This ’72 Challenger is a Backcountry Jeep Eater

Click Here to Begin Slideshow Images courtesy Brandon Imagine, if you will, a 1972 Dodge Challenger E-body that can eat your Jeep CJ/Rubicon for lunch, both on the highway and the backcountry rock-hopping trails. Now, feast your eyes on this baby. I’m not usually one to think that classics like this should be modified in this way, but even I have to admit that the person who did this really knew what they were doing, and did it well with the right parts.

This ’72 Challenger is a Backcountry Jeep Eater

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Images courtesy Brandon

Imagine, if you will, a 1972 Dodge Challenger E-body that can eat your Jeep CJ/Rubicon for lunch, both on the highway and the backcountry rock-hopping trails. Now, feast your eyes on this baby. I’m not usually one to think that classics like this should be modified in this way, but even I have to admit that the person who did this really knew what they were doing, and did it well with the right parts.

Military Underpinnings and Chevy Power Melded (Welded) Together Create a Beast

Brandon, the owner, tells us he bought the car basically as is, and it’s a beautifully clean 1972 Dodge Challenger E-body welded onto a military-issue M1009 chassis and frame. The M1009 was a light duty transport truck based on an up-rated (to ¾ -ton capacity) Chevy K5 Blazer that never went into service. The frame and chassis are structurally capable of handling more abuse than the stock Silverado underpinnings you’d see on a unit on your dealer’s lot.

Chevy Fire Sitting Under the Dodge’s Hood

The person who built this went the easier and cheaper route when it came to putting together a motor/trans combination instead of using Dodge parts. To wit, motivation comes from a stock GM 5.7-liter powerplant backed by a stock 4L60E automatic. This means no adaptation was needed to mount the engine and trans. Controlling the transmission is a cab-mounted Quick 1 controller from US Shift. The engine breathes through long-tube headers and a custom Flowmaster exhaust.

Sturdy Dana Gear

2H, 4H and 4L gearing are supplied by a beefed up and rebuilt NP205 transfer case that sends the torque to a Dana 44 with locking hubs up front and a Dana 60 with straight axles out back. Brandon didn’t mention what the gears were, so I called him up to ask and he said they were 4.88 both front and rear. The tires are monstrous 33X12.5XR15 BFG KOs with only 3000 miles on them. The mechanicals (engine, trans, and transfer case) only have 3400 miles on them.

Brand New Goodies on the 5.7 Liter

During our conversation, Brandon informed me that the original owner didn’t properly tune the engine prior to Brandon buying it, so that was the first thing he did. According to that owner, it had a GM Performance HEI distributor, but the engine was running so badly he had to swap it out for a stock HEI distributor.

Edelbrock Intake

In front of that is an Edelbrock hi-rise intake (Brandon doesn’t remember which model number, though). He also told me that it had an Edelbrock four barrel, which was too much for the stock 5.7 and had “fuel feed issues in the crazy angles it sees off road” so he swapped that out for a Quick Fuel 650 that he says runs perfectly on or off the road. It’s also got new plugs, wires, radiator, a Holley fuel pump and a new hi-output alternator.

All New Interior Looks Awesome

The interior has been completely restored to make it look new. This includes new headliner, seats, door and side panels, and new carpet. Something from this era just has to be equipped with a B&M Quicksilver shifter for gear changing. The old idiot light-equipped dash was boring, so a custom dash with all new Auto Gage gauges was installed.

An Entertaining Ride

Entertainment features were also brought up to the 21st Century with a new Bluetooth-capable stereo (I caught him at work, so he wasn’t sure if this was a Sony or Kenwood). The head unit pushes front and rear external amps that power four Kenwood speakers and a sub, making for clean and crisp music that is also LOUD. In keeping with the period, there’s also a handheld 40-channel CB unit hidden under the dash along with a magnetic antenna on the trunk.

Safety Counts Too

The car sits approximately 36 inches off the deck, so something had to be done to make sure he wouldn’t back over any Beetles (or people); so, a rear-view/backup camera was installed. Just to be sure that people behind this beast know he’s getting ready to back up so they can flee, it’s also equipped with a bright LED lamp that also lights up the trail behind him at night.

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About Mike Aguilar 202 Articles
Mike's love of cars began in the early 1970's when his father started taking him to his Chevron service station. He's done pretty much everything in the automotive aftermarket from gas station island attendant, parts counter, mechanic, and new and used sales. Mike also has experience in the amateur ranks of many of racing's sanctioning bodies.
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