We see a lot of cars that-between their factory build and present day-have resided in more than one state. Many times, these are California or desert Southwest cars with minimal rust, hauled back East, then restored or built into pavement-wrinkling street machines.
Jim Rigby's '70 Challenger R/T coupe isn't one of them. after it rolled off the line at Hamtramck Assembly on the day after Labor Day 1969, it headed east to a Dodge dealer in central New York, and it's been in the Empire State ever since.
Jim says it was sold new in Utica, New York, at Carbone Motor Sales. "I have some people who are trying to figure out if it was ordered like that. some people say it might have been a dealer-ordered car," he says. The features it was built with (per its fender tag) lean toward the appearance side of the options list with some performance items thrown in for good measure. it's an R/T, so the 383 Magnum, dual exhausts with chrome tips, F70-14 raised-white-letter tires, and heavy-duty suspension with front sway bar were standard. Add in the optional an A-833 four-speed and the Performance Axle Group (which included a 3.55-geared, Sure Grip-equipped 83/4-inch rearend and a 26-inch radiator), and you were only a few hundred dollars over the Challenger R/T coupe's base price of $3,266.
The 383 Magnum was standard...
The 383 Magnum was standard in the Challenger R/T for 1970. Jim had RJ Cars restore the one in his R/T to showroom-new condition. The factory emission-control info sticker on the left fenderwell is the "early" 1970 one.
To all that hardware, Hamtramck Assembly added cloth-and-vinyl buckets to this E-Body, along with a white vinyl top and side stripes, matte-black performance hood paint, center console, light group, seatbelt group, an AM radio with eight-track tape player and rear speaker, Rallye road wheels, and some other appearance and convenience options. this car's sticker price came in around $4,335.
Jim was looking for his first musclecar and first Challenger when he spotted it. "I was just looking for any decent Challenger," he says of his search. "I didn't really have anything in particular in mind, but I was very happy to pick this one up."
But this car was far from showroom-fresh when Jim found it, even though it had been off the road and garaged away from New York's harsh winters and heavily salted roads for quite some time. "A friend of mine saw it on the Internet. It was up near Utica, which is about two hours away from me," Jim says from his home near Rochester. "He knew more about cars than I did, so I asked him if he would go look at it with me. But he couldn't go till Monday and it was a Wednesday. I thought, If it's a good car, it's not going to last the weekend. So I jumped in my car, liked what I saw, and bought it."
How many factory options can...
How many factory options can you spot inside Jim's R/T? We see at least five, including the AM/eight-track radio, four-speed, console, cloth/vinyl seats, and the seatbelt group (which includes the warning light next to the reverse-warning light next to the glovebox).
At first, Jim-who's a trooper with the New York State Police-wanted to tackle the restoration himself. But after the "easy" work was done, he knew he needed help. "I had grand delusions of tearing it all down and putting it back together again," he recalls. "But I don't have the expertise or the tools needed. I took it apart pretty easily, but one day I looked at my garage, and I thought, Oh my God, I'm in way over my head here! That's when I decided to hold off a bit and look for someone to restore it." And that's where RJ Cars in nearby Arkport, New York, came in. "It took close to three years," Jim says of the rotisserie project that transformed his garage full of parts into the blue/white/black eye-grabber you see here.
The original quarters needed replacing, but the rest of the car's original steel had escaped the ravages of time and was treated to a black epoxy primer coat once the rust repairs were done. Then on went the B5 blue paint, this time in basecoat/clearcoat form.
In went the rebuilt 383/A-833-based powertrain, then the restored interior, and then the finishing touches were done just before the '07 Chryslers at Carlisle weekend.