Amid Dodge’s launch of its brand-new 1970 Dodge Challenger, the Dodge Hamtramck Plant (known as Dodge Main) began to produce the brand’s newest muscle car in the late summer of 1969. It is common for an automaker to produce a few “pilot vehicles”, which are then used to test quality and control, make adjustments, perfect the vehicle’s assembly processes, and sometimes used as a press vehicle.
This particular car was one of those vehicles. Built on Saturday, August 1st, 1969, this Dodge Challenger is one of the very first Challengers ever produced. Sources believe that this particular may in fact be the first-ever Dodge Challenger convertible built with the legendary 7.2-liter (440 cubic-inch) SIX PACK V8. Historians also believe that this may in fact be the fourth ever Challenger built at the Hamtramck plant, since only three other Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) were known for the 1970 Dodge Challenger prior, to this car being built. This indicates that the car itself was already a piece of Mopar history, before even leaving the assembly line.
Helping to add to the rareness of the vehicle, according to ChallengerSpecs.com, there were only 2,921 convertibles built in the 1970 model year with only 99 of them being 440 SIX PACK V8-powered cars. Of that number, only 61 convertibles include the SIX PACK with a 4-speed manual transmission.
The 440 SIX PACK V8 was an amazing engine itself. As a cheaper alternative to the legendary 7.0-liter (426 cubic-inch) HEMI V8, the 440 SIX PACK produced 390 horsepower (36 less horsepower than the HEMI) and 490 lb.-ft. of torque (same amount of torque as the HEMI) but cost a lot less the more powerful HEMI. The SIX PACK used three Holley 2-barrel carburetors as well as some internal component upgrades and a lot more tuner friendly than the HEMI. The engine was a fairly new addition to the Mopar lineup, being only 6 months old at the time this car come of the assembly line.
Painted in Bright Red (FE5) and equipped with a color-matched white top and R/T longitudinal stripes, this car has lots of curb appeal. The fender tag indicates a Y91 code, meaning that it was to come off the line with a “show car” finish.
The car was equipped with the A33 Track Pack Package, which gave the 4-speed manual cars a 3.54 Dana 60 Rear Axle with Sure-Grip limited-slip differential and a performance cooling system. This particular car also got a power convertible top, power steering, power front disc brakes, and chrome Magnum 500 (W23) wheels wrapped with Goodyear Polyglas GT tires. The exterior is equipped with factory hood pins, chrome tips, luggage rack, performance hood, and flip-open gas filler grip.
Inside, there is a 6-way driver’s seat, premium vinyl upholstery, woodgrain-type center console, Hurst Pistol Grip shifter, power windows, the A01 Light Group, driver side and passenger side matching exterior chrome mirrors, tinted glass, AM/FM stereo, and Rallye dash with tachometer.
The car was restored in 2004 by Julius Steuer, who is one of the leading classic Mopar restoration specialists in the country. This means that this pilot car looks just as it did leaving the Hamtramck plant in August 1969.
Now, if this car looks familiar it’s because it was presented at last year’s Mecum Indy event where it went unsold. This vehicle will be offered as part of the Mecum Gallery Exposition—an exposition sale that will be held separate from, but in conjunction with, Mecum Kissimmee 2022.
The vehicle will be on-site at the Kissimmee auction for inspection and purchase for the duration of the event, starting today January 6th, to the 16th, and purchase arrangements can be made directly with on-site representatives of the Mecum Gallery Exposition, or by contacting Mecum representative Rob Williams by phone or text at (262) 236-7705 or by email at [email protected]. A 10% buyer premium applies.
You can see new photos and information on the Mecum website.
1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Convertible “Pilot Car” Image Gallery: