We've had some extremely nice 1970 Dodge Challenger T/As come through the showroom recently, but this one has to top them all. A numbers matching engine with a 4-speed manual, and a recent rotisserie restoration to concours specifications—does it get any better? Oh, wait, maybe it does—it's also a real FJ5 Sub-Lime Green car with almost enough options to be a 2-tag car, just in case the pedigree wasn't attention-getting enough.
By now, you know all about Chrysler building the T/A (and its cousin, the 'Cuda AAR) for homologation purposes for the Sports Car Club of America's Trans American Sedan Championship (hence the T/A name). You know that they're a 1-year only model, and that thanks to the 340 topped by a Six Pack induction system, they are some of the best-performing Mopar small blocks ever built. They're rare, too, with only 989 4-speed T/As being built in 1970, so good luck finding another one as nice as this. Looking over our previous sales of similar cars, it certainly appears that the market is catching on to what great cars these really are—they don't seem to stick around very long.
I mentioned two tags earlier—I don't know if all T/As had two tags (I suspect they did since the second tag is simply a special one that says TRANS AM), but the main tag is full of options—just one more would have pushed everything onto yet ANOTHER tag. Have a look:
2 Door Hardtop
J03: 340 cubic inch 290HP 3x2 BBL 8 CYL
Jefferson Avenue, MI, USA
307247: Sequence number
E55: 340 cubic inch 3x2 barrel V8 290hp
D21: 4-speed Manual Transmission
FJ5: Sublime / Lime Light Exterior Color
H6X9: Trim - High, Vinyl Bucket Seats, Black
000: Full Door Panels
414: Build Date: April 14
176878: Order number
FJ5: Sublime / Lime Light Top Color
A44: Rear Window Louver Package
A53: Trans Am Package
A62: Rallye Instrument Cluster Package
B51: Power Brakes
C16: Console w/Woodgrain Panel
C55: Bucket Seats
G36: OS Dual Racing Mirrors
J45: Hood Tie Down Pins
J54: Sport Hood
J68: Backlight Louvers
J82: Rear Spoiler - Duck Wing
M21: Roof drip rail moldings
N44: Side Exhaust
N94: Fiberglass Fresh Air Hood
N95: Emissions Control
R11: Radio Solid State AM (2 Watts)
V6H: Longitudinal Stripes, Trans Am Black
Y05: Build to USA Specs
26: 26in Radiator
EN1: End of Sales Codes
I like the way these cars look, even more than the AAR Cudas. The purposeful, briefcase-sized hood scoop, the side exhaust, the ducktail spoiler, it all makes this car look like it was built for a single purpose—which, I suppose, it was. At any rate, the body on this car is beautifully finished with straight quarter panels and perfect alignment throughout. Gaps are certainly better than new, which is important on a Sub-Lime car, because they show up so vividly against the paint. Challengers can be a, um, challenge to get right because of the crease that runs from nose to tail, and even expert body men have fits trying to get the fenders and doors to cooperate. The paint is 2-stage urethane, and with a clearcoat, it'll last forever with little more than an occasional wash and wax, which is more than we can say for the OEM paint from 1970. The car positively glows—look at the photos and you'll see that you just can't hide from the eerie green reflections the paint casts everywhere. Cool!
The fiberglass hood fits well, but might be just a shade too glossy, but who can say for certain? I wasn't around when these cars were new, so it's impossible to be sure. Correct decals have been applied, and the car certainly looks the part of a racer with the broad black stripe and big advertisements for the 340 Six Pack under the hood. Other details on this car include the rear window louvers and ductail spoiler, both of which are finished to match the satin black hood. This car has chrome bumpers front and rear, which have been refinished to show standards, and all the other brightwork has been buffed and shined. Emblems and lenses are new throughout, and the front grille is positively spectacular—you won't find a nicer one anywhere.
As I mentioned, the engine is the original, numbers-matching 340 that came with the car. The factory rated them at 290 horsepower, the same as the 340 4-barrel and the same as the Camaro Z/28 and Mustang Boss 302. However, most experts agree that this potent small block was cranking out 350 legitimate horsepower, making it more than a match in a straight line for its GM and Ford competition. Fully rebuilt during the restoration, all the noteworthy numbers and stampings were photographed as evidence of this car's pedigree, and it was reassembled to stock specifications. Nestled back in the engine bay, it was detailed to show standards. Notable details include the Hemi-style 2-groove alternator pulley (for high-RPM stability), a beefy clutch fan for the cooling system, and that giant air cleaner being fed fresh air from the hood scoop directly above it. Hoses and clamps are exact reproductions, a correct ballast resistor has been installed on the firewall, and a new yellow cap battery (smaller and lighter) lives in the tray. Decals and markings are correct throughout, and this one shows almost no signs of having been driven since it was completed. Heck, even the exhaust manifolds are virtually spotless and the paint doesn't seem to have seen any heat cycling.
Underneath, it's every bit as nice. A correct replacement 4-speed manual transmission lives behind the engine, and out back, the original 8.75-inch rear axle packs 3.55 gears for the perfect combination of street power and high-speed cruising ability. I know I've mentioned this before, but there's something about the detailing on a Sub-Lime car that makes everything pop. Look closely and you'll see correct paint daubs on the nuts and bolts, replicating the marks assembly line workers used to show they'd done their jobs. The exhaust system is satin black to keep it out of sight under the car, which was crucial to the overall look with the polished trumpets exiting just ahead of the rear wheels. Of course all the lines, hoses, cables and hardware are new, so this one runs and drives as good as it looks. The T/A (and AAR) was among the first production cars with staggered tire sizes: E60x15s up front, G60x15s in back, although this one currently wears BFGoodrich T/A radials mounted on beautifully restored Rallye wheels. While not 100% accurate, I think you'll appreciate the modern rubber when you put this potent pony on the road.
The cabin is standard Challenger R/T, but that's a compliment. Restored with the rest of the car, virtually everything you can see or touch is new. Seat covers, carpets, headliner, door panels, even the dash pad has been restored or replaced with exact reproductions. The gauges are freshly rebuilt, and the original Music Master AM radio still lives in the dash. A woodgrained console adds some upscale appeal, and the pistol grip shifter is so cool, I want one in my new car. New Challenger T/A logo floor mats have been installed, and the embroidery matches the paint. The trunk is finished as original, with a reproduction mat, space-saver spare tire, inflator can, and correct jack set.
Documentation includes restoration photos and original Dodge News Magazines from 1970 announcing the debut of the T/A model. Also present is a recent visual inspection report from Galen Govier, which confirms that this T/A is indeed a numbers matching piece.
Short of an uber-rare Hemi, I prefer small-block cars to big blocks any day of the week. When they were specifically built to handle a road course, now you've really got my attention. For a 1-year-only model, Chrysler went to great lengths to make the T/A unique (although there is evidence that they were working on a 1971 T/A when they pulled out of racing altogether). This particular T/A is just about as nice as they come. With its original engine, a beautiful restoration, and a ton of options, if you're looking for a T/A, this is the one to own. I also believe that you will start to see the values on these cars slowly creep up, just as they have with the Boss 302 over the past few years. With big block cars getting all the attention, enthusiasts are moving to alternatives. What could be better than a purpose-built car with a ton of unique features? Smart buyers already know this, which is why you should call now—someone else is already eyeballing your car.
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