**Mickey Thompson Challenger IV restoration**

Old 07-12-2011, 09:36 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Mohave Valley, Az
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Default **Mickey Thompson Challenger IV restoration**

New user here to RJ but been a lurker for a couple years now. I finally found something worth while to post here. I'm restoring one of Mickey THompsons old off road race cars that was built in late 1977 and ran from 1978 to mid to late 1980. The car was Challenger IV.

First off, I cant tell you how excited I am to be doing this project. I can honestly say that this is one of my FAVORITE off road race cars of all time. I first saw it at the 1978 MINT 400 and fell in love with it on the spot. I saw it again at the Parker 400 and could not believe how much bigger it was than the other class 1's, and sporting a V8 and a MONSTER wing! I'm still working on trying to get the most acurrate info I can so i might be off on a couple things.......so far this is what I've got.

Challenger IV- This picture is out of Off Road magazine from 1978ish. The did a feature on Challenger IV and the article is REALLY helping me with the build.

Built in late 1977, Challenger IV replaced Mickey Thompsons single seat Marines class 1 buggy. The racer debuted at the 1978 Mexicali 300 and was running strong until MT lost a trans at speed sending the beast end over end. After repairs between races, it was given another shock in the rear, a 41" rear shock that was the talk of off road racing at the time. I'm thinking the first states race was the MINT 400 in 1978 when MT and Danny Thompson were leading the field by a pretty good margin until Danny hit a slower race car in the dust ending there day. MT lead Parker one year all the way till 8 miles from the finish when his motor went south. He got a tow close to the finish line then pushed it across for an apparent win. Turns out MT was DQ'ed for getting a tow within 1 mile of the S/F which is still a no-no today. MT did some improvements here and there, added a bigger wing to the rear, switched from regular smoothed bodied shocks to coil overs (rear) but could never seem to get the car to the finish line (as far as I know). I think a lot of that had to do with him driving the wheels off the thing instead of pacing himself (sounds a little like RG). Getting to know what MT was like, I started thinking I knew why his cars had a hard time finishing races. MT always had his hands in something. While we might be prepping, testing and working our 9-5 job, MT would be designing tires, shocks, engines, planning stadium races, hunting down sponsors, PR stuff and a bunch of other stuff, THEN getting back to the race car for prep and MAYBE some testing. If he was able to focus on any of these cars like normal people did and develop them, I'm pretty sure MT would have won a hell of a lot more races. But, like everything else, Challenger IV was retired for Challenger V a faster, smoother, bigger vehicle in late 1980 (see video/photo below).

Challenger V- This race car replaced Challenger IV in late 1980. Notice the HUGE coilover/bypass rear shock........in 1980!!!!

I don't have any footage (yet) of Challenger IV running but here is some footage of Challenger V from a movie MT produced called "Man in a steel cage" that was pulled from theaters in the early 80's....The movie company put a hold on releasing ANY of the footage so you can find it on VHS or DVD. This is pirated footage as far as I know. If your not a desert racing fan, this is pretty fast for 1980ish....

I'm pretty lucky, this is how I found the car and it's still in great shape even after sitting in a loft for the past 17 years. A majority of the parts are still there although most will have to be replaced or rebuilt. The big thing is most of it is there so there will be limited guess work on what will go where, which is a good thing since MT did not do anything conventional.

Well, I think you guys get the idea. Plan is to start gathering hard to find parts and getting this beast back on all fours so i can get a motor and trans back in her. There is still a hell of a lot of work a head but I can't wait to dive in head first.

^^^^^^^^^Couple parts I'm looking for and maybe you guys can help. Looking for a Magnesuim Dana 60 center section (the one with bolt on axle tubes) and some 3 spoke Halibrand knock off spinners (2 5/8" x 8 threads per inch). I've seen a couple Dana 60's here on RJ but looking for one that is not damaged or modified. Let me know what you got. If you think you have something for me, feel free to e-mail me at:

[email protected] or call 928.768.6306. Thanks everyone, I hope you enjoy the build as much as I'm going to enjoy restoring it!

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Old 07-12-2011, 10:20 PM
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I love historic restos of ANY breed race car ! Good luck and keep VERY detailed and documented records.

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