Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 in "Vanishing Point"

For those of us who have seen the movie "Vanishing Point", it's easy to see that although Kowalski is the "star" of the movie, he really isn't...it's the white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440.

The plot is simple, easy to follow, Kowalski is determined to win a bet that he can drive the Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours.

The stunt driver behind the wheel of the Challenger is Cary Loftin. Loftin piloted the Challenger through most of the action. As stunt coordinator he brought with him driver Bill Hickman and driver/fabricator Max Balchowsky. All three had worked together on 1968's "Bullitt" and, as a team, they were behind dozens of great car chases.

When Barry Newman, who plays Kowalski, "reaches for the Pistol Grip shifter it is a case study in why musclecars continue to have a death grip on America's automotive soul."

Challenger used the same unibody platform as Plymouth's new Barracuda, but its wheelbase was two inches longer to provide slightly more rear-seat room. It was sold in hardtop and convertible form, with performance versions wearing the familiar R/T label. Standard R/T power came from the 335-bhp 383. Two 440s were offered, the four-barrel Magnum with 375 bhp and the tri-carb Six Pack with 390. The 425-bhp 426 Hemi cost $1228 with required heavy-duty equipment.

The 440s and the Hemi came standard with TorqueFlite automatic. Ordering the four-speed brought a pistol-grip Hurst shifter and a Dana 60 axle. Gear ratios climbed from 3.23:1 to 4.10:1, with limited-slip an extra-cost item. All R/Ts got a beefed suspension, and 440 and Hemi cars got 15-inch 60-series tires, though such essentials as power steering and front disc brakes were optional.

The R/T's standard hood had two scoops that were open but didn't feed directly to the air cleaner. A $97 option was the shaker scoop, which mounted to the air cleaner and protruded through an opening in the hood. Full gauges, including a tach, were standard, and R/Ts could also be ordered in SE guise, which included leather seats and a vinyl roof with a smaller "formal" rear window.

Wheelbase, inches: 110.0    
Weight, lbs: 3,600
Number built: 2,035
Base price: $5,000

Standard Engine
Type: ohv V-8
Displacement, cid: 440
Fuel system: 3 x 2bbl.
Compression ratio: 10.5:1
Horsepower @ rpm: 390 @ 4700
Torque @ rpm: 490 @ 3200

Representative Performance
0-60 mph, sec: 6.2
1/4 mile, sec. @ mph: 13.7 @ 105



  1. Oh my post got eaten again!

    Great cars, I think I may prefer the new version which is unusual for me. Another reason that I'm jealous of you Americans. I bet these cars are cheap over there aren't they? No don't tell me I don't want to know "la la la la" no i'm not listening. :)

  2. I saw this movie years ago and loved it, even though I'm an older General Motors musclecar fan. In high school I had a '72 Pontiac LeMans (poor man's GTO)... still miss that car. Now my 'toy' is a motorcycle. Anyway, thanks for following my blog, and I just become a follower of yours!

  3. I'm a lot late to this party I know, but I was just saying on Road Captain's blog how if I had the $$ for a toy car I'd get one of the new Challenger R/Ts. As much as I have nostalgia and respect for the '70, I'll take the '10 any day of the week! That's a CAR!