On paper, this 1970 Challenger starts to sound like the proverbial muscle car. R/T package? Check. Wild color? Code EV2 Hemi Orange paint. Engine? 440 Six Pack. Sure Grip differential? Check. Shaker hood? Check.
Those features would certainly be at the top for anyone buying one of Ma MoPar’s finest in-your-face boulevard bruisers during the peak of the performance era. However, a deeper look at the car’s broadcast sheet tells the rest of the story: Stripes? Deleted. Rallye wheels and raised white letter tires? Nope — deluxe wheel covers and whitewalls. Console and floor shifter? How about a column-shifted automatic instead?
Seeing as this Challenger R/T was built with whitewalls and deluxe wheel covers and without even the standard R/T stripes, one might guess this car was built to be a sleeper. But there’s nothing stealthy about High Impact Hemi Orange paint, and the Shaker hood scoop with its “440 Six Pack” call-outs advertise that this Challenger R/T is anything but asleep. So what gives?
The answer may come from the period in which this oddly equipped Challenger R/T was built. In July 1970, the assembly lines at Chrysler Corp. were winding down production of the 1970 models and transitioning to the 1971 models. Just prior to the changeover at Dodge’s Hamtramck, Mich., plant, this sedate-looking 440 Six Pack Challenger R/T was birthed. It was the very last 440 Six Pack Challenger R/T to be built for the 1970 model year.
Back in the day, automobile manufactures built what they called “sales bank cars” using leftover components as a model year was concluding. The factory would ship these oddballs to unsuspecting dealers and charge them with the task of selling the unusually equipped vehicles. It was common to see these oddballs sitting on dealer lots for extended periods of time. Usually, their selling price would drop and, in most cases, the eventual buyer would get an exceptional deal for a one-year-old automobile.
A salesperson at the Dodge dealership in downtown Philadelphia, Pa., vividly recalled when this ’70 Challenger R/T arrived at the dealership. He remembers his fellow employees questioning why Chrysler built and shipped the dealership such a stripped-down Challenger R/T, yet optioned it with the 440 Six Pack engine plus the Shaker hood. They never got an answer.
One might expect a young enthusiast to have taken advantage of such a cheap muscle car as this 1970 Challenger R/T’s price dropped on the dealer’s lot while the months of 1971 passed by. History also shows muscle cars were often modified while being driven into the ground. That was not to be the fate of this 1970 Challenger R/T 440 Six Pack.
In July 1971, nearly a year after this unusual Dodge arrived at the dealership, a salesperson was offered a sweet deal on the car. By this time, there were incentives to sell the 1971 models, which meant the price of the leftover 1970 Challenger was driven down even farther. The salesman agreed to take the Challenger R/T off the dealership’s hands before the new ’72 models arrived. Not long after, he put it up for sale in the local newspaper’s “automobiles for sale” section.
In October 1971, a Merchant Marine came across the advertisement, called the seller, showed up at his residence, took an immediate interest in the “dare to be different” MoPar and agreed to buy it. He was looking to own a muscle car that would be available for fun during his port-side leaves. It was primarily driven in nice weather on weekends, as reflected by the car’s incredible survivor condition today.
In 2007, the Manny Collection discovered the uniquely equipped and unassuming ’70 Challenger R/T 440 Six Pack in the car corral of the Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, with a “for sale” sign on the windshield. After having the car thoroughly researched and verified by a well-respected MoPar expert, the ’70 Challenger R/T 440 Six Pack was added to the Ontario-based Manny Collection’s assemblage of rare, unrestored muscle cars.
Challenging Mustang and Camaro
With the all-new 1970 Challenger and restyled Plymouth Barracuda, Chrysler Corp. had perfected the established pony car formula. Like their competitors, a wide array of engine choices were offered, from MoPar’s meek Slant Six to its teeth-rattling 426 Hemi; between these engines were the 318, 340, 383 and 440 V-8 engines. Often, a Challenger with a performance engine was additionally optioned in a dizzying array of graphics packages and go-fast goodies. With a rumbling V-8, a High-Impact paint color and a stripe kit, it was impossible to miss a well-optioned Challenger R/T.
The new Dodge Challenger used the same unibody platform as Plymouth’s redesigned Barracuda, but the Challenger wheelbase was 2 inches longer (a fact appreciated by its rear-seat passengers). Both utilized the long hood/short deck styling that had become a hallmark of pony cars. Buyers of a Challenger or Barracuda were able to select from only coupe or convertible body styles. Most versions of performance Challengers were dressed in Dodge’s now-familiar “R/T” label (the 340 Six Pack Challenger T/A was Dodge’s other hot pony car, but sold in fewer numbers). Standard R/T power for the 1970 Challenger came from the 335-bhp 383. Optional for R/T was one of two 440s — the four-barrel Magnum with 375 bhp or the tri-carb Six Pack with 390 hp — or the 426-cid Hemi V-8 with 425 hp. It cost $1,228 more to hop into the Hemi, which also required additional heavy-duty equipment. Meanwhile, the 440 Six Pack package added $249.55 to the sticker price, and even adding $227.05 for the heavy-duty 727 TorqueFlite, the Six Pack was a more budget-friendly alternative. On top of that, Six Pack owners saw comparable performance from the Challenger R/T.
For R/T owners who liked to row through the gears themselves, a four-speed was optional and came with the bonus of a Pistol Grip Hurst shifter. Gear ratios in the Dana 60 rear axle ranged from 3.23:1 to 4.10:1 with the limited-slip Sure Grip axle available at extra cost. All Challenger R/Ts received a beefier suspension, a Rallye instrument cluster (with tachometer, oil pressure gauge and 150-mph speedometer), intermittent wipers, heavy-duty brakes and a buyer’s choice of three stripe kits (or the deletion of striping altogether).
The standard Challenger R/T hood featured two open hood scoops with air directed indiscriminately throughout the engine compartment. For $97 extra, Challenger R/T owners could opt for the air cleaner-mounted Shaker setup that protruded through a hole in the hood and directed air right into the air cleaner; a bonus effect of the Shaker hood was that it allowed owners to watch a running MoPar V-8 rock and rumble.
Enjoying a 440 Six Pack R/T
The owner of the Manny Collection chooses to remain anonymous, which is understandable given the desirability of MoPar pony cars with muscle. However, we asked him whether he has spent much time behind the wheel of the car.
“Yes, I have driven it on occasion to the gas station and local Dairy Queen,” he said. “It’s one of the best-running muscle cars from our collection. The carburetors are known to have issues. We’ve owned it for nearly 15 years with no issues. This car was well maintained and taken care of by the prior owners. When I pull up to a traffic light, people recognize the Challenger emblem on the fender and give me a ‘thumbs up’ when they see the Shaker hood scoop and realize it’s a 440 Six Pack.”
Chrysler produced 13,796 Dodge Challenger R/T hardtop coupes during the 1970 model year. It’s possible this is the only one in this color and with this odd combination of factory equipment. When the employees at the Hamtramck plant built this anomaly in July 1970, little did they know how unique and appreciated it would be 50 years later. There is an old saying in the muscle car community: “Less is more.”
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