We like the pure vibes of stock-restored iron, and we also appreciate the creativity of the radically modified Mopar segment. So when an enthusiast takes these two approaches and blends them together into a cohesive package, it gets our attention. When we saw Scott Fentz's '73 Challenger SE at the 2000 Mopar Nationals, we were impressed.
Scott, of Whiteland, Indiana, picked up his car in May 1998 for an easy $1,500. With the help of friend Chris Potts, Scott began the car's rejuvenation by cutting out the typical Midwest rot in the quarters, decklid, fenders, doorskins, and firewall, then installing new or fabricated pieces. At this time Scott also set the stage for the Pro Street side of the rebuild, de-arching the springs and relocating them inward by 4 inches to accommodate the 15x10 Weld Pro Star wheels and 29x12.5 Mickey Thompson Sportsmans that would eventually grace the back end. Scott then went through the driveline, rebuilding everything hub-to-hub and swapping the original 2.76 rear gear for a taller highway 3.1-geared SureGrip. After adding an eye-popping coat of Sublime paint, the tedious task of cleaning, repairing, and replacing the interior components continued, while the driveline was upgraded.
"The engine was a big concern for a long time," said Scott. "I wanted a 340 [to replace the original 318]. After looking for some time, I received a tip from a friend that a local guy had one. He had only the block and the crank, so I had to piece together the rest of the motor from swap meets and from my old 318. I found a set of X heads in the paper and I traded the original tires and wheels to get them. After collecting all the engine parts, M&M Automotive assembled the short block."
The engine work included boring the cylinders .060 over and adding forged TRW pistons. Scott added Lunati valvesprings, a .507-lift cam, hydraulic lifters, stock 1.5 rockers, and standard 2.02 intake and 1.60 exhaust valves to the X heads. On top, Scott selected an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake coupled with a Road Demon 625-cfm carb. A stock ignition system with an MSD coil and 8mm plug wires, Hooker Super Competition 1.75-inch headers, three-chamber Flowmaster mufflers, and 2.5-inch tailpipes would also make their way into the power upgrade mix. Scott decided to keep the original 904 transmission, which was rebuilt by Jimmy Buck and now includes a Coan 3,000-stall converter and a B&M shift kit.
"During the next several months, the rest of the car was painted and assembled," explained Scott. "Some days, I wondered if it would ever end because it was draining my wallet and my patience."
Now with the Challenger finished, Scott has sent the Sublime screamer onto the show and cruising scenes, knocking down First Place trophies as he goes. At one outing, he had a particularly interesting encounter.
"I was at a cruise-in once and a guy came up to my car to talk about it. He said he owned a '73 Challenger about four years ago. After looking through my photo album, he asked where I had purchased the car. It turns out he had sold the car to the teenager I had purchased it from. He turned to me and shook my hand, telling me I did a great job. He was so glad to see that someone had restored it."
Evidently, we aren't the only ones who appreciate this classy street/strip approach to Mopar restorations.