If you watched yesterday's episode of Top Gear — specifically, the American muscle challenge you may have noticed a rather cherry vintage R/T Challenger in the background. The car belongs to Mark, an Englishman with a penchant for vintage Mopar muscle and a willingness to share the car with others. In addition to the most recent episode of Top Gear, Mark's Challenger was also featured in Motor Trend alongside the new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8. How, exactly, did a vintage Challenger end up in England?
Mark has always been a fan of Dodge muscle and, until recently, owned a 1973 Plymouth 340 Cuda. After selling that car to an enthusiast in Germany, Mark did what any reasonable person would do and sped off to Vegas with the hopes of buying a four-speed big block. Unable to find the right one, the Londoner with a love of loud pipes headed home. Alas, not a week later this very special Dodge Challenger 440 RT four-speed showed up on eBay UK and Mark quickly took possession of it. The car itself has a much longer history, having been purchased and restored as a family project by the Stahlhebers of St. Peters Missouri. You can read the full story of the Challenger build here. The Stahlhebers sold the car at auction to a different UK collector who then turned around and listed the car on eBay. And the car itself?
Although it is not a true numbers matching car- It does decode to be an original 440 RT four-speed car. A full rotisserie restoration had been completed a couple of years before and virtually everything had been replaced- with NOS or repro parts etc. The engine is a 1970 440 with a few extra performance parts and dress up pieces- and runs just great!- bodywork is rust free and looks stunning in F4 Rallye Red- This is actually a 1969 Chrsyler colour and is offset with the period RT side stripes. The four speed gearbox is shifted with the Hurst pistol grip shifter - another cool option in my opinion. Since owning her I have driven it as much as the crappy English weather will allow!
When not driving her or racking up trophies, Mark hasn't been shy about parading the car out for the press. Perhaps we should make an effort to go to the London Motor Show this year for the chance to drive Mark's beautiful example of Mopar muscle. (Thanks to Mark for the info and photos)