Ed Skanes’ 1970 Challenger T/A

The Genuine Article

This beautiful sublime 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A is as real as it gets. This car has not just been restored; this car has been resurrected from the scrap yard and returned to its former glory. This classic example of American road racing history is exactly the same as it was when it rolled out on the grid at Lime Rock in the 1970’s. The sight, the sound, the smell of the exhaust -- nothing’s changed from the glory days of the Trans-Am series. This car is not like new, it’s the Genuine Article.

First, a quick history lesson. The Trans-Am Series was originally formed in 1966 as the brainchild of John Bishop, the presiding President of the SCCA. The series began its existence as the Trans-American Sedan Series during the onset of the “pony car” era. The cars were based on a production-based unibody with what were essentially mostly stock suspension components. The series became known for the competition between the major manufacturers at the time, and spawned a number of high performance production vehicles, such as the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro. Just about every manufacturer was represented in this series, American Motors campaigned the Javelin, Pontiac rolled out their ever popular Firebird, Mercury entered the field with the Cougar, and Chrysler was well represented with the Plymouth Barracuda, and the Dodge Challenger.

During this particular time frame, the factories were fully committed to their efforts within the series, and this was where the cliché of “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” originated. There was no secret to this type of marketing: if your race car finished ahead of the other manufacturers, you could rest assured your sales would increase over the competition. With this result-oriented system the pressure on the teams and drivers was constant, and poor finishes could result in the loss of the factory dollars and support.

With this in mind, the pressure to perform well spawned many rumors of, shall we say, creative thinking when it came to interpreting the rule book. Bodies that were dipped in acid to reduce overall weight, engine components that were not exactly factory production, and cleverly concealed extra fuel tanks, fact or fiction? More on this later. In 1971, for a number of well documented reasons, the factories withdrew their support, and the golden age of Trans-Am racing came to a halt.

After the demise of the series, a lot of the race cars were repurposed as pavement racers by local Saturday night, week-end warriors. Over the years most of these cars did not survive the rigors of the local short track wars, and ended up destined for the scrap yard, or left to decompose in an over grown farmers field, somewhere in the Midwest.