The 1,000HP Gen III Hemi 1970 Dodge Challenger Dream Car

For some, Super Stock and “Super Stalk” might as well be one in the same. For others however, both are distinctly different, yet equally heroic endeavors. In NHRA Super Stock, the Big Three dumped ludicrous stacks of money to build factory ringers for bragging rights and bragging rights alone. This results in cool stuff like 9,000-rpm hydraulic roller small-blocks that run 9-second e.t.’s. By contrast, “super stalk” describes one man’s quest to chase down the exact same car for 30 years before finally convincing the owner to put it up for sale. It takes a very unique car to inspire such an extreme obsession, and the story behind Brook Niemi’s ’70 Dodge Challenger proves that the truth is indeed much more interesting than fiction.

Although people love reminiscing about how everything was better during the muscle car era, they rarely mention that it was also a time when real car guys worked at car dealerships. Imagine, for a moment, the luxury of ordering up the Mopar of your dreams with an employee discount to boot. Throw in a savvy employee’s knowledge of all the obscure option codes offered by Chrysler, and Brook’s Challenger is the result. “The original owner was a Dodge salesman in Great Falls, Montana, who ordered it as a company car,” Brook explains. “The dealership didn’t allow optioning company cars with Hemis or Six Pack induction systems, so he ordered it up with the R/T package, 440 big-block, a four-barrel carb, an A833 four-speed, and a Dana 60 rearend. Once the car arrived, he swapped out the four-barrel carb and the stock hood for a Six Pack and a factory T/A hood. The car was also optioned with the Special Edition package, which included a smaller back window, four-point seatbelts, and a console in the headliner.”

Eventually, the unique E-Body moved on to its second owner a few years later, which is when Brook first saw it and fell head over heels. “During high school in the late ’70s, the machine shop I was working at built a 500ci Six Pack engine for the Challenger. At that time it was painted white and built to look like the car from Vanishing Point,” he recalls. “I have such vivid memories of the owner pulling wheelies with the car in the parking lot. From that day forward, I always kept up with the car. The third owner purchased the car in the early ’80s and never drove it much.”

The bad news was that the Challenger’s third owner seemed to appreciate it more for its collectability than its Chevy-stomping potential. The good news was that this same lack of use kept the car in outstanding condition. “From the early ’80s to 2005, the car sat in storage. The owner at the time liked that the Challenger was one of less than 150 built with a 440 and a four-speed, but his real passion was for ’60s-era cars,” Brook says. “He planned on restoring the car back to stock someday, but he eventually had a change of heart and decided to sell it to help fund other projects. He had been sitting on my contact information for years, so as soon as I got the call that the car was available, I picked it up immediately.”

Throughout the course of its decorated history, this fine Mopar specimen had logged just 54,000 original miles. Even so, the 30-year-old paint had seen better days, so Brook stripped the car down, repainted it, and dropped the original 440 back in it. While the crew at Kindig-It Design tackled the paint and bodywork, the car revealed yet another one of its interesting secrets. “The paint code indicated that the car was originally Sublime Green. Since that made it even rarer, the shop tried to talk me into painting it the original OE color,” Brook recalls. “I understood the reasoning behind it, but in my mind the car had to be white because that’s the color it was when I first saw it as a kid. I always remembered it as a Vanishing Point tribute car, so that’s how I planned on restoring it.”

By sticking with his guns, Brook successfully re-created the car from his childhood dreams. All was good in his hood until a chance encounter with another Mopar triggered an avalanche of changes. “I was sitting at a stoplight one day when a Sublime Green Challenger R/T with a 426 Hemi pulled up behind me. It looked so good that even though I had just finished painting my car white, I decided at that moment that I had to repaint it green,” Brook says. On one hand, stripping the car back down just to repaint it seemed like an awful lot of work, and Brook was tempted to modernize the powertrain, suspension, and brakes. On the other hand, he had some reservations about throwing a bunch of non-original parts on such a rare piece of Mopar history. Ultimately, the itch to build something truly unique prevailed.

Seeking modern levels of power, driveability, braking, handling, and comfort in a 40-year-old chassis required a major overhaul of all the major mechanical hardware. Granted, a stock 440 provides plenty of scoot by most standards, but Brook wanted more power. Like three times more power. He determined that the best method of accomplishing this without increasing mass was by swapping out the big-block for a supercharged, all-aluminum Gen III Hemi. Absolute Performance (Sandy, Utah) welcomed the challenge and schemed up the perfect combination for Brook’s needs. The setup is based on an aftermarket aluminum block that’s been bored to 4.125 inches and fitted with a Callies forged 4.000-inch crankshaft, Oliver steel rods, and custom Wiseco 9.5:1 forged pistons. An Edelbrock E-Force supercharger pressurizes air molecules into a set of Thitek aluminum cylinder heads, and custom Arrow Lane headers evacuate the cylinders. The result is 426 ci of Gen III Hemi that kicks out over 1,000 hp and 1,100 lb-ft of torque. For easier freeway cruising, Brook replaced the A833 trans for a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed, which feeds torque to a Strange S60 rearend.

Of course, horsepower alone is meaningless if it all goes up in smoke, so Brook completely revamped the chassis with Reilly Motorsports hardware. Up front, the stock suspension has been replaced with an RMS K-member, control arms, sway bar, and coilovers. Out back, the factory leaf springs got yanked for an RMS four-link system. Monster Wilwood disc brakes convert forward inertia into heat, while 18-inch EVOD wheels wrapped in Nitto rubber plant the lateral and longitudinal loads to the pavement.

Inevitably, some collectors won’t take too kindly to throwing a late-model EFI motor along with modern suspension and brakes at a super rare Challenger with only 54,000 original miles. Nevertheless, from the car’s original interior to its stock body and paint, Brook has gone to great lengths to retain the essence of what the Challenger looked like when it rolled into the dealer lot in 1970. “Sure, I had some reservations about putting a bunch of modern parts on this car, but I’ve put the original engine, rearend, K-member, and suspension into safe storage. I can swap all the original parts back in very easily,” he explains.

Ultimately, Brook doesn’t have to explain himself to anyone. After patiently stalking his prey for 30 years, he’s earned the right to do whatever he wants, period correctness be damned. Despite how utterly badass Brook’s 1,000hp Challenger may be, its cool factor still takes a backseat to the incredible story behind it. Lusting over the same car for three decades, then transforming it into the ultimate E-Body, could just be the most rewarding car building experience of all time. As the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up.

Fast Facts
1970 Dodge Challenger
Brook Niemi
South Jordan, UT

Engine

Type: Chrysler Gen III Hemi small-block

Block: Mopar Performance aluminum bored to 4.125 inches

Oiling: Melling oil pump, Milodon pan

Rotating assembly: Callies 4.000-inch steel crank, Oliver rods, Wiseco 9.5:1 pistons

Cylinder heads: CNC-ported Thitek aluminum castings

Camshaft: custom Arrow Racing hydraulic roller (specs classified)

Valvetrain: COMP Cams valvesprings, Smith pushrod

Induction: Edelbrock E-Force supercharger and throttle-body

Ignition: stock

Exhaust: custom Arrow Lane headers, custom X-pipe, dual 3-inch MagnaFlow mufflers

Cooling system: C&R Racing radiator, Spal electric fans

Output: 1,004 hp at 6,200 rpm and 1,109 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm

Drivetrain

Transmission: Tremec TKO 600 five-speed manual, Centerforce clutch, Hurst shifter

Rear axle: Strange S60 rearend with 35-spline axles, 3.54:1 gears, and limited-slip differential

Chassis

Front suspension: Reilly Motorsports K-member, control arms, coilovers, steering rack, and sway bar

Rear suspension: Reilly Motorsports four-link, Panhard bar, coilovers, and sway bar

Brakes: Wilwood 14-inch discs and six-piston calipers, front; Wilwood 12-inch discs and four-piston calipers, rear

Wheels & Tires

Wheels: EVOD Challenge 18×9.5, front; 18×10.5, rear

Tires: Nitto NT05 275/35ZR18, front; 295/35ZR18, rear

Read more at: http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/enthusiasts/the-1000hp-gen-iii-hemi-1970-dodge-challenger-dream-car/ar-AAcoe4U

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