A few short years before the 1973 oil crisis would deprive the original muscle cars of their high-horsepower V8s (oh, how history repeats itself), Mopar dropped a bomb when introducing the E-Body for 1970. This was the platform that served the OG Dodge Challenger and the third-gen Plymouth Barracuda. And an Oregon-based specialist just happened to showcase two insane builds of the sort at SEMA 2022. Enter Graveyard Carz’s Hellcat Redeye-swapped 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and 1971 Plymouth “Phoenix Cuda”.
Both cars were displayed straight in the Mopar official booth. And we’ll focus on the Challenger in this article, as this is a fresh build.
As for the Phoenix Cuda, whose back-from-a-fiery-death tale is from another world, we’ll cover this in a dedicated article. For the record, the project has been documented on TV—if the Graveyard Carz name sounds familiar, it’s because the Springfield, Oregon shop, which is led by Mark Worman, has been enjoying its own TV show on Motor Trend since 2012.
What is a 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A?
Back in the 1970s when most racecars were infinitely closer to showroom models than the silhouette racers of today, the win on Sunday, sell on Monday philosophy was going strong.
So, with the introduction of the E-Body, Mopar decided to build motorsport iterations for the Dodge and the Plymouth. And since the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Trans Am racing series required street versions for homologation, Dodge came up with the Challenger T/A (Trans Am) and Plymouth released the Cuda AAR (All American Racers). By the way, this Cuda AAR spent 40 years in a horse shed before being brought back into the world.
Trans Am rules limited engine size to 305 ci, with the racer’s engine being a destroked version of the street Challenger’s 340 ci V8. However, the road-going Challenger T/A didn’t just keep the 340, but added a trio of two-barrel carburetors and stronger internals, thus introducing the six-pack, which was officially rated at 290 hp. And while this was the same output as that of a standard four-barrel 340 V8, the real-world numbers of the T/A actually sat at well over 300 hp.
The handling dedication of the racecar was theoretically transferred to the road car. So while the latter wasn’t lowered like the first, it did feature Rallye suspension with heavy-duty hardware. Nevertheless, the revamped semi-elliptic leaf springs at the back raised the car just enough for its megaphone side exhaust tips to fit, albeit with the exhaust gasses still passing through the muffler at the back before reaching these cool pieces.
The fiberglass hood came with a functional air scoop for those hungry carbs, while a ducktail spoiler and in-your-face exterior graphics completed the standout look of the special edition. Alas, with the Challenger T/A not offering the expected racing results and the street version being prone to understeer due to its smaller front tires, this version, as well as its Cuda AAR sibling, went away after its first year.
Dodge only built 2,400 Challenger T/As, with the consensus being that around 1,000 came in four-speed manual form like this Graveyard Carz example, with the remaining 1,400 units featuring the three-speed TorqueFlite automatic.
Nowadays, we can talk about a 1970 Challenger T/A that almost broke into the $200,000 arena during an auction. However, that’s an exception, as you should still be able to get a good-condition example for about $80,000. Of course, some owners like to go crazy with these beasts, as is the case with this twin-turbo 70 Challenger T/A, which has morphed into a drag racer.
Graveyard Carz’s 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A with Hellcat Redeye muscle
For this unit, the Oregon specialist installed a Hellcat Redeye—coming under the Hellcrate name when you buy the thing without a car around it, the motor makes 807 hp and 717 lb-ft of twist right out of the box.
And, possibly due to fitment-related reasons, the supercharged 6.2L HEMI isn’t mated to the usual Tremec six-speed manual. Instead, the unit is linked to a 5-speed manual provided by American Power, which works with a Centerforce dual-disc clutch.
Power is sent to the rear wheels via a Moser Dana 60 rear axle sporting 3.54:1 gears. And while the leaf springs are still present, up front the machine has been gifted with a Magnum Force Transformer k-member and suspension.
Interestingly, the factory 15×7-inch steel wheels are still present and we can say the same about the tires—the Goodyear Polyglas GTs come with an E60/15 profile up front and use a taller G60/15 setup at the back. Of course, given the newfound muscle, we expect the rolling setup to be present mostly for display purposes, at least if this build is going to keep its form now that the Las Vegas custom car show is over.
The factory Challenger T/A maintained the standard interior and so does this car, albeit featuring new parts that keep the old-school design. You can almost smell the leather in the interior pic of the gallery below!
As for the exterior, that’s Vitamin C Orange, one of the most popular Mopar hues out there, while the new side decals give everybody the big Hellcat news in proper T/A fashion.
While we’re here, we’ll add that Graveyard Carz Season 17 is scheduled to premiere in December 2022, as the specialist has confirmed in the comments section of the Instagram post below. So perhaps we’ll get to see more of the Hellcat Redeye 1970 Challenger T/A. Until then, you can see TV host Cristy Lee getting up close and personal with the Dodge in the Insta video below.