In late 1996, Mark Hemrich’s ride of choice was his 1970 Dodge Challenger. One day in discussion with a friend, he told Mark of a guy in his apartment building had a Challenger just like his sitting in the underground torn apart. Naturally Mark was interested, so he asked his friend to snap a few pictures of the Challenger. The next time he saw Mark, he showed him pictures of the Challenger just as promised. The first thing that caught Mark’s attention was the Challenger wasn’t actually a Challenger but a 1970 Charger R/T!
Originally from Washington State, the Charger had been brought across the border to British Columbia by the seller with the intentions to do a quick flip on it. After importing it into BC, the seller stored it in his underground parking lot in one of downtown Vancouver’s many high-rise towers. With the exception of a couple of minor rust spots the size of a quarter at the bottom of each quarter panel, the Charger was pretty much a rust free shell with the original drivetrain in it. It was missing the glass, seats, door panels and seat belts. Mark knew he had to have it so a deal was made and the Charger transferred ownership.
The seller told Mark he had a friend with a tow truck who would give him a very good deal and charge him only $50 to tow the Charger back to his house. Mark agreed and headed off towards home to wait. When the Charger finally arrived, Mark noticed something wasn’t right – the front end of the Charger was damaged. The front bumper was mangled badly along with some damage to the front fender and lower valance. While it was being towed from downtown Vancouver to his house, it fell off the tow truck in Port Moody and went through a bus stop damaging the Charger and completely destroying the bus stop in the process.
Thankfully, a bus had just left so the bus stop was empty or it could have been much worse! The tow truck driver did not use the tire straps that secure the car to the wheel lift so it was more or less freely sitting on the wheel lift with nothing holding it down. Mark filed an insurance claim against the tow truck company for the damages and the whole ordeal was settled pretty quickly for an amount Mark was happy with. That money was a good start for the Charger’s restoration.
Mark fully restored the Charger himself over the better part of 1997. After he finished the body work, it was then sent to the paint shop to get the engine bay, door jams and trunk painted. Mark then took the Charger back home, re-assembled the body panels and sent it back to get the rest painted. The Charger’s exterior and interior was restored exactly how it came new from the factory. It wears its factory FC7 Plum Crazy Purple topped with a black vinyl top and a white R/T stripe across the rear.
The exterior of the Charger is nicely detailed with white 440 engine call-outs on the hood and a pair of hood tie-down pins. The interior is a stunning charcoal color and rather than the usual buckets and console shift set-up; it features a fold down center “buddy seat” and a column shifter! The Charger’s dashboard is beautiful refinished in wood grain and the gauge cluster houses the original Tic-Toc-Tach.
Mark wanted some good power numbers from the Charger so he decided to put the numbers matching 440 engine into storage for safe keeping. The Charger is packing some serious heat under the hood housing a 500 cubic inch stroker motor sitting between the inner fenders. The engine features a Milodon oiling system, Mopar M1 intake coupled with a 850cfm Mighty Demon carburetor, ported and polished 906 heads with 2.14/1.81 valves, Eagle rods, Ross 9.75-1 pistons, Mopar .557 solid lifter cam, Crane 1.6 ratio roller rockers and a MSD engine controller.
Fuel is quickly supplied by a pair of electric Carter fuel pumps. The exhaust set-up consists of Hooker Super Competition headers that go into 2.5-inch piping with 40 series Flowmaster mufflers topped off with a pair of beautifully shined factory B-body exhaust tips. Mark says he took the Charger to the race track with the original 440 and ran a solid 12.09 @ 108.9 mph but hasn’t taken it to the track with the new stroker engine.
The transmission is the factory HD 727 column-shift automatic that has been fitted with a 3600RPM stall converter. The Charger was originally equipped with an 8.75” that housed a one-wheel-peel setup with 3.23 gears. After blowing up two 8.75 rear ends at the race track while running drag radials, Mark wanted something a little more bulletproof so he upgraded the rear differential to a Dana 60 with 4:56 gears that work perfect for those solid hard launches. During the restoration, Mark replaced every suspension component as he didn’t want to use anything old with all that power. He installed 50/50 shocks in the rear and 90/10 drag shocks in the front. Hemi leaf springs and .960 torsion bars were also added for good measure! Steering is a breeze in the Charger thanks to the power steering that it came with new.
With the factory four-wheel drum brakes, Mark said, “You never knew if it would stop straight or pull to one side.” After a few frightening incidents, he upgraded the front brakes with a SSBC power disc kit that uses an adjustable proportioning valve to give the Charger the proper stopping power that it needed! Mark has put 72,000 miles on his Charger since the restoration and he isn’t afraid to admit that it gets driven hard. He says, “The back tires only seem to last about 10,000 miles per set. I’m on the 7th set so far! I even had Robin McQueen over at Automolove.ca design an awesome banner of the car which proudly hangs on the wall next to it!””