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.
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.
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.
Ford has decided to bring back the “Bullitt” Mustang for a third time, and I was fortunate enough to drive it during the recent press trip in (where else?) San Francisco. The car will be offered for two model years, 2019 and 2020, and will offer 480 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque from its 5.0-liter V8 engine.
I owned a 2001 Ford Mustang Bullitt, the first modern model to wear that designation. Many Mustang experts consider it one of the best versions to come off the “Fox” platform, which was essentially unchanged from 1979 to 2004. That Bullitt sported the same Highland Green paint and torque-thrust-type wheels as the original 1968 car that starred in the movie. It also had a highly tuned suspension system that made it one of the best handling Mustangs from that 25-year platform. The exhaust system was also tuned to sound better than the Mustangs of that era. And it did.
I grew up a car guy for several reasons, not the least of which were two older car-guy brothers. Their influence had me reading about muscle cars, with a particular focus on Mopars, before I was 15. I was well schooled in all the various Mopar muscle cars before I got my driver’s permit, and while I gravitated toward the Plymouth Superbird and GTX I also had the same fondness for E-bodies that every Mopar fan has. The Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda are two of the most iconic muscle cars ever created.
I’ve never owned a Plymouth Barracuda, but I’ve had two original Dodge Challengers. The first one, a 1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye, was purchased in 1991, during my last year in college. It was equipped about as well as that year’s Challenger could be, with a 340 V8, pistol-grip 4-speed transmission and factory air conditioning. It was also an original B5 Blue car with a black vinyl top, though when I got it the top was stripped off and the roof was painted black.
It’s not an overstatement to describe the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R as the most fun I’ve ever had at a race track. The Ford Performance engineers were targeting a car with not only power and poise but also uncompromised at-the-limit communication and confidence. And they nailed it.
Much ado has been made about the GT350R’s flat-plane V8, and deservedly so. The engine revs past 8,000 rpm, creating a glorious exhaust note while offering one of the broadest torque bands you’ll find in a modern, or vintage, automobile. The engine makes 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a slick-shifting Tremec 6-speed that sends power to a mechanical limited-slip differential.
The Shelby GT350R’s drivetrain is undeniably impressive, but it’s this Mustang’s handling capabilities that made me fall in love during the Ford GT Owners Rally in Utah. Hammering this car around Utah Motorsports Campus quickly illustrated both its ultimate grip and its confidence-inspiring behavior at the limit of traction.
In August of 2017 another gathering of Ford GTs and Ford GT owners came together in Park City, Utah. While this was the 12th Ford GT Owners Rally, it was the first to feature new Ford GTs alongside 2005 and 2006 models. I had every intention of driving my 2005 Ford GT to this rally. After all, it was the same road trip I’d made in my GT just 4 months earlier to attend the new Ford GT press launch.
Sadly, after planning to drive the GT my schedule shifted and I couldn’t afford the 2 extra days to make the trip up and back. I quickly purchased airplane tickets and wondered what kind of rental car I’d be stuck in while following GTs through the mountains of Utah. Then I had an idea. What if I contacted Ford and asked for one of the new Shelby GT350Rs? I hadn’t driven one yet, and I’d be showcasing the Shelby to a highly-targeted demographic of likely customers.
Last week’s Flash Back Friday featured my 1969 Plymouth GTX, the third car I owned (before I turned 16 and got my driver’s license…) and my first car that actually ran when I bought it. That GTX provided me with a wealth of memories, enough to justify another blog of its own, but as much fun as it was my second car, a 1970 Plymouth GTX, brought me even more joy.
I actually owned both GTXs at the same time for over a year. I bought the 1969 Plymouth GTX in April of 1985 for $2,200. The car was far from mint, but it was complete and ran fine, which makes that price seem all the more amazing 33 years later. I bought the 1970 Plymouth GTX in September of 1986 for $4,000. The ’70 was in near mint condition and all original with just one repaint. I sold the 1969 GTX in December of 1987 for $2,500, which was a monetary loss because I’d put an easy $1,000 in that car before it left. I couldn’t justify keeping both of them on my high school car budget, and I loved my 1970 Plymouth GTX far more. I kept that one for 24 years.
Yesterday I talked about one of the colors I considered for my new Ford GT. Today I’ll identify the only other paint-to-sample (custom) color I considered: Petty Blue.
Petty Blue is a color Plymouth offered on its vehicles in the early 1970s. It’s called Petty Blue because of its association to Richard Petty, one of the most famous NASCAR racers of all time. If you’ve seen the animated Pixar movie CARS the character “The King” is voiced by Richard Petty and the car represents a 1970 Plymouth Superbird painted Petty Blue.
I have loved this color ever since I first saw it in my early teens. Generally speaking I find blue, in all its hues, the best color for a car. And within the spectrum of blue, Petty Blue is one of my favorite shades. I told this to my Ford GT Concierge and asked for a sample, which Ford provided.
When the sample arrived it further confirmed how much I loved the color. I actually locked my new Ford GT specification with a paint-to-sample Petty Blue shade. But that was on a Friday, and I had until the following Tuesday to change my configuration. On the following Monday I changed my Ford GT color, bailing out on Petty Blue. Why?
It may seem like my world revolves around the Ford GT, but as mentioned a couple days ago I also own a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. In fact, it was just over a year ago when I committed to buying a Dodge Demon after driving it at the press introduction. When I made that commitment I knew buying a Demon would pretty much nuke my ability to keep my 2005 Ford GT and get a new Ford GT. There was simply no way to keep all three cars — the math wouldn’t work no matter how creatively I wrote the equation.
I’ve owned a lot of cars over the past 34 years and I’ve decided I’m going to start featuring them on Flash Back Fridays. Let’s start with my first real car, a 1969 Plymouth GTX
I actually had three cars before I got my driver’s license. Blame my two orders brothers, both certified grease monkeys who averaged owning about 4 cars each during my teen years (when they were in their early 20s). Technically my first car was a primer gray 1966 Dodge Coronet 500 with no drivetrain. The dream was to drop in a 440 and make it a killer street car. Then I found an all-original B5 blue 1968 Dodge Charger R/T and forgot all out the Coronet 500. But the Charger had a seized engine, massive quarter panel rust and no title (bought it for $200 from a salvage yard). I had visions of making it a killer street car before I spotted a 1969 Plymouth GTX on a used car lot while (no joke) coming back from passing my driver’s permit test. Unlike the previous two cars, this one was complete and ran. So while it technically wasn’t my first car, the 1969 Plymouth GTX was my first running car.