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Could this be the rarest 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger ever made?

1970 Sunroof Hemi Challenger

Original Dodge Challengers powered by Hemi engines are already close to the peak of muscle car collectibility. 

However, a bright orange Challenger coupe could possibly be the holy grail for Mopar enthusiasts. 

Thoroughly restored to immaculate condition, this is the only 1970 Hemi Challenger R/T that was made with a factory sunroof

From the track to the street

1970 Sunroof Hemi Challenger

The significance of the 426-cubic inch Street Hemi engine on the muscle car world is just as great today as it was when new. Originally designed to dominate on NASCAR ovals, the “Elephant Engine” became available in Dodge road cars to help homologate it. 

Producing 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque, the 426 Hemi was sold for just five years between 1966 and 1971. Fewer than 11,000 cars were sold with the giant block, in part due to the substantial cost.

A 1970 Challenger R/T buyer would have needed to spend an extra $779 to get the Hemi, adding almost 25 percent to the list price. It perhaps explains why fewer than 200 Challenger Hemi coupes were sold that year. 

Fully loaded with options

1970 Sunroof Hemi Challenger

Whoever originally bought this Challenger R/T was clearly not worried about the price tag. Along with the monster Hemi engine, this also dived deep into the extensive options list for the brand-new Challenger. 

The impressive Go Mango exterior paint was complemented by optional 15-inch Rallye wheels. A white interior features six-way power bucket seats, along with a AM radio and 8-track player. 

A four-speed manual transmission came as part of the Super Track Pak, along with a 4.10 Dana rear axle. Power steering and power brakes were included due to the Hemi engine being equipped. 

A truly unique machine

1970 Sunroof Hemi Challenger

The option that makes this car unique is the sunroof. Mopar historians believe that this was the only 1970 Challenger R/T to combine the monster Hemi engine with the M51 sunroof option.

Ticking this box meant the Challenger would be taken from the production line in October 1969 and handed to Detroit-based ASC. The company would complete the official sunroof conversion, before the car went on to its life in California.

Steve Juliano, the late car collector and restorer, would come to acquire the car. The unique sunroof Challenger R/T would be the final restoration project completed by him.

Restored to original condition

1970 Sunroof Hemi Challenger

Juliano spent more than thirty years creating an extensive collection of cars and motoring memorabilia, including restorations made in painstaking detail.

This Hemi Challenger R/T still wears its original bodywork, and has the same Hemi engine it left the factory with. Inside, the dashboard is original, whilst the optional Rim Blow steering wheel is a new old stock item. 

The Rallye wheels wear period-correct Goodyear Polyglas tires, serving as a reminder of just how much attention was paid by Juliano.

Just how expensive is a unicorn?

1970 Sunroof Hemi Challenger

Trying to place a value on this unique Mopar machine is not an easy task. 

Examples of the nine Hemi-powered Challenger R/T convertible frequently top more than $1.5 million at auction, like this car sold in 2019. 

A closer comparison might be the 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda convertible, of which only two exist with a Hemi engine and manual transmission. Mecum’s 2014 Seattle sale saw one of these cars sell for an incredible $3.5 million. 

No silence needed in this gallery

1970 Sunroof Hemi Challenger

Mecum is also currently advertising the sunroof Hemi Challenger R/T as part of its Gallery sales platform. This allows buyers to deal directly with the company to buy a car, rather than through the traditional auction route. 

The car was featured at the Mecum 2020 Glendale event earlier in the year, but for now remains unsold. No price is listed, leaving serious buyers free to negotiate. 

Whatever the cost, this sunroof Hemi is likely to be worth the price for the muscle car collector who already has everything. 

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Recreate your Vanishing Point movie dreams with this 1970 Dodge Challenger

1970 Dodge Challenger RT

One of the cars for sale at the upcoming H and H Classic Motor Car Auction has a special movie connection. 

The 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T included in the sale is said to have been inspired by Vanishing Point, the 1971 cult classic film

For fans of the movie, or Detroit muscle in general, this represents a relatively rare chance to buy a desirable ‘70 Challenger. 

“He’s presently driving a Dodge Challenger”

1970 Dodge Challenger RT

Introduced in late 1969 for the 1970 model year, the Dodge Challenger was intended to take on the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. Smaller than the Charger, it was offered in either coupe or cabriolet body styles.

Engine options ranged from a 198-cubic inch (3.2-litre) inline-six with 125 hp, through to the terrifying and expensive optional 426-cubic inch (7.0-litre) Hemi V8 with 425 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque. 

With more than 76,000 sold in the first year, the Challenger certainly captured the wallets of many Americans. It also caught the attention of the production team making Vanishing Point.

“Speed means freedom of the soul”

1970 Dodge Challenger RT

A total of five brand-new Dodge Challenger R/Ts were supplied for the production of the 1971 film, all finished in Alpine White. No factory modifications were made, with the cars prepared by stunt coordinator Carey Loftin, who had previously worked on Bullitt with Steve McQueen.  

Vanishing Point would see delivery driver Kowalski, played by Barry Newman, set out to reach San Francisco from Denver, Colorado in less than three days. 

Along with trying to evade the police, Kowalski also meets and inspires numerous characters along the way. 

American rock band Audioslave would use the film as the basis for the music video accompanying their 2003 single “Show Me How to Live”.

“Kowalski, can you hear me?”

1970 Dodge Challenger RT

The seller of this particular Challenger R/T was clearly a fan of Vanishing Point, using the film as a starting point for the restoration work on the car.

A combination of Alpine White paintwork, and a black vinyl interior, mean the car apes the one used by Kowalski. Larger deep-dish wheels, and a Challenger T/A-style rear spoiler, have been added for extra visual impact. 

Inside remains the same as when it left the Chrysler factory in Hamtramck, Michigan in 1970. This means a three-spoke steering wheel, along with a Rallye dashboard finished with woodgrain trim, as was standard for all R/T cars. 

“The last American hero”

1970 Dodge Challenger RT

Powering this particular Challenger R/T is the gigantic optional 440-cubic inch (7.2-litre) Magnum V8 engine, fitted with ‘Six Pack’ carburettors. Official factory ratings put output at 390 hp, accompanied by a thundering 440 lb-ft of torque. 

Being cheaper than the 426 Hemi option, but still with serious performance, made the 440 R/T a popular choice for Mopar fans. Contemporary road tests claimed it would hit 0-60 mph in around 6 seconds, and run a quarter-mile sprint in under 14 seconds. 

An optional three-speed automatic transmission was specified for this car, whilst it also wears an exhaust system with quad tailpipes. 

“Patiently. That’s the only way to wait for somebody.”

1970 Dodge Challenger RT

Opportunities to buy true muscle cars like the E-Body Challenger in the UK are rare occasions. The chance to purchase a desirable 1970 model year Challenger R/T, with inspiration from Vanishing Point, is rarer still. 

An estimated sale price of between £50,000 and £60,000 ($62,000 to $75,000) compares favourably with Challenger values seen in the United States. However, the fuel mileage will be as low as you might suspect…

The H and H Classic Motor Car Auction will take place on Wednesday 29th April. To ensure the safety of staff and bidders, the sale itself will take place behind closed doors with being placed by telephone or made online.

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