Flash Back Friday: 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE

2018-Dodge-Challenger-SRT-Demon-Lake-Elsinore-Front
The 2018 Dodge-Challenger-SRT-Demon looks almost as good as a Ford GT

My 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is actually the third Dodge Challenger I’ve owned. As featured a few weeks ago, I had a 1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye when I was in college in Colorado. That car was pretty cool, but as fun as it was to drive I always wanted a big-block Dodge Challenger, preferably a 440 or 426 Hemi version from 1970 or 1971.

1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye Front
The Challenger’s body damage was not extreme, but every panel had a noticeable flaw

About 13 years after selling my 1973 Dodge Challenger Rally I found another Challenger while browsing eBay. This was was an all-original, one-owner car with every single feature I wanted. First, it was a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE, which immediately makes it a relatively rare and well-equipped car. There were plenty of Dodge Challenger R/Ts produced, and a fair amount of Dodge Challenger SEs were made, too. But there are very few original Challengers that featured both packages in one car.

1970 Dodge Challenger RT SE Front Sunset
My 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE had every factory feature I wanted

Though I didn’t know it at the time, this car was also a Chrysler executive ordered car, which is why it was so loaded with features. When I saw the eBay listing I was thrilled to see this Challenger’s list of factory features: 440 engine, air conditioning, AM/FM radio, rear defrost, rim-blow steering wheel, chrome trim (mirrors and windows) and hood pins. And, best of all, it was painted my favorite vintage challenger color: Plum Crazy Purple.

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Ford GT: It Looks Good in So Many Shades of Blue

New-Ford-GT-Liquid-Blue-European-Shoot
You simply can’t go wrong with a Ford GT in blue, any shade of blue

Blue is one of my favorite colors for cars. Just about any shade of blue on just about any car is okay by me, and from the looks of how many Ford GT buyers are picking this shade I’m not alone in my preference.

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S Front Miami Blue
A Porsche 911 Turbo S in Miami Blue further proves my point about blue cars

After much consternation I chose Liquid Blue for my Ford GT. I almost went with a custom color, Petty Blue, but with so many other people picking custom blue colors from the medium, non-metallic Porsche blue family (Mexico, Miami, Riviera) I figured everyone would assume I’d also picked one of those. Paying for a custom color only to have it confused with other customer colors didn’t appeal to me.

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New Ford GT: To Stripe or Not to Stripe…

New Ford GT Front Press Conference
The new 2017 Ford GT is mobbed after its world debut in January 2015

There’s an ongoing discussion among new Ford GT fans: To stripe or not to stripe.

2005 Ford GT Front Stripes
The 2005-2006 Ford GT looks very good with the stripes

The new Ford GT is among the most dramatic vehicle designs ever created. It shows obvious ties back to the original GT40 and the 2005-2006 Ford GT, but it’s a clear break from the past. That past is rife with stripe-bearing Ford GTs, all of them looking quite good with stripes over the hood, roof and engine cover. But does this stripe treatment transfer to the new Ford GT?

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Two-Wheeled Tuesday: Triumph X75 Hurricane

1975 Triumph Trident 1973 Triumph Hurricane
The 1975 Triumph Trident and 1973 Triumph Hurricane are two of my favorite bikes

For a long time, the Triumph X75 Hurricane was my ultimate dream motorcycle. As previously noted, I grew up in a house full of classic British motorcycles. Sure, 1960s and 1970s BSAs and Triumphs weren’t quite as “classic” in the 1980s. They were mostly thought of as old, leaky, unreliable has-beens compared to the more advanced Japanese motorcycles of the day.

1973 Triumph Hurricane Dodge Challenger
The Hurricane’s fiberglass bodywork flowed from its tank to the side panels

But any enthusiast with foresight knew, even back then, these bikes told a compelling emotional story flush with timeless design elements and an engaging man-machine interface. And within the massive spectrum of classic British two-wheelers there were bikes like the Vincent Black Shadow, the Norton Commando and the Triumph X75 Hurricane. I appreciate all legendary British motorcycles, but I personally loved the Triumph X75 Hurricane.

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The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon: America’s Porsche 911?

Dodge Challenger Porsche 911 Auto Show Girl
These two models share timeless styling that hasn’t changed, and hopefully never does

Few cars posses a style that can hold up over a single decade, let alone multiple decades. One of those cars is the Porsche 911. The 911 has certainly evolved since its introduction in 1963, but the sports car’s basic profile and proportions remain unchanged after more than 50 years. I’d argue that at this point Porsche can’t change the 911 without risking a massive revolt from the car’s dedicated fanbase.

Porsche 911 Vintage Show Monterey
The Porsche 911’s basic shape and proportions have aged gracefully

I’d make the same argument about the Dodge Challenger. Unlike the Porsche 911, the Dodge Challenger doesn’t have 5 decades of uninterrupted production. Dodge’s muscle car was only in production for 5 years before it vanished for 35 years (and no, the Mitsubishi “Challenger” from the 1980s doesn’t count…).

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Flash Back Friday: 1973 Saab Sonett III

Saab Sonett Willow Springs Track
The Saab Sonett III was more track capable than I’d have believed before trying it

My two older brothers influenced my car enthusiasm. They both owned multiple vehicles before they had their driver’s licenses, and by the time I got my license they were well into their lifelong odyssey of owning old, odd, eclectic models. One of those cars was a 1973 Saab Sonett III. This front-wheel drive, two-seat sports car was made from 1966 to 1974, and considered a Porsche 911 competitor at the time. Saab actually made the first Sonett in 1955, but only 6 units of the fiberglass convertible were built, utilizing a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine.

Saab Sonett Driving
With a modified engine my Saab Sonett was quicker than a Porsche Boxster

The Sonett returned in 1966 as the Sonett II. This time it was a fiberglass 2-door coupe, but it still used a two-stroke engine until 1967, when it switched to a 1.5-liter Ford-of-Europe sourced V4 engine. The Sonett was revised again in 1970, with a more effective rear hatch and flip-up headlights, plus a name change to Sonett III. This version went unchanged until 1974, though it gained the same unsightly oversized bumpers many small European cars suffered in the U.S. starting in 1973. The Saab Sonett III ended production in 1974

Saab Sonett Interior
Everything from the body to the interior was original and clean in this Saab Sonett

I drove my brother’s Saab Sonett several times when I was still a teenager. At the time I was a dedicated V8 muscle car fan, but the Sonett surprised me with how much fun a four-cylinder, front-wheel drive sports car could be. Twenty years later, in June of 2000, I was at a Barrett-Jackson auction at the Petersen Publishing Museum where this particular red 1973 Saab Sonett was going up for auction. I didn’t plan on buying it, but I looked the Saab over closely and confirmed it was clean and original…

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The New Ford GT: How to Fully Appreciate Its Capabilities

New Ford GT Black Orange Comparison Shoot
The new Ford GT is more capable than most drivers will ever know

I’ve driven a new Ford GT on multiple occasions, including its press introduction in April of 2017 and during the Kelley Blue Book Ford GT comparison test in May of 2018. During that comparison test we took all three generations of Ford GT to Lake Elsinore on Ortega Highway in South Orange County.

New Ford GT Overlook Roadhouse Comparison Shoot
Our shooting location took us out along Ortega Highway for 2 days in a row

Ortega Highway, also known as State Route 74, is like many roadways in Southern California. It’s a twisting two-lane ribbon of pavement that could, theoretically, offer an amazing sports car (or motorcycle) experience. I say theoretically because Ortega Highway, like most California roads, is overrun with traffic congestion most of the day. And night. But after the final day of shooting the Ford GT comparison, as I drove the new Ford GT back to Irvine on Ortega Highway, and the roadway was uncharacteristically useful…

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What Superhero Should Drive a Ford GT? Captain America!

Ford GT Captain America
Does any car better fit Captain America’s mojo better than a Ford GT?

As a Halloween “treat” I’m willing to post an image I normally wouldn’t share widely. But this shot turned out really well, mostly because the Ford GT diverts attention from me, so here you go.

When I dressed as Captain America for Halloween a couple years ago I had no plan to drive the Ford GT. In fact, I was going to drive the used 2009 Porsche 911 Carrera S I owned at the time. Then it occurred to me: “Captain American in a Porsche 911, while a Ford GT sits in the garage?!” I quickly broke out GT and captured this shot before hopping in the American supercar.

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The Ford GT Carbon Series: Also Known as…MY CAR!

Ford GT Carbon Series Leadfoot Top
This Ford GT is painted Leadfoot, a factory Ford color not officially offered on the GT

Ford unveiled the new Ford GT Carbon Series today at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. I was there, watching the press conference in person, though I already saw this car in Detroit a couple weeks ago. As often happens with automotive world debuts, Ford let some members of the press see the Ford GT Carbon Series early so they could prepare their stories ahead of time.

Ford GT Carbon Series Leadfoot Curving
Like its the predecessor, the Carbon Series has a weight advantage over standard Ford GTs

I’ll get into the specifics about the Ford GT Carbon Series in a moment, but the biggest news about this car is that, well…it’s MY car. I don’t mean this car specifically, which looks great painted in Ford’s factory shade of Leadfoot Gray (a popular Raptor color, but not officially offered on the new GT). No, I mean my Ford GT will also be a Carbon Series model, with all the unique mechanical and cosmetic features that go with it.

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Ford GT: A Comparison of Three Generations

Ford GT Generations Lookout Comparison Test
Bringing together three generations of Ford GT is a rare opportunity

In May of 2017 Kelley Blue Book performed a comparison of the three generations of Ford GT, meaning the original Ford GT40, the second-generation 2005-2006 Ford GT, and the new Ford GT. I arranged the comparison test using the black-and-orange West Coast Ford GT press car, plus my 2005 Midnight Blue Ford GT and a Gulf livery Superformance Ford GT40 from their local offices here in Irvine, California.

This wasn’t the most original idea — it’s been done a couple times by other publications — but just because something has been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done again, and better.

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