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1970 Plum Crazy Challenger 340 4Speed and Love Story Combined
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|01-01-2017, 01:53 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Castle Rock, Co.
1970 Plum Crazy Challenger 340 4Speed and Love Story Combined
The time is late summer 1971. The place is Marietta, Ga. along U.S. Hwy 41.
My friend and I would cruise up and down 41 in our spare time checking out the car lots looking for some Detroit muscle. Back in the day the car lots were full of fast cars just waiting for a test drive and a new home. Take your pick.....Ford, Chevy, Mopar. The rare ones were AMXs, Boss Mustangs and the Z28s, just hard to come by, even then. The SS 396 Chevelle and Plymouth Road Runner were probably the more common makes to be had along with an assortment of 1966-1970 Mopar makes. Keep in mind that the 426 Street Hemi was a rare find even then due to the added cost up front on a new car. If memory serves, a 426 Hemi would add something like $600-$1000 to a new car, a lot of money back then and the insurance rates would be higher also. Among the Mopar choices the 383 and the 440 were the more common to be seen and had......A gallon of high octane was 36 cents and a good hourly wage was 4 bucks an hour. One could put four new Goodyear Poly Glass White Letter tires on one's street beast for $230. That was two weeks pay for most people. Many of our site members still remember this time period.
We had been cruising hwy 41 in our usual fashion driving past Marietta Dodge and there on the lot was a '70 Challenger in Plum Crazy. Every day I would see this car as we drove past the dealership. After about a week I pulled into the lot for a better look. The color had begun to grow on me and I had taken a liking to it. Plum Crazy, white interior and a white vinyl top and the car looked brand new. We popped the hood and underneath was a 340 CID with a 4-barrel carb. The 340 was hooked up to a 4 speed tranny with the pistol grip shifter. A salesman appeared and began to tell us about the car. He said that it was a one owner and it had been traded in on something more "civilized". He also told me that the engine would crank out 348 horses vs. the factory rating of 275 hp. How he knew and confirmed this I do not know and never found out....Perhaps the dealer had a dyno in house but who knows? The car had 16000 miles on it and the selling price was a whopping $2500. That's right, 2 5 0 0 bucks. A lot of money in 1971.
We went for a test drive. I was in the drivers seat with my friend riding shotgun with the salesman sitting behind him. The salesman suggested we head over to I-75, just a mile or so from the dealership. When we got to the on ramp of I-75 I came to a full stop. The ramp had a downhill start due to the overpass. I did notice a 455 Trans Am behind and to the left that had some middle aged man with a couple of smokin' hot young ladies in the car. I thought that he wanted to pass me but they waved me on, knowing what was about to take place.
I revved up the 340 and dumped the clutch, smoking the hell out the rear tires. I pushed the engine to redline with every shift and we were going down the interstate with the Trans Am at our rear. I got into 4th gear and got the car up to 125 mph. There seemed to be some kind of a hesitation in the engine and I looked backed at the salesman and said to him that it cuts out at 125 mph so, how about a tune up? The salesman was ghost white and screaming and begging for me to slow down. BTW, my buddy riding shotgun was laughing his ass off. I held the Challenger at 125 mph and get this, the Trans Am came around us, waving us goodbye.
We got back to the dealership and parked the car on the used car lot. The salesman was somewhere between scared and pissed off and said he could not believe what I had just put him through. I said that I really liked the car and that I would "think about it" as we proceeded over to the showroom.
Sitting on the dealer's showroom floor was a new '72 Challenger 340. Mopar had dropped the R/T option for something else by now. The car had an auto tranny and I was told that the 4 speed was no longer available. The car was sharp looking and carried a price tag of about $5300. The dealer told me that because of fedgov and insurance demands that Mopar had cut about half of the horsepower out of the engine....all other auto makers had done the same. The street hemi was gone as of the '72 model year. For some reason the salesman would not let me test drive the car. The dealership ran a credit check on me and I found out a few days later that I had been turned down for a loan on the '72 challenger but that I had been approved for a loan on the '70 Challenger. After a gut check I realized, all the better.
I went back to the dealership to do the paperwork and I was asking for the salesman that had taken the test drive with me and he was nowhere to be found. Another salesman had offered to help me and I figured one salesman was as good as the other. We did the deal and as I was walking down the hallway to take delivery of the '70 Plum Crazy Challenger. I ran into the first salesman and was one unhappy man. He said something like this...."You S.O.B., you put me through that test drive, scare me to death, almost get me killed and you buy the car from another salesman!" I said to him that I had asked for him and that he was not around at the time....not a happy guy today, this salesman.
I spent a lot of time with Mr. Plum Crazy in and around Cobb County, Georgia trying to obey the speed limit and traffic laws. Sometimes the Smyrna or the Marietta police would follow me around. The car and the color must have been a cop magnet. Plum Crazy was not a common color, even then. A 21 year old in a purple car got a lot of unwanted attention.
Love happens. Even to me. No one is immune. My wife to be and I had set the date for August of '72. One problem....our budget could not afford the $90.11 car payment for Mr. Plum Crazy. So, I did what any other love struck 21 year old American male about to marry a smokin' hot, drop dead gorgeous Georgia peach would do. I sold my Challenger. I traded the love of my life for the love of my life. BTW, at the time my bride to be drove a '69 SS 396 Chevelle so it wasn't like we were missing out on a fast car. We would eventually trade the SS 396 for a new Ford Maverick as our needs were starting to change. My thinking was that the car lots are full of muscle cars and that we can always get another one. It would be a long time before that statement rang true.
Let us move ahead about 45 years. We had left Georgia for Colorado in '76 and made a home for ourselves and we still live there.
I was pleased to see Mopar bring the Challenger back from the dead several years ago. I said to myself that if they ever bring back Plum Crazy I will want to buy one. About 18 months ago my work took me in the vicinity of 104th Ave and I-25 in NW metro Denver. There is a Dodge dealership there and sitting on the lot were three new Plum Crazy Challengers lined up in a row facing the street. I almost rear ended the car in front of me when I saw this. I had seen several Challengers of various colors and trim levels for a while now and was starting to see some in the high-impact colors of the past. Every now and then a new/near new Plum Crazy Challenger would be seen.
On the south side of Castle Rock, Co. there is a Dodge dealership. One day in late spring/early summer of this year my beloved wife of 44 years and I decided to drive through the lot. Sitting on the lot was Plum Crazy 2016 Challenger R/T 5.7 Hemi 6 speed manual. All we could do was drool over the car as it brought back fond memories of our long ago youthful past. We would drive past the Dodge store and the car sat there and sat there all summer long. The wife said we needed a modern day hot rod and it was beginning to work on me. I did some internet shopping regarding this model of car for sometime and settled on this car at this dealership. I had to take a day off from work to take care of some business and stopped by the car lot. A salesman approached and we started talking about the Challenger. We went for a test drive. I got the car out on I-25, went through gears 1-4 and easily got the car to 90-95 mph and backed off. I called the wife at work and had her meet me to go do the deal. The dealer said that the car had been at the dealership for a few months with no takers. They had taken it to several cars shows with no takers. People loved the color but not the 6 speed tranny. The dealer was willing to take $2700 off of sticker in order to sell the car. The dealer said the color was almost rare for the area and it was the one of two Plum Crazy Challengers they had ever had on the lot.
We did the deal and never looked back. The love of my life and I are now the proud owners of this back from the dead purple thing. It sits in the garage and we have yet to do any burnouts and we probably never will. We have seen the speedo hit 110 mph with plenty more to go if we were to push it but we may have outgrown that....maybe. These days it is a warm/dry day cruiser and it cost a hell of a lot more than 2500 bucks. Inflation, I suppose.
Thank you, Mopar.