Mopar maven John Troxel’s restored ‘71 Dodge Challenger F/C
see a lot of “tribute” AA/FC at Nostalgia events around the country, but the number of original ex-fuel Funny Cars that have been restored to period correct status and that actually will make a burnout and a pass down the track are extremely rare. To find one that was driven by an iconic figure is even more rare.
So, when I got the chance to do a car feature on an original car driven by one of drag racing’s pioneer women drivers, Della Woods, I jumped at the chance. I got the opportunity to get to know Della and her husband/tuner Dee when I first got into the business but, truthfully, I never saw her drive in the early days. Getting the chance to thoroughly check out one of these early nitro cars gave me even more respect for the drivers and builders of the early nitro Funny Cars.
Mopar fanatic John Troxel, when he isn’t promoting races and swap meets, uses his spare time to restore and race vintage Mopar race cars. He estimates he has owned, restored, and raced nearly 100 high-performance Mopars, but the Della Woods ’71 Challenger he owns and his pal Chris Schneider drives is his first Funny Car.
John found the car setting outside in the weather on the farm of Joe Powell, which is near Jackson, Tenn., and knew instantly he had to have it. As you can see from the photos the car was pretty rough but the original 1970 Logghe chassis and fiberglass limited body was intact … sort of. Regardless, John paid the other John the forty-five large ($4,500) that he asked for pushed it on the trailer and took it home to his Holts Summit, M., shop.
“ When we went to look at the car where it was setting, outside with some other race cars on Joe Powell’s Tennessee farm, it looked pretty good. We didn’t really understand how much damage there was to the body’s rear deck until we stripped it,” John remembers. “That’s when we saw the damage and the amount of work it was going to take just to get the body restored. I wasn’t even sure it could be saved.”
John estimates that he and his pals have more than 2,000 man-hours and $12,000 invested in restoring the fiberglass Limited Challenger body to the pristine condition it is today.
This car is unique for many reasons: there simply aren’t that many cars from the early 1970’s that are both original and race-able, but perhaps the most unique feature of the car is that it is 95 percent period-correct as far as the chassis, body and drivetrain is concerned, The rear end is the original Dana-60 housing stuffed with 4:10 gears and the trans is a modified OEM Chrysler three-speed Torqueflite.