Jon Mannila’s 1972 Stepside Chevy

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Imagine if you could travel back in time to 1972 and order a brand new truck assembled exactly how you wanted!

For Jon Mannila of Eugene, Oregon that perfect combo would have been a black, big block, 4×4, Cheyenne Super 10 with a red houndstooth interior. Well, they haven’t invented a time machine yet, and Chevrolet never built such a combo. So Jon figured he was just going to have to build it himself.

A bare bones, original paint, one owner, step side ‘72 was traded in at Romania Chevrolet in Eugene in 1996 that Jon caught wind of. The well cared for truck had a severe motor knock after it was taken out by the owner’s grandson for a joy ride, so it was traded in for a new truck. Once in Jon’s possession he immediately began working on it, but as soon as his good friend Tony laid eyes on the unmolested truck, he was in love. So Jon agreed to sell it to him. Tony continued to make steady progress on the truck until Jon decided to part ways with his wicked ‘55 Chevy post car. As much as Tony loved the ‘72 truck project, he also had a deep affection for Jon’s 55, and it was a driver.  So another deal was struck between the friends, and Jon was once again the owner of the truck project.

At this point in Jon’s life his hobby of classic cars had grown into a successful business known as MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration, so he had the shop take over the truck’s restoration. Tony had come to work for Jon, so the pair were both able to be involved in the balance of the truck’s build. The goal was to make the truck look totally factory, so great strides were taken to achieve that vision. A 402 was utilized, but pushed forward to ensure factory mounting locations for the transfer case. The big block was fully dressed with stock A/C, shroud, powering steering, etc, and backed by a turbo 400 transmission adapted to the factory 205 transfer case with an Advanced Adaptors kit. The truck’s factory wooden bed was replaced with a steel floor from a ¾ ton long box, but in a fashion that appears factory. It was then Line-X coated.

Once the entire truck was mocked up, it was blown apart and its body work tackled. As you can see in the photos, this is one amazingly arrow straight paint job, and the red houndstooth interior looks unbelievable paired against the deep black.

The truck was completed and ran as good as it looked, for a short while. You have to remember this was the early 2000s and engine oil was going through a transition period and it didn’t take long for the big block’s non roller cam to go flat with the lack of zinc protecting it. So with an expensive lesson learned that builders around the nation faced, Jon pulled the 402 and swapped it for a 454 that was once again detailed to factory perfection. In the end the truck was everything Jon dreamed it would be, and other than the 6” lift and WELD wheels this ‘72 appears bone stock—as the only factory example of a big block, 4×4, Cheyenne Super, stepside to leave the factory in 1972—or is it? Ha ha, Jon will never tell.

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What Do You Get When H2O Hits a 32° Day?

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This whole story began back in the month of December of 1958, in the small hamlet of Veradale, Washington.

Eastern Washington has a history of producing some pretty cold weather as the wind blows down with fury from the northern plains of Canada. From December to February or March, with the old outside thermometer hitting down into the teens and below, makes for a lot of snow and ice in Veradale. It was also an excellent time for a couple of buddies to pick up some easy money shoveling snow. No, I’m not talking about shoveling the old fashioned way, I’m talking about sitting in a nice warm ¾ ton Chevy pick-up with chains on all four corners, bags of sand in the back for a little extra traction and a fresh new fancy snow plow up front. This was a state-of-the-art snow plow complete with power hydraulics to lift the plow up at the end of the run. We talked Larry Schmedding’s dad into letting us operate this fine piece of engineering to help our fellow merchants in the area get rid of some of that snow that was piling up outside like there was not going to be any tomorrow, if we didn’t get out there and help out.

We filled our new ride up to the brim with petrol, checked the hydraulic fluid and were off to make some extra bucks. Our first stop was at the K-Mart next to the gas station where Larry and I worked part time. “Yes,” was the answer from the assistant manager—he’d pay us $25 to get that snow out of the parking lot and he was thankful we came along when we did, as he was out there freezing his you-know-what off, trying to just get the snow away from the big doors up front. Next we hit the Albertson’s grocery store with another big yes, then on to the post office with another positive yes, and on to the drugstore “for sure yes do it.” We had made a $100 and we hadn’t even started to shovel any snow yet. This was going to be a fantastic pay day!

With my share of the bucks I could already see a brand new set of white wall tires on the old model ”T” and maybe a new starter that would help me get her running. I had been pushing it to get her started for the last six months and this was getting a little old, not to mention a little awkward when I had to ask one of my dates if she could help out with the push start exercise.

We continued to sell our new snow removal business for the next hour and picked up an additional four parking lots. Wow! We were now at a cool $100  each and we hadn’t even applied for a business license yet. We were so busy selling that we hadn’t checked the amount of snow that was piling up. She was probably around 12” when we started our new venture and was hitting 30” now. Maybe it’s time we got to using that super, duper, power hydraulic snow plow.

One foot of snow plowing removal was a sure thing, but two and a half feet was a different story. We had to remove the snow in layers, and that meant it was going to take twice as long at each location than we had planned. This might be an all-night snow removal party we are attending. As the night moved on and we continued to move from lot to lot removing the amounts of snow that had fallen up to that time.

We were making some headway but I swear it was coming down faster than we could shovel it. We used up a full tank and 1/2 of gas and 10 hours later we finally finished the final parking lot at the US Post Office. We got them all done and even went back and shoveled a little more at the K-Mart to make it look like a fresh job had just been done.

We made it home with Mr. Schmedding’s truck just in time for him to hop in and head to work. Larry and I grabbed a bowl of Wheaties and were off on our way to school. Not sure about Larry, but I got a quick nap in during P.E. hiding in the john. That afternoon we made it by four of the snow removal jobs and  collected our bucks due. The K-Mart manager fizzled out on us as he hadn’t approved any snow removal activity, but he sure thanked us for our civic contribution. The remaining three was a nightmare to behold. Around twelve o’clock that night a Chinook wind coming up from down south brought some high warm wind into the whole area. The temperature shot up and all the fresh fallen snow melted like it had never been there at all, except the piles that we had so nicely placed at the ends of each row and by the light poles. You guessed it, two of the three would pay us our $25, but they wanted those big piles removed as they were taking up parking spaces they needed for their Christmas shoppers. Well the only way that was going to happen was by hand with snow shovels and we really earned our money on those two. The United States Post Office paid us by check. I think we received it by mail about six months later.

All in all our snow removal business turned out to be a moderately profitable little venture. I of course listed the income I made from this experience as unearned income on my next year’s tax return. I’m not sure how Larry handled his side of the profit, but it might be interesting to note that he is just one of the successful millionaires I’ve known to come out of that Spokane Valley from that time period. Who knows, maybe there is money to be made in snow removal, however, it still sounds like a snow job to me.

Feature Car of the Month

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This gorgeous ’37 Ford Cabriolet Convertible is more than ready to participate in the upcoming 60th Portland Roadster Show with winning style.

She features more bells and whistles on her than most brand new vehicles of today. She is the property of Mr. Jack Lindquist, from the Oak Grove area of Portland and we’re proud to make this our R&R NW featured car of the month.

This beautiful Fire Pearl Red colored rod features a 425 hp, 383 V-8 for power, a 700R4 w/electric adjustable lock up tranny and a 9” rear w/370 Posi-Trac mono-leaf spring. She has 4-wheel disc brakes with polished Willwood calipers, Mustang rack and pinion, power steering, power windows, power doors and trunk with 6-way power seats. Tilt wheel, Vintage Air with front runner serpentine system, Kenwood C/D player, Classic Instrument “wing” gauges, and Flow Master creating that awesome sound. She sports a delicious Ultra Tan all-leather interior and chrome billet wheels with TA rubber on all four corners. The flawless Gibbons body with a two inch chopped top covered in show class fabric makes this ride come alive and guaranteed to get a lot of thumbs up and happy smiles as you fly down the byway.

Jack attended Oregon City High back in the fifties and was a member of OCH winning football team. Graduating in 1960, he went on to running and then owning the well-known Chevron gas station at the top of the hill in OC back when gas was selling for 21 cents per gallon.
It didn’t take him long to realize there probably wasn’t a strong future in pumping gas, so he jumped at a chance and got into the grocery business. Thirty plus years later he retired from United Grocers right here in Portland. He is enjoying his retirement and about five years ago he purchased himself a little gift in the form of this freshly built fantastic 1937 Ford Cabriolet Convertible. He loves everything about this super rod and she’s won her share of trophies in the past few years.

Did I mention that Jack is one of the founding members of the “Silver Cruisers” car club here in Portland?  I’m not sure where they came up with that handle for a new car club but I think one of the prerequisites had something to do with older hair styles.

Jack now has his eyes on another ride out there in dream land, so it’s time to look for a new owner for the ’37. If you’re interested you can see her in person at Affordable Classics —located at 19895 SE McLoughlin Blvd. in Gladstone. The individual who jumps on the chance to own this ride, for a fraction of what all the parts cost, plus the build time to put it all together, is going to be one lucky person.

We hope to see you and your beautiful, creative, automobile work of artistic wonder at the Portland Roadster Show come March 18-20, 2016 at the Portland Expo.

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Art is in the Eye of the Beholder

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Probably truer words have never been spoken when it comes to the eye of the GearHeads of the world.

Those who build the hot rods of today are considered artisans in their own right – and for good reason. Thanks to reality shows on modern day TV, the general public has been given a bird’s eye view of the creations and the many characters that build them. Indeed, the viewing public comes to the awareness that some of these craftsmen prove to be quite a piece of work themselves – to gaze upon!

All one has to do is look back through the Deusenbergs of the days of yore to realize that art has been a part of the automobile from the beginning.  Why even as Henry Ford manufactured a million black, Model T Fords there could have been an artistic glint behind those bespectacled eyes … well, maybe not.  But fast forward to the present day and there is no question that there is art to behold in any man’s eye when it comes to current car creations. It’s just that … er, one man’s taste might vary a bit from the next man’s in some situations.
Behold The Valkyrian Steel.

As the average man gazes upon this 29 foot monstrosity, he might make the connection on how this might very well appeal to your average GearHead. Because one might naturally assume that, what with all them gears and such churning around inside the heads of these hot rodders, this would be totally acceptable. Then again … that might depend upon what one might consider “natural.”

One might be a bit taken aback to note most of the GearHeads unsteadily wandering off with a vacant look in their eyes. Trust me on this one – as one of the wanderers, I can attest to this.  However, if one is to delve deeper into the conundrum that is the Valkyrian Steel, one learns that this is indeed a commissioned work of art that was built for a specific purpose.

If one can just open one’s mind to a vision of a mighty warrior machine lumbering through a smoky, fiery wasteland on a mission to rescue a giant burning man from the Apocalypse.  One can then truly understand how this man made machine would fit right into the annual Burning Man trek into the desert. ‘nuff said.

But can we at least give the real eye candy a little love. There is no question the hordes of fantastic new builds to be seen at this year’s SEMA Show was the true car porn that all the GearHeads drool over.  We have been seeing them in many of the articles and shows that are coming out on this colossal show.

Alas we would be remiss if we did not wrap this up with that other art form that is the pearl of many a GearHead’s eye.  That would be the many and myriad parts and pieces that make up the whole. Whether they be hand formed, cad/cam, CNC, billet, plated, anodized, painted, water blasted or 3d printed.  The latest and greatest of man’s creations that are the parts that make the whole hot rod, are at this fabulous show – all lit up.  A satisfying array meant to placate all of those motorhead addicts—those reversely synergistic types who fully believe that it is, indeed the sum of the parts that is greater than the whole.  Go to #GearHeadsWorld for more on the Valkyrian Steel and many other SEMA cars.
So, what say you GearHeads, which is the purest art form?  Is it the whole car you see before you or is it the sum of all the man made pieces that make the whole?

Or might it be something more visceral like wrapping one hand around a wheel and the other on a gearshift?

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All for the Love of Classic Cars & Chopper Bikes

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The story, as remembered by one tall lanky dude with the name of Del, who hits the measuring tape at
6’ 8 ½”, recalls about 29 years ago this lovely young lady by the name of Grace happened to be in the right place at the right time, and he was lucky enough to be at the same place at the same time. The day he met her, his life started all over again. She was truly his special grace gift from heaven. At 5’ 9 ¾” the two of them became a tall hit where ever they went. In addition, she loves classic custom cars and chopper bikes.

By the time Grace and Del got to be introduced as a couple Grace had already graduated with honors from Portland State University with a degree in accounting, and a master’s in business. Good old Del had nailed up his shingle down on McLoughlin Blvd., introducing the world to Colton’s Auto Body. He has kept his nose to the grind stone and has produced some memorable rides in the past 30 years, and he has more than earned the new title of Colton’s Custom Rods. Del will be the first to admit his life really all came together the day the Lord introduced him to Grace. She has brought more to the marriage of two people than just standing eye-to-eye with her husband. She has brought her well-learned knowledge of accounting and business management to assist Del in his love of street rods and classic custom cars. Together they have developed a working partnership of trust and loyalty to their church, their customers, their community and their many friends. Del and Grace Colton are truly a beautiful 28 year build time of life in progress.

We at R&R NW Publication would like to thank both of you for sharing your story with us and our thousands of readers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. “All for the Love of Classic Custom Cars and Chopper Bikes.”

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1967 CHEVELLE Super Sport 2DR HT

For power she sports a Merlin 540 ci w/Canfield heads plus nitro injection, Turbo 400 tranny,  and a fantastic interior by D.L. Peters complete with roll bar.  She features a custom striped and vented hood that really makes this ride stand out in the crowd. The super tires and wheels finish off the look in style. She’s won her share of trophies all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
A fella by the name Steve Oviatt witnessed this fantastic automobile creative work of art at the Roadster Show last year, and he just had to have it. Under new ownership she’s still winning trophies, and a real crowd pleaser whereever she’s shown. Build time 2 ½  years.

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1964 CADILLAC COUPE DeVILLE Convertible

429 ci Cad for power,  Turbo 400 auto transmission and stock rear-end. The stance on this low and long (19’6 1/2 “) and sweet delicious creation is from Air Ride Technology by Ridetech, the gorgeous rich black leather interior and the fantastic black cloth top was stitched by D.L. Peters Upholstery.  The unbelievable deep pearlized paint makes this Cad Convertible come alive and the True Spoke Kelsey Hayes wire wheels and the w/w tires on all four corners finish this ride with class. Look forward to seeing this brand new  Colton’s Custom built rod creation at the 60th Portland Roadster Show on March 18/20, 2016 at the Portland Expo Center. Build time 1 year.

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2014 FORD RAPTOR F150 ½ Ton PU

Daily driver. For power a 6.2 L 405 h/p  w / 6 speed Auto trans and 4 WD.  This limited edition Ford features the custom all leather interior package with all the bells and whistles you can put on a parts truck for the office.  The candy maroon red color with black accented trim on that crew cab looks inviting for any two six and seven foot caretaker owners.

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2009 CHEV Z06 CORVETTE

Sporting a LS7 662 h/p dialed in up to 800 plus h/p. Featuring a carbon fiber wrapped custom top and front air foil, custom one off laser vented hood, a gorgeous Corvette Red finish on the body with a black-on-black rear spoiler.  She’s running D-2 forged 20” wheels on all four corners and this baby can get up and turn some numbers.  She’s won her share of trophies and it’s a true Colton Custom Rod as she is detailed spotless inside and out to perfection. Always a refined work in progress.

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2007 BIG BEAR CHOPPER

S&S 124 ci for power creates 124 h/p to the rear axle featuring Super Ride rubber 300mm wide  on the rear and 80mm up front giving this long (9’ 6”) and low chopper its on the ground stance.  The Rattlesnake Chopper color is highlighted with flamed out striping and graphics by world class pinstriper Mitch Kim of Portland, Oregon.  Keeping his Grace free from any harm, Del rides this on the ground chopper as a boy toy only. However I have been witness to the fact that Grace, on more than one occasion, has shown up at car and bike shows in her tricked out Corvette to haul home your boy toy chopper’s winning trophies. She’s is a beauty and your choppers not bad either! The choppers build time was about 3 months.

Jon Mannila’s 1969 Datsun 510

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Datsun 510s have had a long cult following—loyal enthusiasts who have loved these cars long before their recent upswing in the collector car market.

One such 510 loyalist is Tim Bridges, who makes his living as a body man and painter at MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration in Eugene, Oregon. Tim’s dedication and excitement towards 510s spread to Jon Mannila, owner and founder of MetalWorks. So it was not a big surprise when Jon decided he’d like to try his hand at building a 510 for the street.
Through an unfortunate divorce situation of a 510 fanatic, Jon was able to buy out a collection that consisted of a semi-driver 510 sedan, along with a parts car and a garage full of parts. Once all the pieces and parts were back at Jon’s place a plan was laid out of what they had, and what they still needed to perform the build that Jon had running around in his head.

Now here is where the build takes a bit of a turn from most traditional 510 builds. You see, Jon was not a hardcore 510 guy prior to this, so he did not have any real preconceptions as to how people tend to build them. Instead, Jon took the route that he knew, which is hot rods and muscle cars, resulting in the build you see before you. I can tell you now Jon’s version of a 510 has been embraced by as many people as it has been shunned, but hey, variety is the spice of life, and if we all built our cars the same—wouldn’t life get boring real quick? Let’s dig into some of the details of the 510’s transformation.
Jon maintained the same L18 that limped the Datsun onto the trailer the day he purchased the car, but had it completely freshened. A set of flattop pistons were dropped into place to up the compression, then an A87 peanut head that was sent off to Rebello so that they could work their machining magic on it. Other notable goodies utilized on the engine include: a D.A.M.B. cam, 45 Weber side draft carbs, an electric distributor, MSD ignition, and an AFCO racing radiator. Some shine appeal comes from chroming the header, and a polished valve cover. This finished package was estimated to put out around 200hp.

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With the engine dialed in, Jon focused on an equally impressive gear box. As luck would have it a NOS 280Z 5 speed gear box was located from a collector who had bought out a dealership. The pristine gearbox was paired up with Subaru STI limited slip differential, as well as STI CVs.

Now it was time to focus on the 510’s suspension, which naturally had to equal the driveline. Just of few of the mentionable components include:  Adjustable camber plates, T3 coil overs, KYB inserts and shocks, Suspension Technique sway bars, shortened Dodge D50 springs out back, MD Machine bump steer spacers, a steering box brace, and a Pnultimate slotted rear cross member. Aiding in the 510’s road performance is a set of Rota RB wheels wrapped in Yokohama 195/50/R15 tires.
The Datsun’s body was worked to perfection, and its trade mark rear vents removed before being shot with coats of red and creme BASF urethane base and clear. The paint was then wet sanded and buffed to a mirror finish.

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Moving inside the 510 we find full custom leather interior, including wrapped Pro Car seats. Billetspecialties components abound in the form of window and door cranks as well as the steering wheel. Vitals are monitored on Dakota Digital gauges, and a HURST shift knob keeps gear changes comfy. The interior is tied together by an integrate roll cage that eliminates the rear seat. A Painless brand wiring kit brings everything to life including the massive, but cleverly hidden Rockford Fosagate stereo system.

In the end Jon’s 510 became a mix of some traditional touches mixed with a heavy dose of hot rod and muscle car influence. Love it or hate it, you will not pass yourself driving down the road in this 510, and I believe that is always a good thing. The car world can certainly survive without another cookie cutter build. Keep an eye out for this hot little 510 tearing up the streets of the Willamette Valley.

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Hot Rod Pile Up

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Have you ever been invited to a “Pileup?” Neither had I, that is until last August. I didn’t know what a Pileup was really but it seemed safe enough. The card said it started at 2pm, bring a side dish or dessert & beverage, with BBQ served at 6pm. Ah ha! Sounds like a food type gathering, not unlike many family and friends type summer outdoor happenings.
I still didn’t really know what it was or was for and then I read the invitation from the top. I never read things from the beginning. I always read who it’s from, who it’s to, when, you know get the high lights and then I think I know something.  I read assembly instructions the same way, if I read them at all.  But that usually only happens after a couple failed attempts at assembly. I’ve heard it said that’s a “guy thing,” whatever that means.

At the top of the invitation it said 2015 Hotrod Pileup!  OK, now it’s beginning to make more sense. It was from Jim Lindsay, the author of “Little Bastards.”  Apparently he has an annual get together at the family farm in Shedd, Oregon. Also apparently he invites his many friends and acquaintances that are into, what else? Hot Rods, to drive their Hot Rod and come spend a summer afternoon checking out each other’s cars, talking, eating and just plain enjoying each other’s company. Pretty cool, Huh?

Naturally, I had to drive my daily driver, since none of my “Hot rods” are usable yet. Though the ’48 Ford did drive across the driveway from one shop to another just last week. No windows, lights, paint or completed interior but the clutch didn’t chatter, the engine sounded like any flathead with glass packs and it stopped on its own.  Pretty cool, I thought. But, the turnout was impressive both in number and uniqueness of cars in attendance. There were some really nice looking restorations and or hot rods.

I had no idea that there were so many car guys out there in farm country but there sure is. Check out the pictures and you see what I mean.  I want to tell Jim thank you for the invitation it was a fun “Pileup,” and despite the name, I’m not aware of any injuries.

Jim tells me he is working on his latest book. We’ll let you know when we know more.

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Petersen Auction Group Salem Auction

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In October the Northwest’s own Petersen Auction Group held their Salem Auction at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. This one was the third and final auction for 2015.

The auction offered nearly 80 vehicles, some antiques, some modern muscle, some hot rods, in general some interesting and fun cars and trucks.  The first things to “cross the block” are usually automotive memorabilia. There is often restored service station gas pumps, air & water stations, signs and other collectibles. I like these nostalgia pieces, though I really don’t have any room for them.  The restored items are always beautifully done and are items we would all be proud to own.

The real fun began around 10 a.m. with a 1972 GMC Pickup crossing the block. The third car was a very well preserved 1971 Mercedes 250, 4dr. sedan. It appeared to be all stock and well cared for. I couldn’t believe it was a 44 year old car. A friend of mine bought it. Since he had two cars there I helped him get his daily driver home after the auction, he drove the Mercedes. His report was that he loved the car, everything worked, it ran great and he was fortunate to have gotten it.

February 2016 begins a new year of Petersen Auctions. Again at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, all inside, warm and dry on Saturday February 6th. See their ad in this issue for contact info for consignments or visit their website, www.petersencollectorcars.com. You just might find your next fun vehicle at the auction.

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The Original Canby Oregon Harvest Swap Meet

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One of my friends laughs at me and I don’t know why. Well, maybe I have an idea but he seems to usually be there with me so … You see he makes fun of me and rust. His comments include, “You must have rust in your veins, or grease … We often go to swap meets together and I’m usually found gazing in wide eyed wonder at some rust colored treasure that he hasn’t a clue about. He’ll ask “what’s that,” or he might just shake his head, turn away and chuckle as I stop to study some unidentifiable old part. He just doesn’t get it.

We do have different tastes in collectible cars and trucks but there is crossover. He sees humor in my knowledge of this part or that part for some old American car, while he on the other hand knows way to much about old Porsches, BMW’s, Auto Union (Is that a car brand?) or Mercedes.

Swap meets are a great place for us car guys to go find parts and pieces or even whole cars for future and current projects. The Canby Harvest Swap meet never disappoints. Usually in early October with a lot undercover at the Clackamas County Fair and Event Center, you might find just what you’re looking for.

This years’ swap meet was a pretty good one. I took some unneeded but usable stuff and I sold everything I took except for one piece. I also found somethings that I just couldn’t live without, though I’m happy to say I brought home far less than I took. My friend sort of took a car and brought home a different one. I must say, things were changing hands at a brisk pace.  Put this one on your to do list for next fall. Oh, and next month, in January, don’t forget the NWDRA Performance Swap meet. (See coming events this issue) One of my favorites too.

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A True One Owner

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This is the story of a car that never left home.

I was Service Manager at the local Mopar dealership in the 60s, so I got to see a lot of neat cars go through the shop. It was late summer in 1969 and I had received some shop manual updates, and in the packet was a picture of the new 1970 Dodge Challenger that was going to be released. It had a lot of different engine options and was pretty cool looking. My wife was the title clerk in the same dealership so I took the picture in and said “what do you think?”

She also liked it, so we started talking about getting a new car. I currently had a ‘68 Plymouth with no power steering or power brakes, which she hated.

So one evening I met with the boss’s son to order a new Challenger. Now remember that they had not been released yet, so we were ordering one sight unseen. We sat down and started going through the order book.

Well let’s do the R/T package, as that had the better suspension and some little extras. I guess we had better add the SE Edition, as this gave you the leather front seats (no fine Corinthian leather in those days), small back window and upper console. Let’s just order the standard steel wheels with dog dish hubcaps as I will have a set of mag wheels by then. Incidentally, the dog dish hubcaps are still in the paper wrappers and in the box they came in. They have never been installed!

Let’s do a stripe delete on the hood and side stripes as they would fade badly, and I didn’t want to mess with that. Let’s not worry about power windows or A/C as I/we won’t be keeping it very long. We also added a rear luggage rack as the trunk was pretty small. I knew the rack would at least hold a case of beer. We also added the new AM 8 track radio which still has a Jim Croce tape in it.

We had pretty well spec’d out the car. It was going to be Plum Crazy Purple with a black vinyl top. The first comment by one of my friends was, “Why did you order purple, are you OK?”

The last thing to do was decide on the engine. The boss’s son said, “What about the motor?” I wasn’t sure so he pulled out a coin and said “heads 440, tails Hemi.” He flipped the coin and it came up heads. I had thought of a hemi, but they had kept us busy in the shop and I was looking for something to go out and play at night and not have to mess with. Little did I know what these cars would be worth. Besides I was going to order a new car next year and would put a hemi in it.
So the order was placed, now the waiting game. The total was $4300.00, how in the world will we pay for this?

I received confirmation that it had been built and shipped, once again the wait. The boys in the shop knew to keep me informed if a car transport showed up. One afternoon I get a holler from the back of the shop.
“Denny you need to see what is on this transport.” She was here. Out the door I went to take a look at her as this was the first one to come to the dealership and the first in town. Wow, that picture didn’t do it justice, it was neat!
The transport driver was unchaining it and I said, “that’s my car, do you mind if I back it off the transport?”
He laughed and said “I’ll help you.”

Boy was that sweet. It immediately went into the new car prep stall to get prepped. While he was prepping it I had one of the guys mounting the new mags to go on her.

1970-Challenger-engine

My wife and I decided we would wait until Friday night to pull her out on the street. Those were the days when cruising was a big deal and legal in our town. Friday evening we rolled out onto Main Street to make the first loop. That purple car was attracting a lot of attention as it was the first Challenger in town.

It was November of 1969, and that was the same year that my wife and I decided to take up the sport of snowmobiling. We didn’t know in those days that you were supposed to have a big diesel pickup with 4-wheel drive and fancy enclosed trailer, so onto the Challenger went a frame mount trailer hitch and we towed a 2 place sled trailer behind it for 5 years!
By the way, we now have a big diesel 4-wheel drive and enclosed trailer to haul the sleds!

As time went by my wife started to drive it to work and it went through the usual fads. Remember when side pipes were in? Yep, she had a set but they didn’t like the snow in the winter so they came off.

I continued working in dealerships and, most dealerships allowed the service manager to have a demo, so the car started to sit. At the time it had to sit outside a lot and the sun started to take its toll on her. Sitting outside, people would stop by asking if it was for sale. I would tell them, “No, I am going to restore her.” Then I would get the look like “yeah, I have heard that before.”

As time went by and the Mopars became popular I told my wife, “Let’s get the Challenger back on the street.” This was about 25 years ago and replacement parts were hard to come by.

It came completely apart. All the suspension off and almost a frame off resto. The top was replaced and front seat covers also.  The rear seat was okay, as it probably never had more than 4 people in the back seat. If you look in the back you know why nobody would get back there!

A lot of the pieces we carefully cleaned and reused, as nothing was available. I learned how to polish stainless and detail some of the pieces.  I used all of the original glass except the windshield, but was able to find an NOS windshield to go in it.
We buffed the other glass as best we could. I have people ask about the scratches in the glass and I explain that in those days we didn’t have a fancy ice scraper to clean windows, it was normally a metal spatula. I wanted to keep the original glass and as many of the original parts on it as possible.

1970-Challenger-interior

I would say that 98% of the car is original parts that were cleaned or reconditioned. After about 2 years of work, she was finally finished. Then guess what? With all the pretty new paint I didn’t want to drive her, so she sat a lot covered up.
As I started the restoration on my first car, a ‘63 409 SS Impala which Ed featured in one of his first editions, I got to thinking that we need to start driving that purple car. We can always fix paint, so three years ago I took it to the Goodguys show in Loveland, CO. It was the first show she had been to in year. She was awarded the Mopar Muscle award.
Then that Impala came along. I would take the Challenger to some local shows and it was funny when someone would come up and say “is that your original Challenger? I didn’t know you still had it.”

We recently took it to the Goodguys Southwest Nationals in Scottsdale, AZ. and received another Mopar Muscle Award. It’s fun to talk to people when they find out it is a one owner car and we tell them some of the experiences we have had over the years. As all car people know, it is a great feeling to get into one of these old cars, fire it up and remember the fun we have had in them. Remember, the days of the church key that you got when you purchased a six pack of cold adult beverages? Well, the church key still rides in the ashtray where it has been for 46 years. Incidentally it has had some use over those years, but not now due to modern engineering and the invention of pop tops.

After all these years we have decided we will keep that old purple car, as we have had a lot of fun in her and many fond memories. So, we always have to grin when we hear someone say, “I used to have one like that.” I always tell them, “we were so poor we couldn’t afford anything else and had to keep it so long it became valuable.” Lol.