Tag Archives: Challenger

A53 For Civilians – Dodge Challenger T/A

Back at the end of the 1960’s and early 1970’s in order to compete in the SCCA sanctioned Trans Am series of road races potential entrants had to show that they had manufactured, or in the case of the Challeger T/A Dodge had to show they intended to manufacture 2,400 similar units for ‘civilian’ use.

Dodge Challenger T/A, Goodwood Festival of Speed

In May 1969 a Chrysler product planner conceived the Dodge Challenger T/A as an option pack that could be fitted in the build of new cars or retro fitted by dealers to existing 1970 Challengers which had a new second generation body designed by Carl Cameron.

Dodge Challenger T/A, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The T/A spec, also known internally at Dodge as the A53, was first seen in February 1970 by which time Pontiac has launched the “Trans Am” forcing Dodge to opt for the T/A abbreviation. The T/A spec featured a pair of front spoilers which were optional unlike the rear fibreglass spoiler on the boot / trunk lid.

Dodge Challenger T/A, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The, matt black only, T/A bonnet / hood was also made from fibre glass and was fitted with lighter hinge springs and pins at the front to keep it shut at speed. The large airscoop only directed air into the engine bay unlike the shaker hood on the 395hp six pack 440 Magnum which was attached to the 3 twin barrel carburetors and fed air directly into the throttle bodies.

04 Dodge Challenger T/A_8008sc

Trans Am regulations mandated a maximum engine size of 5 litres / 305 cui and Dodge had Power Boat legend and Drag race engine Keith Black prepare small block 303 cui motors for the Classic Wax sponsored Challenger race cars, but the SCCA appear to have been happy to see the T/A spec civilian cars run with small block 340 cui / 5,571cc motors fitted with 3 Holley twin barrel carburetors which combined to produce between 290 and 320 hp depending on whom one was talking to and to what purpose.

Dodge Challenger T/A, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Challenger T/A had an unusual stance thanks to the 15 inch front wheels being fitted with F60 size tyres at the front and wider taller G60 tyres at the rear. This was the first US car for civilian use to be fitted with different size tyres front and rear and is said by some to have contributed to the cars tendency to understeer / push.

Dodge Challenger T/A, Goodwood Festival of Speed

A53 cars ran a normal exhaust to the silencer muffler but it then curved round to exit through “low restriction” megaphones ahead of the rear wheels instead of running to the rear as per all other 1970 Challengers.

Dodge Challenger T/A, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Civilian A53’s were also the only Challengers to have an aerial mounted on the rear passenger side, this was so as to minimise radio interference from the motor which was now running only beneath a fiber glass hood.

Dodge Challenger T/A, Goodwood Festival of Speed

With an other wise stock interior, one T/A also had a sunroof a T/A could cover a 1/4 mile in 14 secs having reached 60 mph in six seconds slower than the big block 440 Magnum and Hemi Challengers but, due to their lighter weight, a little more agile in the corners thanks to a fast ratio steering rack with optional power assistance designed for ‘sports car driving’, improved suspension and all wheel disc brakes, though this was all compromised by the smaller F60 front tyres.

The Challenger T/A was available only in 1970 because Dodge decided to withdraw from Trans Am after Sam Posey finished 4th in the Trans Am championship without scoring any wins.

Some sources say in all from late March 1970 to Mid April 1970 just 1,500 Challenger T/A’s were completed 989 with automatic transmission and the remainder with 4 speed manual while others say 2,399 units were built without splitting the auto and manual transmission numbers. If you know which is correct don’t be afraid to chip in below.

Thanks for joining me on this “A53 For Civilians” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Coffee Croissant & Cars #06/14 – Avenue Drivers Club

Today’s blog comes from last month’s Avenue Drivers Club meeting at Queen Square where I marveled not only at the range of vehicles but the quality of the sunlight that enabled be to capture a few details I might ordinarily miss.

Bentley Arnage T, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Above a headlight cluster from a 2005 Bentley Arnage T automatic.

Sunbeam 3 litre TC Six, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

When Sunbeam wanted to take on the world of advanced motor engineering they went straight to the top and hired two FIAT employees; Vincenzo Bertarione and Walter Becchia who designed the first Sunbeam twim cam engines in 1923 starting with a 2 litre 122 cui straight six, which won the 1923 French Grand Prix and progressing to a 3 litre / 183 cui straight six as the 1927 example seen above, which after surviving an accident finished second in the 1925 Le Mans 24 hours.

Riley RMD, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

From 1949 to 1951 just 502 Riley RMD drophead coupé were built. Despite it’s regal interior opulence as seen in the 1950 example above, the would be the last convertible to carry the Riley name.

Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 20 Camper Special, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

For those into seriously long road trips Chevrolet built a Camper Special on the C/K 20 pickup trucks, this one dates from 1973, the idea is to take the tailgate off and slide a camper pod onto the load platform. Sounds easy but from experience best not done in a garage with a low ceiling.

Dodge Challenger, Avenue Driver Club, Queen Square, Bristol

The waste line on this ’71 Dodge Challenger is in my humble opinion a work of pure art, like taking a smidgen of Devon cream from the pot on the end of your little finger it’s perfect.

Toyota Supra Twin Turbo, Avenue Drivers Club, Queen Square, Bristol

Back in the day when I was selling cars a turbo was something to aspire to and twin turbo’s were something strictly for the track, just as I left the trade Toyota introduced the 320 hp sequential twin turbo Supra Mark IV in 1993, a car that would remain in production until 2002. The tail lights seen here are on a 1994 model.

If you at a loose end in the Bristol area tomorrow morning you could do worse than pop down to Queen Square for Coffee Croissant and Cars.

Thanks for joining me on this “Coffee Croissant & Cars #06/14″ edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you join me again tomorrow when I’ll be featuring a gathering that included a blind folded guy driving a monster truck ! Don’t forget to come back now !


Perfect Car For A Wedding #7 – Dodge Challenger SRT/8

It’s been a while since I have run a “Perfect Car For A Wedding” feature and of those I have run today’s third generation 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT/8 is easily my favorite.

While Ford has always been the trend setter in the pony car market segment, Dodge, who were third in first time round with the 1970 Challenger, beat Chevrolet to 2nd place by a full year at the end of the Naughties after the pony car market segmented was started the second time round by Ford in 2005.

Dodge Challenger SRT 8, Shakespeare County Raceway

The Dodge Challenger SRT/8 was launched at the Chicago and Philadelphia International Auto Show’s simultaneously in February 2008. Unusually all 6400 first production run STR8s were pre sold.

All US market 2008 Challengers like the one seen here were SRT/8 models fitted with 425 hp 6.1 litre / 370 cui HEMI V8s and a five speed AutoStick automatic transmission.

Dodge Challenger SRT 8, Shakespeare County Raceway

The SRT/8 is built on an shortened Chrysler LX platform known as the LC, and shares front and rear suspension components with the Mercedes Benz W220 S Class and W120 E Class respectively.

In 2008 Chrysler Canada built a separate run of between 670 and 719 Challenger 500’s for the Canadian market only.

The Challenger is seen here at the entrance of Shakespeare County Raceway after the owner had used it at her friends wedding earlier in the afternoon. Wishing everybody about to get married today all the best and many happy years together.

Thanks for joining me on this “Perfect Car For A Wedding #7 ” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t for get to come back now !


Tomorrow Or The End Of Time – Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum

The first piece of music to make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end was by James Marshall Hendrix, some time in 1967 I was home alone during the day time so it was probably during the Easter holidays, I was messing about with some extremely uncomfortable ex military bakerlite head phones when the announcer on the radio told us that coming next would be Jimi Hendrix latest hit “Purple Haze”. I unplugged and took off the headphones and turned up the volume control of the radiogram a little in anticipation of something interesting happening.

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

By the time the opening riff blurted out I reached out and did something I had never done before, I maxed out the volume ! By the end of the song I was certainly tuned in and turned on to the Jimi Hendrix Experience even though I had no idea what it was, except it felt really good and I had a new found love for the colour purple and a curiosity for the line “Is this tomorrow or just the end of time ?”

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

This Tomorrow Or The End Of Time theme is revisited in the 1971 flash back road movie “Vanishing Point” which begins with an all American anti hero Kowolski driving a white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum pulling back from a 90 mph impact with a couple of Catepillar bulldozers, that serve as a makeshift police roadblock and vanishing into thin air, before retelling the story of how Kowolski got to the point of staring tomorrow or the end of time in the face.

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

While reading up on the history of the Challenger I was interested to learn that the very first Challenger was actually a limited edition two door body called the Dodge Silver Challenger that was only available in in silver and came fully loaded with premium white wall tyres, full wheel covers, electric windscreen wipers, luxury fabric interior and deep pile carpets through out.

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

For 1970 Carl Cameron came up with the exterior design for the second generation Challenger, like the Plum Crazy FC-7 1970 example seen here at Shakespeare County Raceway earlier this year. Chrysler had determined that the similar but shorter Plymouth Barracuda should belatedly compete with the Mustang and Camaro and the Dodge Challenger should compete with the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird in the pony car market.

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

Of the engine options available to Challenger customers there were two 440 cui / 7.2 litre Magnum options one 375 hp with a single four barrel carburetor and one 395 hp with three x two barrel carburetors known as the six pack. The car seen here appears to be the 375 hp option as distinguished by the air scoop which on the more powerful six pack models sits on top of the carburetor intakes in the center of the bonnet hood.

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

Because of low sales volumes of the larger engine Challengers they have become extremely collectable, especially if the engine and chassis numbers match the original factory records. Within the pony car segment this late arrival did well to sell 76,935 copies in 1970 after which sales plummeted to less than 30,000 a year until the model was discontinued in 1974.

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

Attractive though the Mustangs and Camaros are for my money the Challenger is the most desirable of all the muscle pony cars, there is something about it’s lines that are simply a little less fussy, a little smoother and more refined that look a bit further forward than all the others seen on pony cars in my humble opinion.

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

The Challenger R/T with the 440 Magnum as seen here and in the original 1971 version of Vanishing point was capable of covering a quarter mile in 13.8 seconds by which time it would be touching 102 mph, the 440 Magnum was only listed for the 1970 model year though it was available as a special order in 1971.

Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum, Yanks and Gary’s 34th Picnic, Shakespeare County Raceway

When Kowolski approached the point of no return at the end of Vanishing Point he had a choice to turn back and see what the tomorrow would bring or to keep going further and faster into oblivion, giving up the struggle of life, forgetting not to let a few bad moments spoil a bunch of good ones and disappear into the end of time. I guess if you don’t know what happened next you’ll just have to see the film for your self to find out.

Thanks for joining me on this “Tomorrow Or The End Of Time” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you’ll join me for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now.


Classic Acid – Dodge Challenger

I was reminded of today’s photograph by Geoffrey Horton at the 2008 Danville Concours d’Elegance yesterday by my response to a blog about movies beginning with the letter V by Chief 187. One of my all time favorite movies is “Vanishing Point” (1971) which features a white Dodge Challenger in the ‘maximum trip at maximum speed’.

Dodge Challenger

I believe the #77 Dodge ‘Classic Wax’ Challenger seen here is owned by Ken Epsman was originally prepared by Dan Gurney’s All American Racers for the 1970 Trans Am championship and driven by Sam Posey.

Back then teams would acid dip their cars to make them lighter and allegedly after this car had passed tech inspection at the first race of the season at Laguna Seca the team offered the Chief Technical Inspector a beer, who then relaxed, resting his elbow on the roof of this car which dimpled in as a result of having spent a little too much time in the acid bath.

The Technical Inspector promptly informed the team that they could no longer run until the roof had been replaced. Within an hour the roof of a brand new Challenger in a Monterey Dodge Dealers show room was being torched off before replacing the offending dimpled roof.

Sam drove the 3200 lb 460 hp car to 6th place in the race and claimed 4th place in the championship standings at the end of the season.

My thanks to Chief 187, Geoffrey Horton and to the Historic Trans Am website.

Thanks for joining me on today’s ‘Acid Bath’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Follow that Eldorado – Shakespeare County Raceway

Chris Hartnell, Shakespeare County Raceway

A couple of months ago, on my way to Race Retro, I spent several hours in the back of mini bus with ‘Crazy’ Chris Hartnell seen here at the wheel of ‘Backdraft’ a sling shot dragster, in a very short time his enthusiasm for drag racing infected me and on Sunday I finally got a chance to to go to my very first Drag meet.

Cadillac Eldorado, Shakespeare County Raceway

The meeting was held at Shakespeare County Raceway, in deepest Warwickshire, so deep I managed to get so completely lost trying to find the venue, no Sat Nav in this weekends borrowed wheels, that the only way I found it was by following a Cadillac Eldorado I fortuitously came across while trying to work out where I was at a T junction in the middle of nowhere that I could not find on my Google Map.

Chevrolet Advanced Design, Shakespeare County Raceway

The sound of V8’s being tortured for up to 10 secs from the car park was unlike anything I have ever heard before, made 43 cars flying round Talledega at 190 mph sound quite tuneful by comparison.

Dodge Challenger R/T, Shakespeare County Raceway

Bevis the owner of a sumptuous red 450 hp small block road going Chevy Impala, complete with one piece California rear bumper, the subject of a future blog told me that the really big Drag meeting was actually at Santa Pod near Northampton in September, but I was happy enough easing my way into the scene on Sunday.

Morris Minor, Shakespeare County Raceway

Against my expectations there were a few UK bodied vehicles including this Morris Minor, a Rover 400 Funny Car, a standard looking TVR Tuscan, a Ford Anglia and a couple of Mark 2 Ford Cortinas, including an Estate / Stationwagon !

Shakespeare County Raceway

I had hoped to get a photo of Crazy Chris popping a wheely, unfortunately I was a bit slow on the camera shutter, still next time I’ll know what to expect. If you have never been to a drag meeting I’d certainly recommend a visit, the atmosphere is extremely friendly and relaxed in the paddock and the action is short but intense on the track, I look forward to future blogs on some of the wild rides I saw on Sunday.

Thanks to ‘Crazy’ Chris Hartnell infecting me with his enthusiasm, I hope you have enjoyed today’s Drag edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t for get to come back now !