GREET­INGS FROM THE GRAVE

GREET­INGS MY FRIENDS AND LOYAL GHOULS É

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - BY MARK WORMAN

Wel­come back to Mopar Mus­cle and my monthly edi­to­rial. It’s been an honor shar­ing my thoughts with all of you and hear­ing the pos­i­tive feed­back. Thank you to all of you who have writ­ten me and com­mented on our so­cial me­dia — we re­ally do lis­ten. The fact is, I’ve al­ways lis­tened to your feed­back over the years (some pos­i­tive, some neg­a­tive, but all hon­est) and we’re con­stantly try­ing to im­prove Graveyard Carz while heed­ing your ad­vice and in­put. I’m con­vinced that this at­ten­tion to our fans is why we just fin­ished air­ing Sea­son 9 on Ve­loc­ity and will be back in Oc­to­ber with Sea­son 10. I’m so ex­cited to see where to­mor­row leads us.

In 1987, I re­ceived a phone call from a guy I knew who saw an ad in the Money Saver for a 1970 Challenger R/T in Philo­math, Ore­gon. The ad stated it was a “440 Mag­num with a Pis­tol Grip 4 speed.” The only other text in the ad was “doesn’t run” and “Ask­ing $2,600.00.” As soon as I got off the phone I called the num­ber listed in the ad and quickly ar­ranged to see the car the next day. Philo­math is a lit­tle less than 50 miles from Spring­field, so I couldn’t take off the same day — or I sure would have.

I drove up to Philo­math the next day and looked at the car. It was sit­ting be­side an old farm house, back up off the road. I knocked on the door and a gen­tle­man came out and in­tro­duced him­self as the owner of the car. He told me that he had owned the car for a few years. The pre­vi­ous owner — a friend of his — had got­ten into drugs, ran a bill up on the car at a lo­cal re­pair shop, and couldn’t pay the bill. This gen­tle­man

stepped up and bailed the car out and that’s how he be­came the owner.

The car was very nice with no vis­i­ble rust. The en­gine ap­peared to be orig­i­nal at a glance, ex­cept the heads had been changed and were blue in color — as op­posed to the orig­i­nal Hemi Or­ange. The in­te­rior was a lit­tle rougher than the ex­te­rior though, miss­ing a few pieces such as the driver’s door trim panel and con­sole. The trunk floor would need to be re­placed, as would one area around the bat­tery box. After look­ing the car over I got out a flash­light and some carb cleaner on a rag to check the en­gine and trans­mis­sion num­bers. Sure enough, they matched the VIN. She was all num­bers match­ing.

After a cou­ple of hours, I of­fered the guy $2,000 for the car. He said he could take less than the ask­ing price, but not that much less and counter of­fered at $2,200. Coin­ci­den­tally, that’s ex­actly how much I had on me and could af­ford — so I took the deal. I went back the fol­low­ing week­end with my friend’s truck and trailer and brought it back to my lit­tle three-bay shop, Welby’s Car Care, lo­cated on the West side of the Coast To Coast ware­house. It used to be their TBA (Tires, Bat­ter­ies and Ac­ces­sories) store back in the ’70s, when they had a re­tail store up front. After re­plac­ing the fuel and the bat­tery, I got the car run­ning. It ran su­per hard; the tires were shot, and I didn’t have money for new ones at the time, so I took the car home and put it in my garage — the same garage that would later be home to my 29K orig­i­nal-mile Su­per­bird.

So, long story short, a cou­ple of years passed, and busi­ness wasn’t great. Ev­ery month was an­other strug­gle to pay rent ($300 a month), lights, phone, and phone book ad­ver­tise­ment. Yes, back then the phone book ads were how you got your busi­ness out there. Oh, and if you didn’t pay your monthly dues for the ad, old Ma’ Bell dis­con­nected your phone. Yep, good old mem­o­ries for sure. I ended up hav­ing to sell the car to keep my doors open. I hated it at the time, but look­ing back, I’m glad I was able to weather the storms of new busi­ness star­tups.

To ad­ver­tise and sell the car, I sold it to a lo­cal flip­per who would prob­a­bly make money on the car quickly, but he had cash so it was OK. We ar­ranged a time for him to come look it over and we met there at my house. He ac­tu­ally brought a friend of his over with him. I didn’t know this other per­son but fig­ured they were bud­dies. Well, after driv­ing the car around the block and look­ing it over, Wayde of­fered me $4,500 for the car. I ac­cepted it and he went to his car. He came back with Zi­ploc bag­gies full of money. (I never did quite un­der­stand that, but maybe it kept the money

fresh.) After I handed him the ti­tle, he turned to his friend, Paul, and said, “If you want it, it’s $5,500.” Paul smiled and reached in his pocket to pull out a wad of dough and pro­ceeded to count out 55 large. That’s big boy talk for $5,500. I’ve bought and sold a lot of cars, but I’ve never made a $1,000 profit in two hours with no risk — good buy-and-sell job, Wayde.

Paul, the guy who bought the car, was ex­cited to have the Challenger, as he was on a roll. You see, he had just pur­chased and sold a very rare Challenger R/T, the kind that is truly “once in a life­time”. He had bought a lo­cal Pay­less Drug­store race car, 1970 Challenger R/T, 426 Hemi, four-speed, Plum Crazy, with only 330 miles on it. I know he wouldn’t ap­pre­ci­ate my shar­ing how much he made on the car, but I knew it helped him pay off his house. Paul had hoped for the same gran­deur with my old car, but let’s face it, a 440 is no Hemi. R code vs. U code = $$,$$$.$$.

Over the next seven years, the num­bers-match­ing Challenger sat in a garage wait­ing for the right buyer. Even­tu­ally, Paul had dropped his price to $7,500, which for the day, was still a healthy in­vest­ment for some­one. And guess who that some­one was — Daren, aka “Chips,” from the first four sea­sons of Graveyard Carz. While Chips did like the car, he never took the ini­tia­tive to res­tore it. He had a friend of his re­build the en­gine and in­stall an in­sane camshaft that had so much lift that the valves hit the pis­tons. He had the front sus­pen­sion pow­der­coated, and I painted the bot­tom side of the car for him. For the most part, that’s about all he did to the car.

Fast-for­ward to Oc­to­ber 2014, Daren was no longer on the show, and he de­cided to sell the car. I found a buyer who not only loved the car, but also would have us res­tore it as well. It took Graveyard Carz ap­prox­i­mately 24 months to com­pletely res­tore this 1 of 916, Dodge Challenger R/T, with a 440 and a four-speed. It was fea­tured sev­eral times through­out the se­ries and would be­come one of the most beau­ti­ful cars we’ve ever done. Fi­nally, this rare gem got the recog­ni­tion and treat­ment it de­served.

Some of the things that make this car so rare and de­sir­able are its op­tions and col­ors. It’s FC7 Plum Crazy (the most pop­u­lar color on Dodge mus­cle cars in 1970). It was op­tioned with the V1X black vinyl top and V6W white lon­gi­tu­di­nal stripe over black leather in­te­rior. What a beauty. In fact, prior to just a cou­ple of months ago, it was the only Challenger I had seen with this ex­act color/stripe com­bi­na­tion.

On that note, al­low me a quick di­gres­sion. Re­cently, I had a re­turn­ing client send me a 1970 Challenger R/T “V” code — yes, a 440 Six Pack, four-speed Challenger in FC7 with V1X and V6W. Can you be­lieve it? After never see­ing the com­bi­na­tion be­fore, one shows up on my doorstep. Or should I say head­stone? Be­ing this is 1 of only 847 ever made, it may be the only

one ever built this ex­act way. Stay tuned for the restora­tion be­gin­ning in Sea­son X (that’s cool talk for sea­son 10). It sounds a lit­tle smug, but we’ve earned that X.

Chips’ for­mer car re­ceived a trunk floor re­place­ment and dam­age re­pair to the left quar­ter near the tail­light. The left front apron was re­placed, along with var­i­ous small patches at the bot­tom of the quar­ters. All of the sheet­metal on the car was orig­i­nal Dodge, in­clud­ing the cor­rect “non-crush zone” hood. The orig­i­nal seats (in­clud­ing a six-way driver seat) were re­stored us­ing Leg­endary soft trim from our friends at Classic In­dus­tries. Classic In­dus­tries also pro­vided all of the re­place­ment OER parts as well. Jamie from Pas­son Per­for­mance went through the num­bers-match­ing Hemi four-speed trans­mis­sion. The orig­i­nal Dana 60 (3.54) just needed new seals and brakes. Our friends at In­stru­ment Spe­cial­ties re­stored the very nice orig­i­nal dash assem­bly to OE stan­dards. PPG pro­vided the DBC 2210 basecoat and DCC 2002 polyurethane clear coat. 3M is our ex­clu­sive ven­dor for all things in the body shop and their qual­ity shows glow­ingly in our fin­ished prod­uct. Spe­cial thanks to Tony’s Mopar Parts for the replica A-pil­lar trim, date-coded re­pro­duc­tion clutch fan and fan blade. The pam­pered ride home to New Jersey was com­pli­ments of Re­li­able Car­ri­ers. And with that, the leg­end of the U code 1970 Challenger R/T comes to a close.

Thank you all for read­ing my ar­ti­cle and don’t hes­i­tate to let me know your thoughts and feed­back. You can email me at mopar­revival@ya­hoo.com. Also, don’t for­get we’re back this Oc­to­ber with all new episodes of Graveyard Carz. As al­ways, we’re hon­ored to share your liv­ing room for an hour, one night a week.

Un­til next time, re­mem­ber, “Al­ways reach just be­yond your grasp.”

~Mark Worman

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