I purchased this '70 Challenger in October 1985. It was originally from Arizona, so it was completely rust free. Along with the shell came three van loads of parts. The car was a basket case. All the loose sheetmetal that came with it (doors, fenders, decklid) were rusty Michigan parts and couldn't be used, so I acquired better sheetmetal from parts cars and swap meets, and then I proceeded to work on the car. This was my first restoration, and I learned how to do bodywork and paint as I went. After the body was done, I installed a 340 with a 727 transmission and an 831/44 rear. I finished the car-for the first time-in spring 1989. Between 1989 and 1994, I drove, showed, and raced the car regularly. Then, in the summer of 1994, I bought my first house and decided it was time to redo the car again.
The car was completely disassembled down to the bare shell and stripped clean. I then tied the frame with 2x3-inch square tubing and relocated the rear leaf springs inboard using the Mopar Performance spring relocation kit. I then focused on the bodywork, just as I did in the late-'80s. Once the bodywork was done, I painted the car Berry Red Metallic, chosen from the Dupont Custom Color book and matched with the color of my wife's nail polish. I used the Dupont Chromabase System (urethane basecoat/clearcoat), added a white "butt" stripe, and painted the rear bumper white as well. I painted the front bumper the same color as the body.
Once the paintwork was done, I started to assemble the front suspension. Everything was stripped to bare metal, epoxy-primed and repainted. Polyurethane bushings were used throughout, using a PST frontend kit. The front brakes are stock disc brakes, and the steering box is a manual unit. I reinstalled the previously used 340 and a newly acquired four-speed transmission.
Once the mechanicals were done, I restored all the trim and reinstalled it on the car. The seat covers-made by Motor City originals in 1987-and the rest of the interior was freshened up. I re-dyed the door panels white, cleaned up the seats, and laid new black carpeting from ACC. After the interior was installed, the car went to Automotive Interiors in Mount Clemens, Michigan, for a headliner and vinyl top. I chose Weld Prostar wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires. I detailed it and finished it at midnight on the Thursday before the Mopar Nats in 1999. I left for Columbus on Friday morning, and the car took First Place in the E-Body Modified class.
For the next few years, the car was driven, shown, and raced. The best quarter-mile time with the 340 was a 12.24 at 112 mph. In August 2001, while racing at Lapeer Dragway in Michigan, I missed a shift and took the engine to 8,200 rpm. Needless to say, I wiped out the No. 1 and No. 2 rod bearings. After hurting my 340, a new stroker small-block was on the list.