Story About The Aquisiton
It all started when a listing was posted on our site when it was brand new. The listing was for a rusted out 1970 Challenger Convertible originally Plum Crazy (now white) and from Michigan. It sported the disclaimer, “Most parts available with lots of newly installed sheet metal”. The fact the car was on a jig and had no drive train or suspension did not do much to lure a buyer. So it was no surprise the listing sat on our site for a long while even though it was visited by over 1200 tire kickers – not many people have the nerve to take on a basket case like that car.
Our First Viewing
About a year after it was posted, I got a call from a friend telling me about his friend Paul who’s been trying to sell a Challenger project car with no luck. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Challenger he was selling was a car on our site. My friend put Paul on the phone and we discussed his situation. He was moving very soon and the car wasn’t coming with him. I told him we’d try to give the listing a bit of TLC and tried calling some friends to see if they were interested in restoring this rust bucket to its former glory, but no one was crazy enough to take it on.
It was later that night that I had the idea – we could buy the car and our website advertisers could help us restore it as sponsors of the project!
I contacted Paul and after a few discussions about what his options were we came up with a plan to possibly buy the car. We went to Paul’s home where he had components to the car; the car itself (or what was left of it, anyway) was in storage a few zip codes away, but we looked at his replacement parts, the fenders, the hood, the trunk lid and the doors, all of which were from a donor car out in Arizona. The original interior, dash, wiring harnesses and convertible top were here and went with the car. We didn’t see the body of the car, except for the pictures on our website or any of the parts that would actually make it run since the 6 cylinder drive train and suspension were long gone, but we pulled the trigger and bought the car anyway.
Is It Dead or Alive?
From there we went to the storage unit where we found the car mounted on a jig sitting on cement blocks. It was a bit of a mess. We had a flatbed pick it up and hauled to Terry at Ace Automotive, where we learned how much of a mess it really was.
Terry showed us how the car was bent into a shape reminiscent of a banana due to poor bracing, and how the previous owner had welded new metal to rusted metal. He told us that most of the sheet metal and work that had been done needed to be scrapped and redone and guessed it could cost up to $20,000+ to get it ready for doing the body work. This wasn’t looking good at all…
It's Going Back on the Road
My business partner / wife and I had a long discussion about what our next steps might be. We decided we really wanted see this Challenging Challenger drive down the road again but we needed to find out how crazy we really where. So we contacted Terry and he invited us to his shop where he enlightened us of the huge financial road ahead of us in the event that we continue to restore the car. He told us that he wouldn’t blame us if we decided not to do it and even suggested buying a car already completed. But after overcoming the sticker shock we decided this had to be done and we told Terry to start beating the bushes for the rare parts we needed and start the work.
There was no saving the front clip the car came with and it had to be scrapped, so after beating the right bush Terry was able to graft on the front end of a 71 Plymouth Roadrunner – we joked about putting the trademark Roadrunner “meep meep” purple horn in as a “recessive trait,” which we may actually do.
It's Getting New Skin and Bones
After 120 man hours of labor, the car was finally straight with new rocker panels, full floor, firewall and trunk pan, so we packed her up and headed to the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, Carlisle, PA where we met a lot of other people who were in the process of restoring either a Challenger or a Barracuda themselves. Some folks were climbing all over our Challenger, taking photos and measurements as reference for restoring their cars at home. The community rallied around the car, sharing experiences and advice. It was so cool to get to talk to other people on the same journey!
We continue to source out parts from our sponsors, donor cars, and fabricating other parts as we can. No one makes inner fender wells for ’70 Challenger Convertibles, and the original owner of our basket case cut ours out! Only the community can help us complete this car, and we look forward to seeing what the power of people working together can do.
Stay tuned for more...
There'll be future updates on the Challenging Challenger, but for now, you can discuss the restoration project on the forums.