Finders Keepers: Steve Moore’s 1970 Challenger T/A Gator Top


KEEPERS

Horse Trading; it’s how a lot of Mopar guys get some cool stuff. This is how Steve Moore from Asheboro, NC managed to pick up a very rare 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A. Only one FT6 Dark Tan Metallic 1970 T/A is known to exist equipped with a factory Gator Grain top and a bench seat, column-shift automatic configuration. When Steve came across the car back in October 2015, being a T/A Challenger fanatic, he knew exactly what it was.

Knowing he had to have it, Steve traded cars with the owner; the T/A for Steve’s Super Track Pack Plum Crazy Purple 1970 Challenger R/T. The T/A had a rough life before Steve, as the owner before him had prided himself on keeping the car in “barn find” condition. As wonderful as that sounds, it really wasn’t a barn find or a survivor of any type. Well, it survived a bunch of owners before him and some really bad body work but that’s about it.

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Sold new by Westend Chrysler Dodge in Fort Frances, Ontario, in 1970, it somehow made its way to Winnipeg, Manitoba, before ending up for sale around 1974 on the used car lot of Westport Chrysler Plymouth. By 1985, a fellow by the name of Pat remembered putting gas in it when he worked at a service station and remembers seeing a strange tow bar installed on the car. Over this time as well, somebody had removed the original column shift automatic and poorly hacked-in a 4-speed conversion. The original bench seat was also traded out for a pair of buckets.

In 1989, the car was sold to a gentleman in Alberta. The T/A ended up sitting behind his parents’ house for nearly 13 years. He attempted to sell the car twice on eBay and eventually the car was sold in May 2002. Reg Friesen bought the car and from all accounts, washed and waxed it before quickly flipping it around September 2002.

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The new owner also decided to make a quick flip and posted the T/A on eBay shortly thereafter in November 2002. From there, another buyer, a man named Brett, purchased it and took it to the States. Brett started to restore the car, correcting many of the major problems including converting it back to an automatic on the column and reinstalling the split-bench seat as originally equipped from the factory.

Brett decided to put more money into his housing project and listed the car on eBay in August 2003 and a month later sold it to Brian Cledawg. Now, if you are counting, that’s five owners in little over one year! Brian eventually traded the T/A for a Hemi engine and some cash to a guy near Columbus, Ohio; who Steve Moore, the current owner, purchased the car from.

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Once Steve got the car home, he started thinking about the next step with it. Steve told Mopar Connection that since he has so many other things going on, he doesn’t plan a full-blown restoration right away. Since he just couldn’t take the messed up front end and wacky stripes, he decided the best plan of attack was to get the major cosmetics attended to.

The first step was fixing the wounded front end. At some point in its life, someone had driven it up onto a concrete curb, bending the core support in the process. Over its life as well, the original latch tray support was cut out and a fancy extender was welded on. From there, it was screwed to the core support.

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Since Mopar Connection originally came across Steve’s project on Cuda-Challenger.com, he has fixed the front end and welded in a brand new core support from Dynacorn. After that, he started the tedious task of replacing the stripes and reconditioning the original FT6 paint the best he can; which he says has turned out to be a nightmare!

His next step is to get the front clip back together, finish the stripes and drive it. When time permits, he says he wants to replace the dutchman panel, repair the rear window rust and install a new Legendary Gator Grain top. We wish Steve good luck in his restoration process and thank him for saving this unique machine.

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Cody Cole

Associate/ Car Feature Editor – cody.cole@shawgroupmedia.com Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '70 Coronet, '71 Charger R/T, '71 Road Runner, '04 SRT-4, '06 Grand Cherokee SRT8, '08 Challenger SRT8, '16 Wrangler Unlimited Back Country and a '17 Ram 1500 Rebel. Cody can truly and proudly say him and his wife are true Mopar nuts in love with all types of Mopars!

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