My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration

Posted By: fbernard

My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration - 12/16/13 09:39 PM

Hello Moparts!

Time to start my own restoration topic.
I've owned this 1970 Convertible for 13 years, and it's now time to rebuild it.
I had an accident in 2007 which ruined both fenders, front valance, right LCA and K-member.
I Swapped the K-member and LCA from my hardtop (which had just received an AlterKtion months before), and stored the car.
I've been gathering parts for a while, and the restoration has just started.

For the record, this car is the only convertible imported new in France in 1970.
From the way French Challengers were optioned, and the very low number of cars imported, it is believed that these cars were not ordered by clients, but by the top brass at Simca (Chrysler France).
We got export models with big-block 383 engines, power front disc brakes, rally dashes, but also with flat hoods, no RT badges, and grand-daddy color choices...

My car was ordered on October 21, 1969.
It arrived in France on April 13, 1970, and was delivered to the first owner on April 22 in Nice, on the Mediterranean Sea.

I have the fender tag, Dodge export plate and export decal but no build sheet (I don't know of any French import with a build sheet either).

Original color is EB3 (Light Blue Metallic), with (H6B5) blue interior.
Original engine is a 383-4 bbl.

Rumor has it that the first owner also had a Superbird (which now resides in Canada), and that he swapped the 440-6 from the Superbird into the convertible after a nasty accident involcing a cyclist...
The Superbird was never seen on the road after that. It was for sale about 10 years ago.

Somewhere along the way, someone blew the six-pack engine in the convertible, another 383 found its way under the hood, was later sold to another Challenger owner and yet another 440-6pack was reinstalled.

The car was partially restored in the early 1990s, got its new paint (something more EB5 blueish), and the interior was totally reupholstered in blue leather.
Nice work when it was done, probably, but time hasn't been nice to it and it's now pretty bad. Besides, as I found out, the dash pad is not original (1971 AC black dash)

I bought it like this in 2000, not knowing anything about Mopars (I knew I wanted a 1970 Challenger, and after looking for a hardtop for a long time, I just bought this - the first I ever saw in person).
It looked like this :

After the accident in 2007, I started thinking about how I wanted the car done.
With so many modifications done to it over the years (non-matching engine and trans, 1971 R/T hood, leather and glue on all the interior), a full-on perfect restoration didn't really make sense.
Besides, EB3 blue might be good-looking if you live on sunny California, but here it's just plain dull 250 days a year.

Not knowing if I could restore the interior in the original color (and unsure I wanted the car blue), I settled on a black interior (Too bad Metro didn't follow up on the convertible rear panel topic).

I will install frame connectors, and the OEM rear swaybar I took out of my hardtop when I installed the RMS rear suspension.
Engine-wise, it will retain the 404-6 pack for a while, until I rebuild a 383 I bought as a longblock years ago (from a French cuda which now lives in LA)

With the help of a friend, I stripped the car down in 5 days, storing everything in little zipper bags, tagging the bigger parts.
That went rather easily. No nasty surprises at this point, the shell looked really good.
Only the remnants of an ancient fender bender (rear quarter had been replaced) were visible.
Also, we found out my accident dinged the front right framerail (1/3" in from the right rear K-member mount, should be easy to straighten). Had not noticed it before since the K-member from my other Challenger bolted on with not much effort.
Here it is awaiting the blaster :

My friend took care of the blasting :

Now, with the car totally stripped, came some surprises. The restoration in the early 1990s used lots of resin and fiberglass, especially in the cowl area, and on the right-hand A-pillar.

The trunk floor and left extension aren't looking too good either, so I'll have to replace them.

Still, it's going to be relatively easy, the framerails are in perfect shape (I used an borescope and looked inside, there's not a speck of rust), firewall and inner fenders are good too, it's just rust in the usual places (wheelhouses, lower quarters).

That's all for now, I'll add some more pics when I'm home.
Posted By: fbernard

Re: My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration - 12/18/13 12:58 AM

Here's a pic of the cowl area. Rusted all along the lower seam with the firewall, and several big rust holes where water probebly stayed under the lower windshield moulding :

I found two screws I can't identify, on the firewall, on the driver side, they were there when I took the car apart, they didn't hold anything, just went through the firewall. the other side is in the left fenderwell. Does anyone know what they are for?
Inside :

Outside :
Posted By: N9671X2

Re: My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration - 12/18/13 03:45 AM

Manual washer pump screws
Posted By: fbernard

Re: My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration - 12/18/13 01:06 PM

That explains why I never saw this before.
Posted By: fbernard

Re: My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration - 12/18/13 08:14 PM

Here's the cowl!
Posted By: fbernard

Re: My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration - 12/20/13 03:14 AM

Not in the mood for heavy work tonight, I just put aside all the tags from the car and took pics of them.
The fender tag is OK, it just needs to be slightly media blasted and primered.
Chrysler France tag is OK, needs a bit cleaning on the edges, but not much more
The Dodge export tag is almost illegible, I think ECS has them, I'll have to replace it.
The dash VIN tag has some creases, some work will be needed to straighten it a bit without hurting the digits. I guess whoever reinstalled it after the dash was covered in leather did push on the tag when installing the rivets.
I wonder if I can find the correct paint to touch up on it without repainting it whole, I'd like to fill the specks of paint that are gone without wiping out the (silk-screened?) logo.
Does anybody reproduce the silk-screen/stamp/whatever printing process which was used on the VIN tag?

Posted By: RJS

Re: My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration - 12/22/13 09:27 PM

ECS makes the Vin transfer also.
Posted By: fbernard

Re: My 1970 Challenger Convertible restoration - 12/24/13 02:18 AM

Thanks you RJS. A message to ECS is in order then.
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