When it comes to barn finds, nothing’s more satisfying than seeing a classic that’s been sitting for decades come back to life with proper cleaning. But it gets even better when the vehicle in question is a rare muscle car. Say a 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A.
If it looks familiar, it’s because I’ve already introduced you to this Mopar. It happened earlier in May 2023 when Tom Cotter, Hagerty’s barn find prospector, found it sitting in a warehouse. It had been parked in the same spot for about 26 years but hadn’t been driven since 1984. That’s right; this rare and valuable Challenger sat almost untouched for 39 years.
But despite not getting a sip of gasoline in almost four decades, the 340-cubic-inch (5.6-liter) V8 engine under the hood agreed to fire up and run for a short while.
A couple of weeks have passed since then, and Tom returned to show us how he managed to fix the drivetrain and put the Challenger T/A back on the road.
Fortunately enough, the muscle car was in surprisingly good condition after so much time in storage. While almost 40 years of sitting can damage a vehicle, this Challenger got very lucky and soldiered on without major rust issues or a locked-up powerplant.
Granted, it also got a lot more attention than the average barn find, which can make a massive difference, but it’s still amazing that it emerged out of the warehouse still in one piece.
As for the 340 V8 “Six Pack,” it needed a lot of work to bounce back. Tom had to fix a vacuum leak and pull out the carburetors and the intake manifold for much-needed repairs. He also replaced a gasket and fitted the car with a new fuel pump and fuel tank.
But I think it was a far easier mission than a complete engine rebuild. And seeing such a cool muscle car being returned to public roads is priceless.
Speaking of which, this Challenger T/A is not only rare by production numbers. It’s also a rare gem in terms of originality. Because while Dodge built more than 2,000 T/As in 1970, very few of them made it to 2023 with all the sheet metal and internals still intact.
Not to mention still wearing the factory finish. Yup, this Mopar is one of those unrestored and unmolested survivors. The kind that crosses the auction block for six-figure sums.
A one-year-only version, the T/A was launched in 1970 as a homologation special, enabling Dodge to race the Challenger in the SCCA Trans Am series. While the race-spec car had a 303-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) V8, the production model arrived with a “Six Pack” version of the regular 340 V8.
It was rated at 290 horsepower. The Challenger T/A also came with extras like a low-restriction exhaust with side-exiting pipes, a larger air scoop, a fiberglass hood, and a heavy-duty suspension system.
Dodge built 2,399 units of the T/A in 1970. Although the company planned a similar model for 1971, the revised T/A was canceled following Dodge’s withdrawal from the series.