Tag Archives: TA

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 !


One Step Back, Two Steps Forwards – MG TA

The MG TA Midget replaced the MG PB Midget in 1936 with many, of it’s parent company, Morris components. The TA and following T series variants opened up the appeal of sports cars in general to a huge new market that had remained hitherto untapped thanks to the reputation sports cars had for being temperamental if not plain difficult to drive.

MG TA, Goodwood Revival

Built with a 7″ longer and 3″ wider chassis the TA’s motor was technically a retrograde step from it’s PB predecessor which had an over head cam motor. The Morris 10 based TA motor ‘only’ featured pushrod operated over head valves, but with 2 carburetors this still produced 50 hp with the benefit that the valve clearances were much easier to maintain.

If the motor was a technological retrograde step both the synchromesh gearbox, making changing gear much easier and the hydraulic brakes, which needed much less maintenance, were both technological steps forwards that made the TA a much easier car to drive and maintain, than it’s predecessor and added to the durability of the whole TA package.

Top speed of the TA was around 80 mph with a rest to 60 mph acceleration time of just over 23 seconds. 3,000 TA Midgets were manufactured between 1936 and 1939.

Thanks for joining me on this “One Step Back, Two Steps Forwards” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at an unusual tribute car. Don’t forget to come back now !