation. Strope's approach is to modify, and do so unashamedly. With the looks of this Challenger, and the reactions it generates, there's no need to apologize.
The black-on-black 340 four-speed Challenger's transformation from resto ride to rad revival was born when Martin mentioned to Strope that he was considering a change to a six-speed manual transmission. An irreverent thought for the resto-minded, but just the notion to indulge Strope's imagination. "Why stop there?" Strope suggested, and the partnership was forged. The plan was to modernize the Challenger while retaining the character of the original machine. For Strope, the look and image had to be overt, yet subtle. Successfully combining these two opposite attributes meant blending the ostentatious and the understated.
The black canvas of the sinister but conservative factory exterior hue was already a perfect understated base. To this, the subtle but noticeable "X" graphic was added, which serves as the car's identification in addition to highlighting the Challenger's lines. When participants on the Hot Rod Power Tour referred to the Challenger as simply "X," he knew the concept worked. The addition of polished 17x7 and 18x10 Torq Thrust wheels mounting aggressive Goodyear GSA 235/40-17 and 295/35-18 tires puts the sizzle to the exterior mix. The combination of Bear Racing four-wheel discs catching light from behind the wheels and the right rake between the body and the ground emphasizes the mechanical look. The effect is magnetic. Not seen is the stock suspension beefed with Just Suspension's poly bushings and torsion bars, with Addco swaybars at each end.
It looks hot, but to back the image, a strong drivetrain had to have the ass to hold its own. Naturally, the six-speed that started it all was on the list of improvements-a Richmond ROD. It was installed by Martin, who fabricated the mounts and performed the required mods to the tunnel and crossmember for clearance. Martin also fabricated a bracket to relocate the Richmond shifter, sporting a modified pistol grip, to the original console location. While Martin did the heavy welding and fabrication, Strope topped the shifter with a six-speed pattern top bezel. In keeping with the modern-tech approach, a custom ACPT carbon-fiber driveshaft links the trans to the 3.55 geared 831/44 rear.