1970 Dodge Challenger Trans Am

The following write up was what I used for my car show placard when I showed my Challenger T/A at car shows.

Article and Photos by Challen Yee

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1970 Dodge Challenger Trans Am

By Challen K. Yee with excerpts from “Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda” by David Newhardt (2000)

“Chrysler was a bit tardy in getting a factory entry into the SCCA Trans-Am racing series. Both Ford and General Motors had been slugging it out with Boss 302s and Camaro Z-28s. “The gang at Mopar wanted some racing glory to rub off onto their line of street cars, so they dove into the fray for the 1970 season. The rules required that the manufacturer build 2,500 street models of its racing car. To this end, Chrysler released All-American Racers (AAR) `Cuda and its cousin, the T/A Challenger…

“2,142 Challenger T/As were put on the road. All of these were built in a five-week period in March and April of 1970.

“Unlike the racers, which had to use a 340-ci engine destroked to 303.8 ci and topped with a single four-barrel carburator, the street versions were powered by a Six-Pak-equipped [three two-barrel Holley carbs combining for over 1300 cfm] 340-ci engine.

“The iron block was stressed relieved, and the main bearing area, while delivered with a two-bolt main, had plenty of material for the fitting of four-bolt main bearing caps. [Furthermore, the block had a higher nickel content and the heads were also a special T/A item designed to allow more radical porting by the use of an offset rocker arm system which relocated the valve pushrods].

“The engine was rated at 290 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, but redline came up at 6,500. “The Challenger T/A was modeled after the Trans-Am racer Sam Posey wheeled around the Trans-Am series. Its fiberglass hood was influenced by the belly air scoop on the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, and Dodge pulled it off beautifully.”

(The following excerpts are from David Newhardt’s “Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda”).

The standard rear axle set was 3.55:1 which according to Car & Driver magazine’s July 1970 issue helped deliver 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.3 seconds at 99 mph. Optional gear sets included 3.91 and 4.10 housed in the mighty Dana 60. The transmissions, both the A-833 manual and the A-727 automatic were “big-block” pieces designed to be mated to the hot performing “small-block” 340. Some of the distinctive standard equipment on the T/A models were: front disc brakes, E60x15 Goodyear tires in front and G60x15 on the back, higher rate front and rear sway bars, torsion bars and rear leaf springs, side exit exhaust, frame stiffening features, special stripe and decal treatments, fiberglass hood, and front and rear spoilers. Some of the many popular options included: fast ratio steering, rally gauges, dual painted mirrors, vinyl tops, and a myriad of awesome colors for both interior and exterior.

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The Annual Concours is no longer being held at Stanford University. Not sure for which political reason.

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Non-matching numbers TA engine out of a AAR Cuda that got totaled in the late 1970’s. The father of the owner saved it in a garage in central California until I bought it through an Ebay auction. The restoration was meticulously performed by Restorations By Julius in Chatsworth, CA.

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My friend Scott Douglas. “The Shelby Kid” and the Ford guy at school,  he’s owned several Ford products in his life including a Shelby like this one. Shelby’s are also one of my favorite non-Mopars, having been a Mustang owner in the past I had a lot of fun with the NorCal Shelby Club at open tracks.

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Simply one of my favorite non-Mopars, and with respect for my old departed friend Rick Elliott, who was the Chevy guy in school.

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Let’s end this article with my old garage queen MoPar. As life would have it, I no longer own this Challenger. Sure was nice.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2015 ChallenYee.com TheDodgeKid.com BestBuckBuck.com All Rights Reserved.

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1978 – 1985: The Days of My First Challenger

Note: This is a continuation of previous posts about experiences during my teenage years in the late 1970’s. I’ve been looking for the rare photos I had of the car but I haven’t been able to find the few I remember having. If I find them I’ll update this story’s photos (which I have with some old photos).

I recently was contacted by a few of my old high school streetmachiner friends who discovered this blog and it was a pleasant surprise to hear about some of their car experiences over the last decades. So it’s with you all of you guys in mind that I post this article, hope it helps bring back some pleasant memories.

It was a fun and fascinating time, those days searching for my first car. I had two close car buddies, Scott Douglas (The Ford Expert) and Rick Elliott (The Chevy Expert) who together through junior high school and the early days of high school, would spend more time than we should have day-dreaming about life cruising the streets, roads and highways. Rick was the first one to get his car, a 1955 Chevy Bel-Air Wagon which he wanted to restore, so it sat in his backyard for what seemed like years. Then Scott got his 1967 Mustang fastback, which he kept in his driveway as it went straight into customization mode, which over those early years became a local legend, a wimbledon white GT-350 styled ground pounder with gold stripes. Then I found my 1971 Challenger, which, by the way, was the first one that was able to be driven.

 

A summary of the High School Days with my first Challenger

 

The Family Outing

My dad and I checked out a lot of Challengers of all years, but in January of 1978, when I was 15, I finally found a Challenger with a combination I could live with that was under $2000. By this point, my mom was involved and I think she wasn’t interested in me getting a radical fire breathing monster. Funny how mom’s suddenly get involved when that critical moment materializes, as if she’s going to drive it. Buying a Challenger, my first car, becomes a bit of a family affair. We found the Blue Flash in some obscure used car lot in San Jose with about 42,000 miles, previously owned by an old lady. And as far as what you think Challengers are normally, it was a bit of an old lady’s car. It had a floor shift automatic and a 383 two barrel (which still had some awesome torque), single exhaust, no sway bars, dark metallic blue paint with a black vinyl top, power steering with a 5.2 turn box,  a salt and pepper interior with a cigarette burn hole in the back seat, air conditioning, and wire rim hubcaps with 70 series “Mohawk” Tires, and a unique trim package I’ve rarely seen since.  The price was $1700, or $1900 out the door. It ran great. At the time I had $1250, so my Dad helped me with the rest.

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Thanks to my brother Nick Yee, he uncovered this photo with highlights the original condition the 1971 was in before I started tampering with it with my teenage hands. Photo taken about 1978.

 

Some Random Reminiscing

As with many of the younger persuasion, I slowly began modifying and personalizing my Challenger. I will not go into extensive details here, but suffice it to say that as a young street machine freak, you just do as you feel and that is okay. It was all about whatever you can afford and whatever seems like a cool idea gets the nod of approval. This Challenger turned into my high school ride and also my ride into adulthood. The Challenger was a reliable partner through my high school days: having a really great time cruising with all the motorheads at school, wild burnouts in the back parking lot, road trips, and general partying. We were raising hell on the highways and byways and, fortunately, survived the experience and didn’t hurt others.

Worthy of MoPar note was the quickest car at school owned by Dale Mosher, a hemi-orange 1969 Dart with a 440 six-pack with a black vinyl top and 4.10s in the back. Truly a rad rocket.

 

The absolute best cruising night was in 1979 when a huge group of us got together to go cruising on a Saturday Night in San Mateo, California. We met in the back parking lot of Palo Alto High School and just about everyone showed up who had the car fever, including the blue Torino Wagon with the yellow dome light pulling unsuspecting motorists over (you know who you are, my friend). I could  start naming people but I’m sure I’d miss someone. If you were there, you’d remember those days before the “No Cruising” law. That strip on El Camino Real was absolutely packed.

We were living the mystique that is conjured in ones mind when you think of the “Muscle Car Era” all the while with Van Halen, AC/DC or Lynyrd Skynyrd blaring in the background. Actually it was the Oil Crisis Era, but we did not care. What was cool was my young nephew and niece used to cheer out, “Dukes of Hazard!” to the sounds of the big block Mopar or how some high school girls used to have their talks while sitting ON my car in the back parking lot at school, thinking it was cool place to hang out.

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This photo was taken by my Navy bud, Michael Avery. I think we were doing some backroad moto-ing in the National forest east of San Diego in 1981.

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This photo is from my Navy bud, Michael Avery, here I am probably at the Navy gas station or Navy DIY auto shop at Naval Training Center, San Diego in 1981.

 

 

A quick rundown of most of my modifications that occurred over time:

Edelbrock Torker,  a Holley 780 CFM with vacuum secondaries, topped off with a Moroso Low Profile Air Cleaner

Eagle Headers and dual exhaust with cross over and Thrush turbo mufflers, tail pipes dumping down over the rear axle

Windage Tray, B&M shift kit, Accel Supercoil, and Mopar Electronic Ignition

American Vector 15×8(?) with Goodyear Polyglas GT G-60 back and F-60’s front (torsion bars needed to raise front end to clear tires)

Addco sway bars front and rear with urethane bushings

KYB Shocks with coils overs in rear (gave me another 1/2″ clearance for my tires)

Stewart Warner under dash mounted Tach

Ducktail T/A type rear spoiler

Sanyo Bi-Amp AM-FM Cassette indash strereo Jensen co-ax rear speakers and some small tweeters in front

Dual racing mirrors from the local Scherba’s Auto Store

 

In Closing

I could recall a bunch of stuff, but I just want to pitch something out there for you guys to chew on.

Thanks for reading.

First Challenger a 1971 as in the area it was stored while I was away serving overseas in the Navy after 1983.

First Challenger a 1971 as it was in the area it was stored while I was away serving overseas in the Navy after 1983. Friends said that the Amrican Vectors looked great when I was peeling out. When I find my photos of the car when it was stock, I’ll post them. Originally the car had longitudinal side “door-ding” moulding and the biggest piece of chromed pewter wrapped around front edge of the hood and fenders to give the bumper a wrap around look.

This early 1980's photo is of Scott Douglas, the Ford Expert, part of a triad friendship along with Rick Elliot, the Chevy Expert. When I had my Mustang, Scott was always ready to help me with whatever I needed.

This early 1980’s photo  of Scott Douglas, the Ford Expert, part of a triad friendship along with Rick Elliot, the Chevy Expert in the early days at Palo Alto High School. When I had my Mustang, Scott was always ready to help me with whatever I needed.

A partial gathering of the PASM Association, the Palo Alto Street Machine Association. Photo taken by yearbook staff in1979. I was on the yearbook staff that year, so I made sure we got this photo in. Too bad one of my friends decided it was cool too draw over it with his pen. Location, the back parking lot of Palo Alto High School.

Just a partial gathering of the PASM Association, the Palo Alto Street Machine Association. Photo taken by yearbook staff (1979) . I was on the yearbook staff that year, so I made sure we got this photo in. Too bad one of my friends decided it was cool to draw over it with his pen. Location, the back parking lot of Palo Alto High School. Ready for exhibition speed at the slightest provocation.

Three of my Industrial Arts teachers at Palo Alto from 1976-1980, from left to right, Bud Jamison (Architecture), O.D. Mitchell (Auto Shop), and Bob Hoskins (Metal/Algebra/Geometry). All of my teachers were great, but Mr.Mitchell was my favorite through 4 years of Auto Shop. Photo is from my 1979, Junior year, Yearbook.

Three of my Industrial Arts teachers at Palo Alto from 1976-1980, from left to right, Bud Jamison (Architecture), O.D. Mitchell (Auto Shop), and Bob Hoskins (Metal/Algebra/Geometry).Missing is Mr. Don Jang, my drafting teacher for 3 years.  All of my teachers were great, but Mr.Mitchell was my favorite and mentor through 4 years of Auto Shop. Photo is from my 1979, Junior year, Yearbook. I was class of 1980 but 1979 ROCKS!

I didn't know the PALY yearbook staff was not print my write up I submitted with my photo. At the discretion of some high schooler in 1980, I will only be known as the guy with his Challenger

I didn’t know the PALY yearbook staff was not print my write up I submitted with my photo. At the discretion of some unknown high schooler in 1980, I will only be remembered as the kid with his Challenger

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2015 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com BestBuckBuck.com All Rights Reserved.

Driving impressions on a Highway On-Ramp

Classic Mopar Driving Impressions – 440 Six Pack

CLICK ON PHOTO GO TO VIDEO (longer than my 15 second Instagram version) or click this link http://youtu.be/0aOvgD-J7cs

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Taking the Challenger out for a spin after running a couple of errands.
Highway on-ramps tend to be a logical place to get an acceleration video clip. I especially like taking to curves with the updated suspension. I would like an opportunity to push the suspension and the tires much harder than on this leisurely cruise onto the highway. The BFGoodrich 235x60x15’s are predictable and hold pretty well for all practical purposes on the street.

Jay Leno mentioned he uses Goodyear’s on his stock 15 inch rally on his 426 Hemi Challenger. I might try so of those next time if I can find them.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

Simmering over 440 Overheating Problems – Part 5 -FINAL

The long-awaited final part has finally arrived for the overheating issue.

I ran the Challenger without a thermostat for drives to get the maximum clearing effect to catch crud in the copper screen trap I installed in my upper radiator hose. I had also been draining my coolant after every extended drive to flush and dilute out as much old coolant and the green stuff as possible before I pour in the Water Wetter. 

I’ve read several accounts that Water Wetter mixed with normal anti-freeze/coolant will gum up your cooling system as well as not working or not working well. As I mentioned before, I used to run Water Wetter with distilled water in my old open track car. Spilling that on the track was less of  nuisance than dropping coolant. The best cooling is effected by using pure distilled water, but you need the anti-corrosive and lubricating properties of a product like Water Wetter added.

 

The thermostat gasket managed to last a few removals of the t-stat housing before it died so I replaced the gasket.

The drained coolant, after sitting for a day has what look like a powder sitting at the bottom of the plastic jugs I’ve been storing it in. I’m guessing its the remnants of Bar’s Stop Leak or something. With each draining, the amount is decreasing and is almost negligible now.

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top side (radiator end) of hiflow thermostat. Removing it from system to flush engine block at high RPM.

top side (radiator end) of hiflow thermostat. Removing it from system to flush engine block at high RPM.

Better cooling performance with a thermostat

I’ve heard that cars can run cooler with a thermostat rather than without one. I think it depends on the design of your cooling system and the positions of the inlet and outlets. On a typical engine with the inlet and outlet on the front, there is a certain amount of inefficiency in regards to the coolant that is in the rear of the engine.

What I noticed was that not only did the engine run cooler, based on my temperature gauge reading, but the subsequent draining yielded more fluid that smelled more like coolant and less like plain water. I take this to mean that there is better mixing of fluid coming back from the radiator in through the engine passages than without a thermostat.

The temperature gauge without the thermostat read in the low “normal”range, but after the thermostat was installed the reading in slightly below the “normal range.”

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Effect on water pump churning and installed thermostat

So, it appears, with the thermostat installed and resisting the flow of coolant back to the radiator, the water pump has time to churn the coolant inside the engine passages, allowing more mixing before the thermostat opens at the set temperature.

 

Some extra crud sitting in the upper hose. Clean it.

Some extra crud sitting in the upper hose. Clean it.

Here's the flakey cast iron crud, including some pieces of gasket seal. Also need to brush out crud from upper hose. Copper screen is reusable but check it before reinstalling.

Here’s the flakey cast iron crud, including some pieces of gasket seal. Also need to brush out crud from upper hose. Copper screen is reusable but check it before reinstalling.

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These are a few of the photos I took after before cleaning out the copper filter. I typically get a little less that what you see in this picture as of late.

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At first I was saving the crud from the filter, here is what was in the cooling passages (except for the washer).

At first I was saving the crud from the filter, here is what was in the cooling passages (except for the washer). I stopped collecting it.

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Catching debris before and after thermostat installed

I’ve been running the copper mesh at the top inlet of the radiator, held in place by the upper hose. Before and after the thermostat was installed, a consistent amount of small debris are being caught. They look like small pebble-like cast iron flakes from the water passages in the engine. One piece of copper mesh lasts several cleanings. High RPM runs causes a better flushing action as indicated by the amount of crud being caught.

This process would be a lot more efficient if you could pop the freeze plugs and flush out the engine that way, but if you can’t…. well it takes several rounds to clear out. I ended up adding the Water Wetter finally after I managed to drain out the coolant with just a whiff of coolant smell. The heated water comes out with a brown tint from going through the 200+ degree iron passages.

Here's my running collection of drained coolant. Notice the progression from top to bottom from the traditional 50/50 coolant water mix to virtually pure distilled water.

Here’s my running collection of drained coolant. Notice the progression from top to bottom from the traditional 50/50 coolant water mix to virtually pure distilled water. About 2.5 gallons every drain. You do the math. Yes, I’ve called it quits when it comes to draining. Before I put the thermostat back in I managed to get a non-coolant scent in the drain, but after I put the thermostat back in, I get at least a small scent from the drained coolant. Poinsettias not included.

 

Miscellaneous tips

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Lonesome Dove Fan Belt Tightening

How about it you are alone and need to tighten your fan belt. If you have a handy wooden-handled ax  like I have pictured, you can use that for leverage to extend your alternator after you loosen your holding screws.

 

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Just in case you were interested in reading the small print on the bottle.

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Pesky coolant drip from the lower radiator hose?

The lower radiator hose had a slow drip, so I sanded the outlet pipe with #80 grit paper and felt for any imperfections in the pipe. Then I used Permatex Aviation Form-A-Gasket Sealer #3 with the intention that I don’t want to have to think about any more leaking there. I only coated the radiator pipe and let it set for the required time before sliding the new uncoated hose on and clamping it. I did that to eliminate any possible dripping of sealant into the hose.

I used the same Permatex product on the thermostat housing. It’s a little messier than using silicon but I gave it a go and it works. Again, no intention of removing the housing unless I expect to replace the gasket. The thermostat should be sitting inside a recess in the T-stat housing and should be not interfering with the gasket. Clean the surfaces first of old gasket and sealant before applying the new sealant.

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Carb Backfiring

I’m not sure exactly what was causing my 440 to pop out the carbs, but the problem appears to have gone away except on rare occasion.

However, I have a few possible candidates for culprits.

After several high RPM runs (over 5000) I could have blown the combustion chambers cleaner or it could be the number 7 plug wire touch a header tube and had a couple inches of insulation burned away, cause for some arcing. I adjusted the routing of the wire away from the header.

I plan on replacing the plug wires later.

I would imagine any multiple carb set up could use some more tuning. Have to keep that for later. Also toying with the idea of replacing the old MP electronic ignition with a multiple spark discharge type.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

Highway Entry with Kids in Car

Out for a Sunday drive with the kids and testing a new video mount that I have attached to my dome lamp ring.

Click on image below to access a SHORT 15-second You-Tube video

 

Click for video

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ACCESS A SHORT 15-second YOU-TUBE VIDEO

 

 

video link you-tube:     http://youtu.be/-dnyiuaI9Ow
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An update about the cooling system

The car runs cool as a cucumber now after the radiator was hot tanked an reversed-flushed.

I’m still running the old coolant out of the engine as I have drained the coolant several times and have almost reaching the point where I’m running pure distilled water. I’ll write the last “Simmering of 440 Overheating Issues” later, but you may be interested to know the engine runs cooler with a thermostat. The reason is (based on my observations of the drained fluid) the thermostat allows the fluid to churn more effectively throughout the cooling passages in the engine. In other words, without the thermostat, coolant coming from the radiator tends to go directly back out the upper hose rather than being forced rearward into the engine to exchange more thoroughly with heated fluid. I’ll share my observation why I think this later.

Here is my collection of drained coolant from my 440. Notice the progression from left to right. I empty about 2.5 gallons per draining. I'm almost at a pure enough state I'm willing to add the Water Wetter. I have some observations about before and after installing the thermostat which I will share in a later article.

Here is my collection of drained coolant from my 440. Notice the progression from left to right. I empty about 2.5 gallons per draining. I’m almost at a pure enough state I’m willing to add the Water Wetter. I have some observations about before and after installing the thermostat which I will share in a later article.

 

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

I’d take that Whine anytime

Writer’s Note: This is a continuation of my flashback series about some of my teenage experiences with Challengers in the 1970’s.

 

If only I had the chance again…

 

Scanning the local papers for ads became my new religion.

I was getting pretty good at understanding all the cryptic abbreviations, like people trying to fit all the critical data into something smaller than a Twitter post. Little codes like: “stick” “PS” “PB” “dual” “383-2” “440-4″ ‘RT” “dana” “Rally” ” “AC” “disk” “console” “AT” “hemi” ‘6pk” “F60” “SE” “blk int” “needs paint” “needs body” “runs” “6cyl” “conv” “needs mech” “FAST” “dana60” “rblt eng.” “red” “green” “purple” “orange” “blue” “race” “lo mi” “4 sp” “side pipes” “headers” “Holley” “4 bbl” and so on – all these gave you some idea what was out there.

I’d see an ad for a Challenger and then dream about it every day until my dad and I could go check it out.

One time, there was a 1970 R/T with a 340, Plum Crazy purple with a black interior and white vinyl top, and a FOUR SPEED (again!). We went to check her out at a used car lot in Sunnyvale which was about 20 minutes away.

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A photo I found on Google and added special effects. It kind of resembles the first Challenger I ever rode in. My dad drove it on a test drive from a used car lot.

 

I remember this day like it was almost yesterday. The sun was shining, as the awesome purple colored R/T sat menacingly along the sidewalk on the lot of Hacienda Motors, facing El Camino Real like it wanted to tear the road apart.

I was still under-aged and gun shy of powerful 4 speeds, so I let my dad test drive. I thought that was really cool watching dad drive the car. He wasn’t a muscle car nut by my standards, but he enjoyed driving and always seemed to take my interest in Challengers seriously. To a kid growing up, that was a great affirmation that I wasn’t completely insane.

My dad didn’t spend much time with me playing catch or playing games or a lot of things that most people might expect but he did try to meet me where I was with Challengers and that says a lot to me as I look back.

This was the first time I ever rode in a Challenger as my dad had to fiddle with the reverse-lockout pistol grip  four speed shifter. It seemed like this could be a really decent car. Just the “340 Four Barrel” emblem on the scooped hood seemed to make this bad-boy scream ‘I am one ass-kicking muscle car’.

They wanted $2150.

I remember how it started and how great it was to hear the R/T pipes rumble, the symphony of mechanical parts permeating the air. This was no plain car, no way.

As dad got the R/T out onto the local side street, he applied the gas and started shifting gears, revving the engine, and glancing at the tach on the rally dash Everything seemed fine, except for this awful grinding sound that sprang up when we picked up some speed that crescendoed into some coarse mechanical whining that was about as loud as the exhaust.

My heart broke.

We chose not to get the car.

Looking back, the problem may have been a differential simple swap, but we figured we could find something better for the price – something that didn’t have any major problems.

It would sure be nice to have that one. A sweet car with a whine that nowadays couldn’t have been any sweeter.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

Simmering over 440 Overheating Issues – Part 4

Dealing with the potential roots of my overheating problem Saturday morning I started the relatively simple process of installing my tuned-up radiator but simple as it was, I had plenty of opportunities to slow down and make sure my installation was not going to create more problems. The first thing is to make sure the proper washers are installed to prevent damaging the radiator mounts on the rad and the 22 inch yoke which had been custom drilled for a 26 inch radiator. Once I had the radiator securely in place, my thoughts went to the lower radiator hose.

The old and new hose. New one does not have inside coils.

The old and new hose. New one does not have inside coils- which caused me to start thinking.

TO SPRING OR NOT TO SPRING? I bought a new hose and it doesn’t come with the spring like the old one. I’ve read many points of view on the lower hose spring and some people swear by it and others understand it was a necessary add in to prevent the hose from collapsing during the factory installation of the coolant which was done with a vacuum device to speed up the assembly process. Let me explain why I DID NOT install the old spring, which by the way had become three section, presumably because it had rotted. What I was confronted with was the amount of corrosion build up on the intake to the water pump.

The corrosion residue on the water pump end of the lower hose. The growth is matched on the water pump side. The coils are from the hose, in three pieces.

The corrosion residue on the water pump end of the lower hose. The growth is matched on the water pump side. The coils are from the hose, in three pieces.

Here's the same old hose on the rad end. Clean because I suspect there are no  electrochemical reactions occurring on this end.

Here’s the same old hose on the rad end. Clean because I suspect there are no electrochemical reactions occurring on this end.

YES, OPPOSITES ATTRACT – THEY ATTRACT CRUD For you plumbers out there, or sexual relationship experts, you know if you put two joints together that are dissimilar electrically, you will end up with a corrosive and ultimately a leaking joint. While my lower hose to water pump connection wasn’t leaking before, I believe the hose coil forced up against the water pump caused some electro-chemical reaction that creates this nasty crud (see the photos). The corrosion build up can be easily cleaned off with a wire brush. When you do this DO  NOT BREATHE THIS CRAP as it comes off like dust (I suggest wet it down first to reduce the dust) and wear gloves to protect your hands. It doesn’t take too much imagination that the corrosion from this joint, this little corrosion farm, like atherosclerosis, could have contributed to the crud in my radiator and my entire cooling system. This is basically a reason for your cooling system to have a stroke. So if you are going to use a coil inside your hose, it needs to be electrically neutral and able to handle the hot coolant environment.

Here's the nasty crud build up on the water pump inlet. before I wire brushed it.

Here’s the nasty crud build up on the water pump inlet. before I wire brushed it.

Here's how the coil and the water pump make contact and produce a prodigious amount of crud. Didn't think about this until I started the installation process.

Here’s how the coil and the water pump make contact and produce a prodigious amount of crud. Didn’t think about this until I started the installation process. The new hose, by the way, installed perfectly and was easy to slip on.

COPPER SCREEN – CRUD CATCHER OTF (on the fly) Instructions   The next job was to figure out how to install the copper screen on the upper rad connection. Basically poke the material so it is concave into the input and then use a scissors to trim enough material to fold over the edge of the input pipe so that the hose can hold it in place – but not too much that it interferes with where the clamp cinches down.

Here's how I roughly fit some copper screen into and around the lip of the upper rad inflow pipe. Then trim to size with a scissors.

Here’s how I roughly fit some copper screen into and around the lip of the upper rad inflow pipe. Then trim to size with a scissors.

Here is the copper screen fitted to the upper connection.

Here is the copper screen fitted to the upper connection.

Sliding the hose on and over the copper screen.

Sliding the hose on and over the copper screen.

And with the upper connection fully inserted into the upper hose. Copper screen should not interfere with the area involved with clamping to avoid leaks.

And with the upper connection fully inserted into the upper hose, I am ready to move clamp into position. Copper screen should not interfere with the area involved with clamping to avoid leaks. Ready to catch iron flakes and other debris that can clog the cooling system.

Here's a view of the upper tubes before I added distilled water into the hole.

Here’s a view of the upper tubes before I added distilled water into the filler hole. Compare that to my older photo (PART 2).

TEST DRIVE Preparing Next comes adding distilled water to fill up the radiator, then starting the engine. Adding more water as the level goes down getting sucked by the pump.. I ran the engine without the cap and waited until the thermostat opened up, and the old green coolant began running through the rad.   LET’S ROLL I took the car straight out to the highway and began some high RPM runs. Based on the temperature gauge, the engine was running noticeably cooler with the temperatures rising at a slower pace than before. I have a 5 speed (5th is 1:1) with 2.94 rear gearing so 4th and 3rd gear high speed runs got pretty exciting. The Mopar has a whole different life above 5000 RPM like it can go a lot faster. I still get this weird carb pop, but oddly enough it usually only happens once when I take the car out when I accelerated harder under load, or in a higher gear (depending on car’s the speed)- that’s another problem I need to work on later. Taking the Challenger back home, there were no weird burning smells. I idled the car on the driveway and took some temperature checks with my FLUKE laser thermometer.

After a couple of high RPM stretches on the highway, this is the maximum reading on my rally temp gauge. THe last shop visit including fixing this gauge which wasn't working. For the moment, my life centers around what this gauge does.

After a couple of high RPM stretches on the highway, this is the maximum reading on my rally temp gauge during the test drive and at idle in the driveway on my return. The last shop visit including fixing this gauge which wasn’t working- before fixing (replacing) the gauge, it barely reached the lower normal mark. For the moment, my life centers around what this gauge does.

This is the corresponding laser temp readout from around the thermostat housing with the temp gauge seen in previous photo. (about 218 F) after several high RPM blasts on the highway.

This is the corresponding laser temp readout from around the thermostat housing to the rally temp gauge seen in previous photo. (about 218 F) after several high RPM blasts on the highway.

Corresponding Upper tank temp - about 212F

Corresponding Upper tank temp – about 212F

Corresponding lower tank temp, about 165 F (almost 50 degree difference). But the undeterminable factor is flow potential which is what is improved by the hot tanking and back flushing.

Corresponding lower tank temp, about 165 F (almost 50 degree difference). But the key factor is flow potential which is what is improved by the hot-tanking and back flushing.

THEN the final test….. I turned off the engine.  AND I did not the massive full bottle regurgitation to the overflow unit.  Before, with the problem, the whole thing would fill up because of the overheating, but no longer! What I plan to do now, is drain out the coolant and then after it cools, pull the thermostat, fill up with distilled water again, run the car again then check the copper screen after the next cool down and draining. * * If you enjoyed this post, please LIKE SHARE COMMENT

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

Simmering over 440 Overheating issues – part 3

FIGHTING THE WAR AGAINST CRUD
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After soaking and rinsing my radiator with 100% distilled white vinegar at least 5 times letting it soak for at least a 1/2 day at a time,  I observed some demineralization but not enough. I could look down into some tubes and see that they were still clogged. I could still see crud at the tops of the tubes as I looked further down the upper tank in either direction from the cap hole.
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 So I considered whether I should get a new radiator or take mine to the shop to get it hot tanked or rodded.
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It’s tempting to shop for a new radiator especially since there are some much more efficient designs out there that are still stock looking, but sometimes you need to hold back from spending cash.
A local shop in nearby San Carlos recommended by my exhaust system guy.  Photo by Challen

A local shop in nearby San Carlos recommended by my exhaust system guy. Photo by Challen

For financial reasons as well as taking a step by step approach, I took my 3 row 26 inch radiator to a radiator shop called “Howard Ave.” in San Carlos, California, an easy drive in the morning before going to work.
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Turns out to be the kind of place I would patronize especially when they understand muscle cars and Vanishing Point, the 1971 movie. They frequently perform work on antique and rare pieces as well as run of the mill daily drivers. Plus, they are easily understandable over the phone.
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For $88 dollars they hot tanked the radiator, made some minor repairs, put a new coat of paint and provided me some copper screen to use as an upper hose filter.
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Talking to the guys about what could be giving me woes made me glad I did not buy a new radiator (at least until I need to rebuild the engine).
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CAST IRON DISEASE
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The guys, Rick and Bill, told me a couple of things about the engine blocks cast in the 60’s and early 70’s that I wasn’t aware of.  One, the casting material tended to release metal flakes which build up into crud and; two,  the water pump is positioned high in relation to the engine cooling passages which promote crud build up in the block that is not easy to flush out, that is, unless you pop the freeze plugs and blow out the crud from there.
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They said that the crud in my radiator is the residue from the cooling passages in the engine that made it to the radiator and it was likely a long term process. After the hot tanking, they said the radiator flowed much better even though it may seem okay before hot tanking. They managed  to get about 50% better flow after tanking and back flushing.
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They run a flow test by standing the radiator upright and filling the radiator from the bottom, waiting until the water comes out the input then releasing the bottom to let the water flow out. The distance the water shoots out forms the benchmark and is measurable.
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I’ve read some people suggest that the water flowing fully (taking up the whole orifice) is an indication that the flow is good, but my radiator, even with the clogged passages was able to do this. So I’m theorizing that that indication in itself is not an adequate indication for a performance engine.
Here's we're filling the rad from the bottom to do a flow test. When the water spews out the top for a second, let go and see how far the water jets from the bottom.  Photo by Challen

Here we’re filling the rad from the bottom to do a flow test. When the water spews out the top for a second, let go and see how far the water jets from the bottom. Photo by Challen

For a fragile radiator, heating up the upper tank to do rodding is not as desirable as it could damage the core, and fragile or thinned tubes could be damaged by rodding. This wasn’t the case for my radiator as it had plenty of strength for rodding but if good results can be had by hot tanking, it is much less risky and easier.
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Considering that I most likely have some weird leprosy-like condition in the engine block waiting for an engine rebuild to solve, I was glad I didn’t buy a 500-700 dollar radiator just to get clogged up by the fallout. (I sure would like to get one of those 4 row high efficiency radiators though – some other time). Also, I just became aware that my radiator yoke, the crossmember is for a 22 unch radiator and someone drilled wide to fit a 26 radiator. It’s cool, I’m not trying to create a show car.
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It’s still possible that crud in the block could still cause overheating problems even with a clear radiator.
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What they suggested to clear out the block without popping the freeze plugs, is what one did with his old Mustang that had cooling system leprosy: he made some high speed runs (150 mph) with an upper hose filter plus no thermostat and flushed his cooling system after each run to resolve his overheating problem. Whether he actually did 150mph or not, well… I get the idea.
Copper screen to be used as a crud catcher before the crud goes into the radiator (at least the big chunks). Photo by Challen

Copper screen to be used as a crud catcher before the crud goes into the upper radiator (at least the big chunks). Photo by Challen

This little education highlights a very important and unheralded aspect of engine rebuilding, renovation and  resolving cooling problems especially since we’re often dealing with over 40 year old technology or old blocks. Some additional attention can be given to your old muscle car’s long term maintenance if its stuck in a shop for a while, especially if the freeze plugs are ever easily accessible and you suspect a cooling problem or not, you pop them off and flush out your block of crud that is likely building up on your old Mopar.
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For the next engine rebuild, I’ll be giving careful attention to the cooling passages and any new technology that can offset the flaking of the old cast iron. Is that one reason they used more nickel in some blocks now and before?
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Anyway, I hope the hot-tanked radiator will get the engine to run cooler.
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In the meantime, if you see me driving around town at 5000 rpm or more, you’ll know why –  “Yes sir, officer, I’m treating leprosy.”

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

Simmering over 440 Overheating Issues – Part 2

SIMMERING and OVERHEATING Issues PART II

A progressive update on my working on my overheating problems.

I decided to to troubleshoot this problem one step at a time.

hiflowstat

Here a new Milodon hi flow thermostat, similar to the look of a hiperf Mopar piece I saw on Ebay.

CHANGING THE THERMOSTAT IS EASY

The first thing I did was change the thermostat. First I drained the coolant into a new 4 gallon oil drain container so that I can reuse the coolant if needed.

In preparation to replace the thermostat, I ordered a new gasket and some gasket sealant from Jegs, but I will continue to use the current gasket until it breaks or no longer seals. There’s sealant on both sides of the gasket, but I am able to remove the coupling without damaging the gasket. If you know you’re going to be disconnecting this joint several times, I’m not sure if I could have used a technique I used on my Mustang valve cover gaskets to allow reuse and ease of removal of the valve covers to adjust the mechanical lifters. If you do this trick on your valve covers, apply sealant to the valve cover and tack on the gasket to the valve cover. In the thermostat’s case, the gasket is tacked to the block side.

Parts I ordered that I didn't need.

Parts I ordered that I didn’t need. Save for next time.

BUSY TEACHING A LESSON

I forgot to take pictures of replacing the thermostat because I was busy explaining to my 10 year old son the idea of the Scientific Method in trouble shooting, changing one variable at a time to be able to isolate the effects on any given change.

Here' s the one that was in there, a no frills unit.

Here’ s the one that was in there, a no frills unit.

SIGHTING INSIDE THE UPPER TANK

With the coolant drained from the radiator, I could see I have a 3 core/row radiator and gunk covering or partially covering every down tube I can see from the opening.

Not good, though a probable indication where the problem is. The last time I sighted the upper tank channels I didn’t see this crud. After an experience like this, that coolant (what ever I am going to use) is going to be changed more often.

Yuk! This looks like chit.

Sighting into my rad after draining the coolant. Yuk! This looks like crud.

I took a small pick to check the consistency of the crud stuck in the upper channels and it breaks apart like mineral sediments despite the gooey looking appearance. Geez, that looks nasty.

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440 IS STILL LOSING ITS COOL

I took the car out for a drive around town and out on the highway and  I could sense even around town the temperature was slowly rising. By the time I made a high speed pass on the highway, the temperatures went high out of the “normal” temperature zone.

With the temp needle out of range and getting hotter as I approached my driveway, I started smelling what reminds me of overheated electrical or burnt electrical motor windings. Not sure what the source is but I’ve noticed the smell a couple times now when the engine gets too hot, hot enough to fill up my overflow unit to maximum capacity.

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SIMPLE TO REMOVE MANUAL TRANNY RADIATOR in your E-BODY

So I proceeded to take my radiator out to clean it. Removing the radiator on an old Ebody especially with a manual transmission (no tranny lines) is pretty simple. Removing the battery and washer bottle allows easy access to the four screws that mount the radiator tot he frame and then you can remove the four clips that hold the shroud to the radiator.

Removing the lower hose (after draining coolant) is easier if you remove the attachment to the water pump first, then using a blunt pointed object, push the lower hose connection off the lower radiator outlet as the coolant lubricates the operation.

Before lifting radiator out of car disconnect fan shroud and place protection like a fender cover over fan to avoid accidentally damaging radiator fins on fan blades.

Disconnect the fan shroud from the radiator and you do not need to remove the fan. Protect the radiator during lift out by placing a protective material (fender cover) to prevent gouging your radiator with the fan blades. Remove lower hose before lifting radiator out.

Disconnect the fan shroud from the radiator and you do not need to remove the fan. Protect the radiator during lift out by placing a protective material (fender cover) to prevent gouging your radiator with the fan blades. Remove lower hose before lifting radiator out.

I flushed out the residual coolant in preparation for cleaning.

I flushed out the small amount of residual coolant in preparation for cleaning.

 IS RODDING RADIATORS A THING OF THE PAST?

Well…. it depends who you talk to when you pickup the phone.

I made a couple of calls this morning to get a recommendation to get the radiator rodded out, but have not found one yet. One guy said this isn’t done much any more due to toxic materials. Not sure about that.

I spoke with another guy I’ve worked with and having some experience with restored cars was able to recommend a couple of radiator shops which I will keep in mind if I want to recondition my radiator. It certainly ought to be cheaper that buying a new radiator and the fit will be without question.

A sight at the lower tank and the bottom of the channels shows no indication of crud build up, so I am going to try loosening the crud at the top with distilled white vinegar (as suggested by my friend Jeff Marcey who lives in a hard water paradise).

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NON-TOXIC CLEANING TECHNIQUE -DISTILLED VINEGAR and DISTILLED WATER

instead to taking my radiator to get rodded out,  I went to the local grocery store and got what I needed to try the poor man’s approach to dislodging the mineral/crud buildup at the top go the radiator channels by using distilled water and distilled white vinegar. I’ve read using anything from full strength to 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water mixture. I suppose it depends how long you want to leave your parts soaking.

rad_cleaners

High Tech Materials from the local mexican grocery store

I’m trying laying the radiator flat and using boiling hot distilled vinegar water and soaking overnight, then draining (careful to notice any sediment or debris)  flushing out with the water hose and then rinsing out with distilled water. Inspect the upper channel crud level and repeat if necessary.

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WHAT COULD BE NEXT?

I would be nice if this works. BUT If there isn’t a dramatic improvement, I’ll have to think about what is next. Do I find a shop to rod out the radiator or go a for 4 core radiator for insurance and upgrade?

rad_hotH20

Using kitchen appliances for quick boiling of NON-TOXIC radiator cleaning solutions.

I just needed something to plug the overflow hole so my vinegar solution didn't drain on the ground.

Other use for overflow unit. I just needed something to plug the overflow hole so my vinegar solution didn’t drain on the ground. Looks like an IV.

BAKING SODA versus WASHING SODA

I’ve read people using an aftermarket flush or Arm and Hammer WASHING SODA (NOT baking soda) to neutralize the vinegar acidity. I suspect the rinsing qualities of Washing Soda is better. Maybe it’s finer, I don’t know. I’ll look for some the next time I’m at the store. I like these non-toxic ideas.

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BONUS – TALK

MUSING ABOUT GANO FILTERS

A word about GANO filters. GANO filters are a novel product that you install in the upper radiator hose. You need to cut a hose and  clamp the cut ends on the ends of a this clear plastic device with a wire mesh screen that traps crud coming from the engine before  it gets trapped in your radiator. It’s a great idea but let me suggest an idea way to use it based on my experience.

I ran one of these on my open track Mustang but it cracked at the track and I had to take a spare hose from a fellow tracker and replace my upper hose. What I may do later is buy a new cheap radiator hose and put a GANO filter on it and then run it long enough to catch any crud in a period after flushing the system after putting a new or cleaned out radiator in.

For long term reliability, I would install the regular Mopar upper hose. The last thing I need is getting stranded on a highway with a busted GANO filter.

I did look at the GANO website and they offer strong non-plastic versions but naturally, you will need to disconnect your radiator hose to see what the crud condition is.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.

Challenger near the haunted house

Back in the 1970’s where the current Google headquarters is in Mountain View, California, was all farm land. There were many flower nurseries, ranches and dairy farms. My father rented part of a quanset hut for storage of his electric cars and roofing materials from a dairy farmer named Mr. Holthouse. We used to make frequent trips from home in Palo Alto to the Holthouse farm which was only about 10-15 minutes away, taking those memorable drives down the old farmland roads.

One of those roads to the farm was Stierlin Road (which is now Shoreline) and the west side of the road was lined with farm properties and on the east side a largely desolate, unkept, open farm land with an old Victorian house sitting in the middle of nowhere (an area close to the  now SGI site). The old white 3 story house we all thought was haunted and it looked menacing as it appeared in a dilapidated state sitting out there all alone along with a few trees.*

It was on that road that my father first let me drive his Datsun mini pickup.  This was a couple years before I got my license, I think when I was only 14. My dad used to let me shift all the time from the passenger side, but this was the first time I ever drove a full sized car. I drove it down that old country road perfectly, shifting gears and then pulling off to let my dad take over. I impressed my dad with how well I drove a stick shift for the first time – I attribute that to countless rehearsals in my mind in anticipation for that moment.

This worked out great for my dad, not long after this, he used to let me drive all over the place for work, before I had my license (don’t tell anyone, okay?).

It was along that old Stierlin Road, just about across the road from the old haunted house, that I noticed a “tree find.”

CCS_green

There was a sublime 1970 Challenger, with a tow hitch, which was neglected under a tree in front of a farmer’s yard. I saw that car every time taking Stierlin to and from our shop.  I thought for sure this neglected car might be something I could afford without help. I mean, who would leave his Challenger, for what seemed like forever, rotting under a tree? Maybe the guy would ask for $500 or something.

One day my dad and I drove our little four speed mini-pickup over there to pay the unknown owner a visit. Upon closer inspection, the car was an R/T, with a 383 Magnum and a four-speed. My heart started thumping again with the prospects of getting this one for cheap. We knocked on the door and the owner, a young man, maybe in his mid twenties, came out and explained that he was interested in selling the car. To get my adrenaline flowing, he started talking about how fast the car was and how “it just wants to go faster all the time.” (it didn’t make any sense but I was willing to believe anything and it sounded good). I still had a paranoia about powerful four speeds, but I figured it would be something I could get over for the right price.

The guy tried to start the 383, but the battery was dead. Without a thought, my dad asked me to move our truck closer so they could hook up jumper cables, which I did without question. But then the most unexpected thing happened as I tried to nudge the truck closer to the Challenger’s battery… I pressed the clutch in and suddenly panic overcame me. The truck started rolling on its own!

My foot neglected the brake pedal. (Oh *%$#!) To this day, I remember the owner’s expression, a look of complete unadulterated shock as he sat at the Challenger’s driver’s seat watching helplessly as I glided the truck right smack into his fender!

Thankfully, I don’t remember my dad yelling or getting really insane (being a paratrooper in the War, it seemed like things had to get a lot worse before he blew his top).

The guy still asked if we wanted to buy his R/T, for $1850. But it was too much. Maybe, I was just too embarrassed to deal. My Dad helped pay 150 dollars for him to get his dent repaired. The guy said he was going to get the car painted anyways, which he did, painting it black before selling the R/T for about $2400.

Too good to be true. Maybe it was the haunted house.

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* The old “haunted house” became a historical site and has since been relocated and renovated. It stands at Shoreline Park, Mountain View, about a mile away from its original location.

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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014 ChallenYee.com. TheDodgeKid.com  All Rights Reserved.