In this edition of Muscle Car of the Week, we delve into the captivating tale of a truly extraordinary vehicle, the 1970 Dodge Challenger. Shot at the renowned Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Chicago, this particular Challenger carries with it a rich history and a remarkable family legacy. Join us as we explore the origins of this classic car and the sentimental journey it has embarked upon.

Unveiling a Family Heirloom: While strolling through the Muscle Car Corvette Nationals, car enthusiasts often encounter captivating vehicles that pique their interest. One such car is the 1970 Dodge Challenger, a true gem with a fascinating story. The current owner, Gregory, proudly reveals that this beauty is not just a car but also a cherished family heirloom. The tale behind its acquisition unfolds as Gregory recounts his father’s desire to surpass his brother’s iconic 1968 Charger, boasting a formidable 440 Magnum engine. With the intention to one-up his sibling, Gregory’s father embarked on a mission to find the perfect Challenger. He placed a special order for a one-of-a-kind vehicle in October 1969, received the bill in November, and finally welcomed the car into the family in December of the same year.

A Unique Beast: This 1970 Dodge Challenger is no ordinary muscle car. It proudly features a robust 426 Hemi engine and a pistol grip for speed, making it an exhilarating ride. Additionally, the vehicle is equipped with the coveted Hertz ESC package and the highly sought-after R/T SE trim level. Every detail was meticulously chosen, making it an embodiment of automotive perfection. Adding to its uniqueness is the distinct top treatment, a tasteful Satin Black vinyl roof that was all the rage in its heyday.

The Memorable Journey: Gregory’s father, a former military man and Detroit police officer, served in the 82nd Airborne and the Special Forces during his time in Vietnam. After returning from his service, he became a police officer, working to secure his dream car. Determined to preserve his prized possession, he drove it regularly but also took great care of it. To ensure its longevity, he even disengaged one of the latches on the hood to discourage unwanted attention. However, around 1978, the car faced some technical difficulties, leading Gregory’s father to enlist the help of a friend, Dean Heron. After a temporary fix, the car was parked and remained in storage for an astonishing 37 years.

A Resurrected Legacy: Unfortunately, Gregory’s father passed away in recent years, inspiring Gregory to unearth the dormant Challenger and discover the profound connection his father had with this magnificent machine. With the invaluable assistance of Dean, Darrell, and Katy from Coker’s Automotive, the car was painstakingly restored to its former glory. The moment Gregory slid behind the wheel and took it for a spin, he experienced a deep understanding of his father’s passion for the car. The Challenger had won his father’s heart, and now, Gregory grasped why. His father’s love for this automobile was palpable, even in his final days.

Preserving the Family Heritage: Gregory’s father’s ardent wish was for the Challenger to remain in the family for generations to come. It is a testament to his wisdom and discerning taste that countless muscle car enthusiasts at the Muscle Car Corvette Nationals express a burning desire to own a vehicle just like this one. Its timeless appeal, including the iconic tail stripe, serves as a testament to his foresight and innate understanding of what makes a car truly remarkable.

Milestones and Memories: Throughout its existence, the 1970 Dodge Challenger Black Ghost RT/SE 426 Hemi has accumulated a modest mileage of 45,617 miles. While this may seem relatively low, the car’s exposure to the harsh weather conditions of Detroit has left its mark. The car proudly bears the scars of a life well-lived, with dings, scratches, and a touch of rust. However, each imperfection tells a story, adding character and authenticity to this captivating vehicle. Interestingly, some of the dents on its side were caused by a bicycle colliding with the car—a testament to the adventurous spirit of Gregory’s father.

Gregory reminisces about his childhood experiences with the Challenger. As a young passenger, he vividly remembers the thrilling challenge his father presented to him—placing a dollar bill on the dashboard and daring him to grab it while driving. The exhilaration mixed with a touch of fear made for unforgettable moments, etching cherished memories in Gregory’s mind.

The Challenger served multiple roles in Gregory’s father’s life. Beyond being a daily driver and a weekend cruiser, it also found its way to the racetrack. Under the cover of night, Gregory’s father indulged in the adrenaline-pumping activity of street racing, a passion he relished. While this may seem contradictory to his role as a traffic enforcement officer, it demonstrates the multifaceted nature of his love affair with the car. Countless stories, shared by family members and friends, further attest to the Challenger’s impact on their lives. Gregory’s cousin, Ramona, revealed that his father had a penchant for racing down the alleyways of Detroit—a daring act that exemplified his adventurous spirit.

Coming full circle, the presence of the Challenger at the Muscle Car Corvette Nationals has provided validation for those who heard of its existence but never witnessed it in person. Among the attendees were individuals who remembered the rumors surrounding this enigmatic vehicle—a black car with a gator grain vinyl roof, a true rarity in its time. Its appearance at the event signifies the restoration of a long-standing myth and renews the connection between the car and its passionate admirers.

Interestingly, despite the car’s inclusion in the Shaker Hood Invitational at the Muscle Car Corvette Nationals, it lacks the signature shaker hood that was originally ordered. Gregory reveals that his father had indeed requested the shaker hood, but it was missing when he received the car. Frustrated, he pursued legal action against the manufacturing company and eventually acquired a shaker hood. It stands as a testament to his determination and unwillingness to compromise on his dream car.

Gregory himself is an avid enthusiast of cars and has embarked on documenting his automotive experiences through his TV channel, Open Cars on TV. As for the future of the Challenger, Gregory’s primary focus is on maintaining its current condition. The goal is to preserve the authenticity and sentimental value it holds for the family. While minor upkeep may be necessary, there are no plans for extensive modifications. The intention is to savor every moment spent with the car and to pass it down to Gregory’s 10-year-old son, ensuring that the legacy of this remarkable vehicle continues for generations to come.

In conclusion, the 1970 Dodge Challenger Black Ghost RT/SE 426 Hemi is more than just a car—it is a symbol of a cherished family history. From its unique specifications to the memories it carries, this Challenger has earned its rightful place in the automotive world. It serves as a testament to the passion, perseverance, and indomitable spirit of Gregory’s father. As the Challenger roars down the streets, it not only captivates the eyes but also touches the hearts of all who encounter it.