1972 Dodge Challenger
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1972 Dodge Challenger
It all started when my mom Helen would take us kids to the local auctions and
buy old lawnmower engines to fix up. Eventually I would end up spending most of
my Sunday afternoons playing with anything with an engine in it. Later in 1975
when I became a freshman in high school, I would watch all of the older guys
cruise around school in their cars before class. I immediately realized that I
liked the look and sound of the Mopar cars over the others. I found myself
talking about cars with anyone who was interested. When I turned 16, I started
planting the seed into my parent’s heads about wanting to buy a car. After
convincing them and saving up enough money, I started looking for a 1969
Charger. Unfortunately, every one I saw at that time needed a lot of work. At
that point, I started considering other Mopar models. One night after school, my
dad and I drove 40 plus miles to look at a brown 72’ Doge Challenger. It had a
318, standard gauges and Keystone Classic wheels. We took it for a test drive.
It felt OK, but when I hit the brakes it swerved sharply to the left into on
coming traffic. We then drove it back to the dealership and decided to keep
looking. I kept scowering the local paper and came across an ad for another
Challenger. Once again my dad and I went to take a look at it. The car was
painted a non-stock 2-tone blue over the original yellow. It had the bigger 340
motor, ralleye gauges, and loud dual exhaust. Once I drove it, I immediately
fell in Love with the car. The seller wanted $2000 for it, so my dad suggested
that we sleep on it and talk about it in the morning. Well, the next day came
and all I could think about was that Challenger. Later my dad and I met the
seller at one of the local grocery stores where he worked and started
negotiating the price. He was real firm, but knocked $50 off of the price. SOLD!
Incidentally, this is one of the cars I used to watch drive around school before
Over the next year and a half, I installed an NOS trunk lid, rear chrome, Crager wheels, Super Sport tires, Cyclone headers, stock exhaust, new carpet, some other misc. parts and a new 2-tone blue paint job. After graduation I enlisted in the Air Force Band and was stationed on Omaha Nebraska. Initially, I took the car with me, but then drove it back before the winter and put it into storage. Later, I found out that my youngest brother Bob would go in the garage and sit inside the car and try it on for size. At that time, he couldn’t see over the dash. The car stayed in storage until 1999. During that time my brother Bob was turning into a bigger Mopar nut than me. In 1992, he bought a basket case 1968 Charger and finished the RT restoration in late 1995. I was amazed at what he did to the car, so I started getting excited to get my car out again, but it had developed bubbles and holes around the rear quarters. I wanted that fixed before I drove it, so it continued to sit in storage. After a lot of conversations with my brother, in the summer of 1999 I saved up some money and gave Bob and his buddy Kyle Larson the “go ahead” to pull the motor, tranny, and start stripping the car down and get it over to John’s Body Shop. For the most part, all I wanted was good bodywork and paint and basically put the car back together. The body parts were stripped to the bare metal. All removable sheet metal parts were taken to Precision Paint Removers Inc. in Long Lake Minnesota. The parts were submerged in a tank and received an electro-chemical process using “reverse electrolysis, which is a rust removal procedure. Once this was done, the body parts were reassembled to the chassis. All body gaps, hood alignment, and etc. were documented and then disassembled again. The sheet metal was then epoxy coated and light bodywork for straightening. The parts were then reassembled to the car and multiple coats of filler primer were applied for block sanding until the body was perfectly straight. The body then received the sealer, base coat, and multiple coats of clear for wet sanding and buffing. The paint used was Sikkens base coat clear coat system. Well, because the body and paintwork were so great, one thing lead to another. My brother Bob scrutinized every part before it went back on the car. We either bought new or used parts or had the old ones reconditioned. While the bodywork was being done, we had both front and rear bumpers rechromed by North Star Plating in Brainerd Minnesota. Bob then proceeded to rebuild the front, rear suspensions, and rear end using new parts. When he was finished with that, he had the car trailered up to Minneapolis where I live. Together, we installed the interior, dropped the motor and tranny in, installed all of the electrical wiring, bumpers, TTI exhaust, brake system, custom Stockton wheels, etc. We basically finished the rest of the car. I also ended up learning how to rebuild the Carter 750 Thermo Quad with a lot of help from Ted Thompson from Tomco Carburetors. The car was completely gone over bolt by bolt. I had custom painter Steve Cherewan bead blast and paint the air cleaner. He also repaired and painted the front grill assembly. Both look stunning! His brother and detailer Jim Cherewan did the final touches. He did some additional wet sanding, cleaned, and buffed the car within an inch of its life. Both Jim and Steve helped steer me in the right direction throughout the whole project, but if it wasn’t for my brother Bob, the restoration would have never happened. Thanks Bob!
He is now working on a 1968 Barracuda, tubbed with a 528 Hemi. Hopefully, it will be done in a couple of years.
* One additional note:
First time out the car won the 1st place trophy in the E body Dodge class at the Midwest Mopars In The Park Show at Shakopee Raceway in Minnesota of June 2002.
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