Cruising L.A. In A 1970 Dodge Challenger | Challenger Life Forums

Cruising L.A. In A 1970 Dodge Challenger

Discussion in 'Dodge Challenger and Industry News' started by Houdini, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. Houdini

    Houdini Platinum Level Supporter

    Aug 18, 2009
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    S.E. MI

    Hannah Elliott, Forbes Staff
    I write about cars, fashion and luxury living

    Why can’t we have cars like the 1970 Dodge Challenger anymore?

    I get that they’re heavy and fuel-thirsty and manual everything, but they’ve got such personality. Such virve.
    To drive one is to embark on a relationship.
    I had a certain understanding with a certain Challenger this week in Los Angeles–I’m in California to driveICON jeeps, film some stars (more on that later) and drool over Ferraris at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It was a blue 1970 Dodge Challenger provided by Hotchkis Sport Suspension, with reproduction interior, leather-clad bucket seats and BF Goodrich 15″ rally wheels.

    I loved driving that loud, powerful thing around Santa Monica. It lends a certain swagger that is immediately addictive. And I’m not even a muscle-car person.
    But every relationship takes work. This, no less. Here are the things Mr. Beast did that under some conditions might start to grate:
    - Confounded valets with its ignition idiosynricies. The tiny gold key used to start it had to be inserted tongs up, rather than traditional tongs down. Few valets think to flip the key over after they’ves sat for five minutes trying to force the wheel around.

    While we’re on the subject, the Challenger happens to be a cold starter. Like, pretty cold. You’ve got to goose the gas a little to get it going and make sure the rumble is going to stick around rather than cough a few times and go dead. It’s best to let it run for a few minutes before driving it, too. Just to get the joints lubricated again.
    - Made me sweat. This car is hot both temperature- and other-wise. There is an air conditioning knob on the left of the steering wheel, but I never saw it do nuthin’.
    - Forced me to listen to the engine rather than Zeppelin. (No radio.)
    - Forced me to be picky about parking spots. The turning radius on this thing was not exactly forgiving. Case in point: Parking in a downtown L.A. lot required several nagivation/evaluation/retreat scenarios before finding a spot wide enough to accomodate us. Which leads me to my next point.
    - It’s not a low-rider. But it rides low. You’ve got to watch those pot-holes and the back-alleys on Wilshire. They’ll get you every time. (On that note: Cruising down the boulevard, you’ll feel lots of divots on the road you never realized were there. But if you can handle that sort of thing, it’s exhilerating. Every relationship has drama, right?)

    Drank gas like LeBron drinks Gatorade. I practically watched the fuel guage move left as I drove the 405. In fact, one of the few instructions the team from Hotchkis gave me before driving the car was to strictly obey the E. “If it says E, it’s really empty,” Laura Conrad told me. “There’s no leeway. You will run out of gas.” Thanks for the tip.
    All that may sound like a lot, but the point is that the Challenger’s idiosyncracies didn’t outweigh the good times we had together.
    It handles well, with some leeway in the slim steering wheel but with a strong sense of direction. It rumbled through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood like it owned the place, and the long hood, angular fenders and taunt haunches have become icons of American motor history.

    [LEFT][COLOR=#3C3C3C][FONT=Verdana][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Georgia]I could have done without the tuning stickers and tags on the windshield, but if vintage American cars are your thing, the Challenger is one of the best. Props to California drivers: They immediately recognize and are quick to appreciate its muscle-bound profile. I mean everyone recognizes this thing, from the dudes yelling through their windows on the freeway to the lady behind the deli counter at a local market: “I’m digging that Challenger you drove in with,” she said. “What year is it?” “1970.” “Mmm. So great.”
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Georgia]This Challenger is special, too, in that it has an automatic transmission, a rare thing for this type of vehicle. It did have old-style brakes (no power assistance), though, which spells a great leg workout if you drive for any length of time–the brakes work fine, but you’ve got to jump on them hard to get a quick result. It made the Toyota Carolla rental car I picked up a few days later seem annoyingly touchy.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Georgia]Other quirks: This is a two-door car, of course, but the back seat is big enough to be practical. I admit the lap-only seat belts (no shoulder components back in the day) made me feel like I was getting away with something slightly dangerous.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Georgia]It all adds up to a big personality and entre into a special world of those In The Know about what makes vintage cars interesting to drive. When I first pulled onto the street in that Carolla rental, it was a big letdown. Huge.

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  2. dwb09ChallengerM

    dwb09ChallengerM New Member

    May 11, 2010
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    Miami,Fl suburbs
    I wonder what motor it had,because originally when they had the flat hood and the v8 on the fenders ,they were 318s which was no speed demon.

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