Today we’re examining a car that’s probably on many muscle car restoration wish lists, the 1970 Dodge Challenger.
In 1970 Dodge made an effort to ‘challenge’ (pun INTENDED!!) the Ford Mustang’s reign over the pony car market by introducing it’s own. The Challenger did in fact live up to it’s name. It outsold every other pony car in it’s flagship year except for the Mustang and the Camaro. It even out performed it’s ‘sister’ model, the Barracuda. (Both the Challenger and the Barracuda had the same Class-E body type)
Most experts and auto restoration aficionados believe that the major contributor to the Challenger’s success was the plethora of options that Dodge made available to buyers. They offered nearly every engine in Chrysler’s inventory, excluding only the puny 198-slant six.
The most powerful engine upgrade for the Challenger in 1970 was, of course, the Hemi. This 426 cubic inch beast could get 425 horsepower on the chassis dyno tester! Other upgrades included two powerful 440 cubic inch V8s, the “Magnum” and the “Six Pack” that pumped out 375 and 390 horsepower respectively.
All of these features combined to make the ’70 Challenger immensely popular. The total production run that year was over 83,000 units. With that many produced, it’s one of the easier cars to find if you’re looking for a restoration project.
That said, fully restored Challengers are still fetching a pretty penny in online auctions. Recently we saw one with a $175K asking price!
Today we’re gonna take a gander at a great muscle car rebuild option – the 1965 Plymouth Barracuda.
This iconic pony car was introduced a year earlier in what was essentially a souped up Valiant frame. In all honesty not much changed in ’65 except for a slightly adjusted front grille and some beefier standard engine options under the hood. These two reasons alone, however, make a good argument for you to choose it as your auto restoration project.
With the enormous success of Ford’s Mustang model that came out at the same time Plymouth wanted to make the Barracuda a bit sportier to keep up. The newly adjusted grille, combined with the sleek fastback body design was a big hit for them. Sales increased by 175% in just a year!
To further compete with the mustang Plymouth also added more power to the Barracuda in ’65. The tiny 170 inch-er was replace with a 225 inch slant six which delivered a decent 145 horsepower during chassis dyno testing. For the upgraded Formula S model, Plymouth offered a 4-barrel 273 inch V8 which kicked out 235 horsepower. Additional options for the Formula S were suspension upgrades, larger wheels and tires, special emblems and a tachometer.
In ’65 the Barracuda went for around $3,000 depending on the options. Today, we’ve seen fully restored ones go for around $25K-$30K at auction.
This week we’re going to be looking at a car that, in our opinion, often gets over looked in the muscle car restoration cliques across the country – the 1971 AMC Javelin.
Originally an upgraded AMX, the Javelin restyled it’s entire body in ’71, ushering in the second (and sadly, last) generation for the model. The new design was so drastic in fact, that AMC made excuses for it in it’s brochure saying that it’s, “Styling [was] so hairy we even risked turning some people off.” While this isn’t exactly a glowing recommendation, it seems that it was right on the money. Sales dropped almost 4% compared to 1970.
Some of the changes made that year however are actually what give the car its flare, and the reason we fully endorse the ’71 Javelin as a top auto restoration choice. These include a slick new integral roof spoiler and sculpted fender bulges that were a nod of the hat towards the popular Corvette design. The Javelin also got a touch longer in ’71 and the wheel base was wider. All of these factors led famed author Richard M. Langworth to describe the car as having, “the wet T-shirt look: voluptuous curves with nary a hint of fat.”
The body design was not the only change for the Javelin that year. Under the hood saw a serious upgrade as well. In place of the top engine choice from ’68-’70, the 390 V8, AMC kicked it up a notch with a brand new and beefy 401 cubic inch V8! This bad boy scored well during chassis dynamometer testing and was able to make a quarter mile in the mid-14 second range.
In most internet auctions we’ve come across you can pick up a fully restored Javelin for anywhere from $10K-$25K.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if you walk into any auto restoration services facility in Los Angeles (or anywhere for that matter!) and ask their mechanics for the top ten best looking muscle cars of all time, the 1969 Charger would make the list.
It’s a real beauty. So much so, in fact, that it was featured prominently on a hugely popular TV show, ‘The Dukes of Hazzrd’. (yup, The General Lee was a ’69 Charger!) Dodge didn’t change design much really from the ’68 model. The only aesthetic upgrades were a new divided front grille and unique longitudinal tail lights. The results made for a sleek and stylish car that still packed a ton of balls. You can’t go wrong in choosing the Charger for your muscle car restoration project.
The only disappointing thing about the 1969 Charger was the engine that came standard in the base model. For some strange reason, Dodge decided to downgrade the base engine to a six cylinder that was rated at a miserly 145 horsepower. (At least they dropped the starting price of this model to $3,020 to make up for it!) Of the other 6 engine choices available across the board in ’69 the 426 cubic inch ‘Street Hemi’ was by far the standout. It produced a massive 425 horsepower during chassis dyno testing and even helped the Charger set a record as being the first muscle car to break 200 miles an hour in a lap.
With five models released in 1969, auto restoration aficionados have a lot to choose from. This means that the price range for fully restored units is extremely large as well. We’ve seen the base model (We recommend avoiding the base model Charger unless you’re looking to replace the slant six engine entirely) go for around $15K-$25K and some of the other models get up to $100K at auction!