Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

Reply to this topicStart new topic
> 1970 Dodge Challenger - Pro Rodding, Combining Pro Touring With Street Rodding
post Jun 13 2010, 10:18 PM
Post #1

Xtreme Memberr

Group: Xtreme Member
Posts: 418
Joined: 30-June 08
From: Australia
Member No.: 3

By Combining Pro Touring With Street Rodding, The Roadster Shop Has Upped The High-End Muscle Car Ante.
From the July, 2010 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
By Stephen Kim
Photography by Robert McGaffin

At first, the reservation with which Jeremy Gerber speaks about his utterly wicked '70 Challenger seems a bit peculiar. After all, this is a machine encased in artfully sculpted sheetmetal that packs a 730hp all-aluminum Hemi, a Tremec five-speed, humongous brakes, and a trick independent rear suspension. As our conversation continues, it suddenly hits us. That's not a lack of enthusiasm in his voice, but rather an aura of quiet confidence-the kind of confidence that can only come from playing in a different pantheon of competition. Along with his dad and his brother, Jeremy spends his days building high-end street rods at the family business, the Roadster Shop (www.RoadsterShop.com). Although enthusiasts often criticize street rods as nothing more than outrageously expensive manifestations of rich guys' egos, there's no question that they represent the pinnacle of hot rodding craftsmanship. Applying those same skills to a muscle car has created quite a machine, one that exudes the same understated confidence as the crew that put it together.

Surprisingly, despite the Challenger's stunning craftsmanship and overall execution, the car was an on-again, off-again project. "Personal cars don't have deadlines, and customer cars do, so the Challenger sat in the corner of the shop and we worked on it in our spare time," Jeremy says. "Our original goal was to build a Hemi clone car, but that plan quickly went out the window. We really took a liking to the Pro Touring scene around that time, and wanted to build a modernized g-Machine that could do it all. We wanted something we could drive cross-country, run hard on an autocross, then drive back home."

From every angle, the street rodding influence is resoundingly evident. Fastidious attention to detail oozes from every nook and cranny, and all the custom contours and crevices of the sheetmetal conspire to serve a single, dedicated purpose. At the nose, the Challenger has been fitted with a custom lower valence, chin spoiler, and grille. The hood started out as a flat reproduction piece, but since it looked way too ordinary, the Roadster Shop cut out the middle and molded in a recessed scoop. Beneath the vent, a custom air snorkel crafted from sheetmetal draws cool air and feeds the carb. Reshaping the rear profile is a custom lower roll pan, a slick center-outlet exhaust, a ducktail rear spoiler, and a tailpanel that narrows the taillights down to two tastefully thin slits. Furthermore, the front and rear bumpers have both been narrowed and flush-fit to the body, and the handles, trim, mirrors, and driprails have gotten a clean shave.

Topping off the visual tweaks are a set of halo-eyed headlights heisted off of a BMW, and a conservative black-on-gray paint scheme. The overall look is both menacing yet subdued, which is exactly what the Roadster Shop had in mind. "Challengers are such sexy-looking cars to begin with, so instead of completely changing the appearance of the car, we just wanted to make it look cleaner, and more modern and refined. The idea was to build upon the lines of the factory design, and turn it up a notch," Jeremy says.

"The car's color combination and graphics are totally out there, and people tell us that it looks like we sprayed clearcoat right on top of primer. The gray is actually some leftover paint we had from the very first roadster that we built. Most two-tone paint schemes have bright colors with lots of contrast. We decided to take a more low-key approach, and left the roof, trunk, and tops of the quarters the same color as the rest of the body."

Not to be overshadowed by the sultry skin, the Challenger's mechanical pieces are equally as impressive. Between the framerails sits a 528ci Indy Cylinder Head crate Hemi that spits out 730 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. It's based on an Indy aluminum block bored to 4.500 inches, an Eagle 4.150-inch steel crank and rods, and Wiseco 10.25:1 pistons. Matched with a COMP 248/254-at-.050 mechanical roller cam, a Barry Grant 850-cfm carburetor, and Indy 440-cfm cylinder heads and intake manifold, the combo is both heroically nostalgic and potent. "It sounds absolutely wicked. The only appropriate motor for a Mopar is a big, naturally aspirated Hemi," Jeremy says. Moving farther rearward, the massive elephant mates to a Tremec TKO five-speed stick, which dispatches torque back to a Heidts independent rear suspension. The slick setup was originally designed by Heidts for street rods, then later adapted for muscle car applications. It's both simple and effective, and features a Ford 9-inch centersection mounted to the frame with a crossmember, 2-inch halfshafts, tubular lower control arms, aluminum spindles, QA1 coilovers, and inboard-mounted disc brakes.

Proving that its superb crafting skills aren't just limited to shaping sheetmetal, the Roadster Shop put on a veritable fabrication clinic beneath the car as well. Cradling the Hemi is a custom-built tubular K-member, which anchors custom control arms and aluminum spindles. A NASCAR-style splined front sway bar keeps body roll in check, and custom subframe connectors-triangulated at several points-run the length of the frame. Likewise, the exhaust system is more art than mere utilitarian piping. The elegant river of stainless steel tubing starts with custom 21/8-inch long-tube headers, which flow into 4-inch collectors and X-pipe. From there, dual 3-inch intermediate pipes tuck tightly into the trans tunnel before feeding Flowmaster mufflers, negotiating the IRS, hugging the sides of the gas tank, then merging together once again while exiting into the custom roll pan. Since band clamps and saddle clamps are just too ordinary, fancy V-band clamps join the tributaries together. "Even though this car sits very low, the exhaust is tucked in so nicely that nothing hangs less than 5 inches off the ground. This is very important, since driveabilty is a top priority," Jeremy says. "Unfortunately, it was the middle of winter when we finished this car, but we couldn't wait to drive it so we took it out anyways. It was a riot trunkin' it through the streets of Chicago during the middle of a snow storm. I can't wait for some nice summer weather so I can cruise it and run it on the autocross."

The beastly Hemi has been set back as far as possible to improve weight distribution and steering rack clearance. As with the exterior, gray and black components mesh with bright red accents. A Billet Specialties serpentine belt system anchors the alternator, power steering pump, and A/C compressor.

The Roadster Shop has proven once again that applying street rod savvy into building a muscle car yields one heck of a street machine. So why would a well-known street rod shop venture into the world of muscle cars? Jeremy says it's an escape from the stresses of building gazillion-dollar roadsters for the sole purpose of winning a trophy. "We started out as a chassis shop building frames for '32 Fords, then transitioned into building complete cars. However, indoor car shows aren't for everyone, so we're now taking on more and more muscle car projects," he says. "When it came time to build our own car, we wanted to build something that was over the top, but still completely streetable, functional, and comfortable. Personally, I have more fun building muscle cars because if you plan on running them hard, they have to be overbuilt and over-engineered to handle the rigors of abuse. As a car builder, I really enjoy that challenge."

The Roadster Shop spent countless hours tucking the exhaust tightly into the trans tunnel. CNC-machined from thick blanks of stainless steel, even the tailpipe support brackets are works of art. To maintain the "wash and wear" appearance of the undercarriage, the stainless Rock Valley gas tank was painted black.

For Jeremy and the rest of the Roadster Shop crew, the Challenger isn't their first crack at building a street rodded muscle car. Its LS7-powered '62 Corvette, dubbed C1RS, took home the 2009 Goodguys Street Machine of the Year award, and ripped up many an autocross course along the way. For seasoned street rod veterans like Jeremy, this muscle car stuff must seem way too easy. That's why if you ever start talking to him about his Challenger, you'll probably sound more excited about it than he does. While he most certainly appreciates what he's accomplished with the car, he also hails from a different league, where the typical best-in-show caliber muscle machine wouldn't even garner a second look on the indoor car show circuit. More than anything, that explains why the man is so confident, and why his cars reflect that aura of understated confidence. After all, as impressive as a 450-foot Albert Pujols home run may be, how excited would Pujols get about those long balls if he hit them off of minor league scrubs throwing 85-mph heaters?

Just about everything inside is a custom one-off, including the dash, gauge cluster, center console, and suede leather seats. The driver faces a set of Nexus gauges, and a three-spoke MOMO Drift steering wheel. A Vintage Air A/C system cools the cabin, while an Alpine stereo fills it with tunes. The macho shift knob is a CV Products piece the Roadster Shop installs in all of its stick-equipped builds.

The high-winding Hemi is lubed by a dry sump oil system featuring a Moroso pan. With Heim joints in lieu of bushings at every critical connection, it's clear that the Challenger means business.

The trick air snorkel and carb hat started life as a piece of sheetmetal that was cut, rolled, sectioned, and welded back together. It draws cool air from the recessed hood vent, and directs it to the carburetor.

The Heidts IRS is a generic setup that's offered in 55-, 56-, 58-, 60-, and 62-inch track widths for $5,300. The Challenger uses the 55-inch version, and installing it involved welding a crossmember to the frame, to which the pumpkin and coilovers attach. Like many street rods, the brakes are mounted inboard. To fit the 335/25R22 rear meats, the tubs were widened 3 inches.

By The Numbers
Jeremy Gerber Mundelein, IL


Type:Chrysler 528ci Hemi

Block:Indy Cylinder Head aluminum bored to 4.500 inches

Oiling:custom Indy dry sump with Moroso pan

Rotating assembly:Eagle 4.150-inch steel crank and 6.860-inch rods; Wiseco 10.25:1 pistons

Cylinder heads:Indy 285cc aluminum castings with 2.25/1.94-inch valves CNC-ported to flow 440 cfm

Camshaft:COMP 248/254-at-.050 mechanical roller; .604/.591-inch lift; 110-degree LSA

Valvetrain:COMP lifters and timing set; Indy 1.6:1 shaft-mount rockers,

Induction:Indy 426-2 single-plane intake manifold, Barry Grant 850cfm carburetor

Ignition:MSD billet distributor, 6AL ignition box, coil, and plug wires

Fuel system:Rock Valley Tank, Aeromotive pump

Exhaust:custom 21/8-inch long-tube headers and 4-inch X-pipe; dual 3-inch Flowmaster mufflers

Cooling:Edelbrock water pump, AutoRad radiator

Output:730 hp at 6,600 rpm and 660 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm

Built by:Indy Cylinder Head (Indianapolis, IN)


Transmission:Tremec TKO 600 five-speed, Centerforce clutch

Rear axle:Heidts independent rear suspension with Ford 9-inch centersection, 3.90:1 gears, and aluminum halfshafts


Front suspension:custom tubular K-member and control arms; QA1 coilovers

Rear suspension:Heidts IRS assembly and tubular control arms; QA1 coilovers

Brakes:Baer 12-inch discs with six-piston calipers front and rear


Wheels:Budnik Gasser 19x9 (6-inch backspace), front; 22x12 (6.5-inch backspace), rear

Tires:Pirelli P-Zero 255/30R19, front; 335/25R22, rear


Motor & Transmission By John Kuiper Race Engines.
Suspension & Brakes By Ron Missian Motor Sports.
To See My Build Album Click On Any Of The Below Pics.

Priscilla, Queen Of The Vettes
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:


Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 15th December 2018 - 02:59 PM