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1973 Mecum Creamsicle Challenger

Tim.g.howard

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I suppose it's time to start my restoration thread. I bought this Challenger at a Mecum auction back in April and found it to be a little rougher than I'd hoped. The car was running and I attempted to drive it home but didn't make it far. Among the issues, it had holes in the gas tank. I had the gas tank replaced and found that the front floor pans had rusted badly and been patched with fiberglass. The car is a 318 base model that was originally pale green, so I'm thinking well, at this point I can do whatever I want to it because it's not a high value specimen, so restomod it is. My goal was a car with good street manners but still plenty of sport in it but also mostly period correct. I've commissioned a 440 big block stroker 493 engine for the car and was going to fix the 318 while I waited for the engine to be ready. Roughly my plan was to get the car driveable and enjoy it a bit and address things a bit at a time. Well, the 318 was running very rough and back firing through the carb when put under load. Upon investigation, rocker #8 was barely moving on idle so I started to prepare for a cam swap. Pulling the cam, I found several lobes completely worn. Pulled the oil pan and check the oil for metal and while there was a lot of "Sludge" in the bottom of the pan, there was no sign of metal so there was still hope that maybe the bearings and journals were still ok. I pulled the rods and lifters and the lifters were clearly worn but I expected that. Next, I pull a rod cap and main cap #3 and use a caliper on magnet base to check if the main journal is true. The bearings were clearly worn but so far the journals were checking out. Next I completely pulled the engine and then checked each main journal. All checked out ok accept, the #1 main (the last one I checked). It turned out to be .005 out of tollerance with the caliper. The checks on plastigauge showed wear but not so much that new bearings wouldn't bring it back within spec.

Anyway, longs story short, with the engine fully out and the new big block on it's way, I've decided that this 318 is now yard art and my restoration is under way.

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Tim.g.howard

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My goal for the RestoMod (and I'd like some advice here) is to create a vintage looking Challenger that will compete with the modern Scat Pack Challengers in power and handling. I've already commissioned the 440 stroker and the target for it is 600hp. The car was originally a Torqueflite automatic 727 with 8 3/4 rear diff at 2.76 and I want to up the rear gear ratio and convert to manual. So I'm thinking:

Engine: 440 Stroker (TBD on a lot of details about Exhaust, Intake, etc.)

Transmission: TKX 5 speed manual conversion kit (requires tunnel mod and comes with drive shaft) 5th gear would be OD

Frame Stiffening kick (level 2?) with subframe connectors, torque boxes, fender and front fork reinforcement

Rear Diff: Strange Dana 60 @ 3.5 (Will I want 3.54 or 3.73)?

Front Suspension: QA1 coil over Handling conversion kit (comes with rack & pinion steering and big block engine mounts on tubular K member)

Rear Suspension: Hotchkiss rear springs?

Brakes: Willwood disk conversion

Wheels: front 255 50r17 rear 295 45r18 (saw someone on this forum chose this for a cuda and hoping it fits as I'd rather go smaller than mod the tubs at this point) I want something that looks like Keystones or Mags.

New Radiator for Manual

Dakota Digital RTX

Vintage Air

Retro Radio

What do you guys think? Any advice? My intent is to swap out the drive train and leave the exterior of the car cosmetically alone. Ultimately I'll want to strip and repaint the car but for now I'd like to get it driving again. Since the manual transmission conversion requires a modification to the floor pan I've decided the next step is address the rust in the front floor pan so I've ordered a replacement from AMD. I also wonder what I should do with the automatic console, Do I have to cut out the old console mounts and weld in new manual console mounts? Should I just delete the console?

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SCATPACK 1

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I suppose it's time to start my restoration thread. I bought this Challenger at a Mecum auction back in April and found it to be a little rougher than I'd hoped. The car was running and I attempted to drive it home but didn't make it far. Among the issues, it had holes in the gas tank. I had the gas tank replaced and found that the front floor pans had rusted badly and been patched with fiberglass. The car is a 318 base model that was originally pale green, so I'm thinking well, at this point I can do whatever I want to it because it's not a high value specimen, so restomod it is. My goal was a car with good street manners but still plenty of sport in it but also mostly period correct. I've commissioned a 440 big block stroker 493 engine for the car and was going to fix the 318 while I waited for the engine to be ready. Roughly my plan was to get the car driveable and enjoy it a bit and address things a bit at a time. Well, the 318 was running very rough and back firing through the carb when put under load. Upon investigation, rocker #8 was barely moving on idle so I started to prepare for a cam swap. Pulling the cam, I found several lobes completely worn. Pulled the oil pan and check the oil for metal and while there was a lot of "Sludge" in the bottom of the pan, there was no sign of metal so there was still hope that maybe the bearings and journals were still ok. I pulled the rods and lifters and the lifters were clearly worn but I expected that. Next, I pull a rod cap and main cap #3 and use a caliper on magnet base to check if the main journal is true. The bearings were clearly worn but so far the journals were checking out. Next I completely pulled the engine and then checked each main journal. All checked out ok accept, the #1 main (the last one I checked). It turned out to be .005 out of tollerance with the caliper. The checks on plastigauge showed wear but not so much that new bearings wouldn't bring it back within spec.

Anyway, longs story short, with the engine fully out and the new big block on it's way, I've decided that this 318 is now yard art and my restoration is under way.

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Righty Tighty

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By the way, nice looking car! It's unfortunate about the issues you found, but it sounds like you've got a very solid foundation for what you want to do. Looking forward to seeing your progress.
 

Challenger RTA

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Here is your postings. click on the ones you want to delete. I think after a week it can't be deleted.
CLICK HERE : Tim.g.howard
The link above will take you back to your postings.
I posted a screen shot so you can see the bottom left. Report Edit Delete. Will only will be seen on your posting when available.

Screenshot 2023-09-17 at 16-49-19 1973 Mecum Creamsicle Challenger.png
 
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ChallengerGary

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The chassis stiffening will be a great addition to the car to make it feel and drive more like a modern car. If you don't end up going with the tubular front end, make sure to box the lower control arms plus front and rear sway bars.
 
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moparleo

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As Far as matching a Scat pack in power and mandling, the power part is no problem.
But the Gen III Hemi is based on small block weight and dimensions . Doesn't use cubic inches to make its power. Only a 394 ci.
Handling, you can't match 4 wheel independent suspension, especially with a big Dana (is a truck rear end) in the rear.
Unsprung weight is king with keeping the tires in contact with the ground.
More planning, decision on what compromises you can live with.
Sounds like a great, long term project.
Keep us posted with pictures and/or start a restoration thread.
 

Ctriton20

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On my 1973 Challenger, I went with the 400/512 stroker with trick flow 240 heads. It made around 580hp at the wheel on the dyno. I removed the 3.91 and installed 3.23 for drivability. Running a 3 speed trans by A&A.
 

Tim.g.howard

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On my 1973 Challenger, I went with the 400/512 stroker with trick flow 240 heads. It made around 580hp at the wheel on the dyno. I removed the 3.91 and installed 3.23 for drivability. Running a 3 speed trans by A&A.
Awesome, going to look those up. What rear diff are you using?

Thanks
 

Tim.g.howard

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This week I've removed the 727 Transmission, drive shaft, and exhaust. I removed the fiberglass patches that were previously used to fix the rust holes in the driver's and passenger's floor pans.

Transmission.jpg

Drive Shaft.jpg


Exhaust delete.jpg


Fiberglass floor patches.jpg

Driver floor.jpg

passenger floor.jpg


Next, I'll remove fuel lines and should be ready to weld in new floor patch panels
 

Tim.g.howard

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Today I bought a Hobart welder from Tractor Supply, some welding gloves and jacket, some 0.03 gauge mig welding wire and some 22 gauge panels to "learn on". Need to find some weld gas and then go get a lesson from some guys in the car club. I had previously purchased a Eastwood surface conditioning tool with a few different grades of cylinders as well as buying a die grinder from Harbor Freight that I used to cut out the exhaust.
 

Tim.g.howard

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Nice to see your progress. How did you remove the fiberglass patches?
With a gasket scraper and a hammer...

I'm cutting those pans out anyway so probably didn't even need to remove the fiberglass but don't really want it catching on fire when I get in there.

I had the car up on the highest level of the quick jack and the transmission wasn't clearing the rear axle so I jacked up the rear differential with a floor jack and a few 2x4s until I had the clearance...
 
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