Before the Challenger came into the family, Ryan had plenty of Hot Wheels cars, trucks, and play centers that kept him busy during his childhood. He would line each one of the toy cars along the home baseboards to make his cities, streets, and garages. Even at a young age, he was fascinated by all the various cars and large rigs. He could name off each vehicle he saw, draw them from memory in his school notepads, and dream about building one of his own. From then on, it was safe to say he was born with the love of cars.
In 1989, his dad purchased a 1973 Dodge Challenger for $1,600. It was much different than what Ryan was familiar with since his family owned a 1981 Fiat Spider with about 130 HP. It was a neat sports car, but it was nothing like owning an American muscle car. Ryan’s dad bought the car when he was 9 years old. The Challenger had a 383-engine hooked up to a 727 transmission with 3.91 gear. It had no carpet or AC, just about 400 HP of an engine. At the time, Ryan was intimidated and scared of the car having substantial amount of power. However, he was always curious to learn more about this beast of a car
Picture taken in 1989 when Ryan’s dad started working on it
Ryan knew the car was fast but never knew what its capabilities were. His neighbor would ask his dad countless times to race him in his built 1966 Corvette until one day his dad gave in and said, “ok, let’s do it.” Ryan stood there listening to the engines roar down the street and it didn’t take long until his dad passed the Corvette. That is when the neighbor never begged to race again. From then on, Ryan fell more in love with his dad’s car.
Ryan’s dad let him drive the Challenger to and from high school for a short time until he wrecked it doing a stunt on his way home. Unfortunately, he was on his own to fix the damages done to the car. Most of the money he made from his job went towards repairing the suspension. From then, he drove it until the engine had enough. The original plan was to clean the engine bay, rebuild the original engine and transmission. One thing led to another, it was a start of a complete transformation.
Drivetrain & Exterior
Rebuilding the original motor and transmission was the start of this transformation and soon Ryan decided to paint the exterior with 2000 Boxer Porsche Silver. In 2005, he added 18×8 and 18×9.5 Esajian Wheels that were custom made to his specs with Lionhart 255/40/18 and 285/35/18 tires.
(Left) The start of removing the engine and transmission in 2001-2002 and (right) the Challenger painted in 2012.
Over the years, Ryan was having issues with the 383 and had decided to look into installing something more modern in the drivetrain. In 2016, he found a 2008 6.1 Hemi for sale. It was a must-have for this build. Owning an updated motor involves finding a transmission to accommodate it. He sourced a 545rfe from a 2005 Dodge Aspen that he began making room for since it is a taller 5-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, the car had been rewired, added new motor mounts, and modified the trans mounts to fit the modern transmission.
The original 383 engine
6.1 Hemi with the 545rfe transmission. Ryan had made room for the bigger transmission to set the in place with additional rewiring.
The transmission and motor were not the only things that were changed out on this restomod. Ryan then purchased a Tanks, Inc. EFI tank to take care of the fueling. Additionally, he has redone the front suspension with all Qu1 tubular subframe, upper and lower arm, Magnum Force 2” drop spindles, and PST torsion bars. It also has Doctor Diff 13″ rotors and 11.7” rear with 2004 Mustang Cobra calipers.
Not only does the outside have a fresh new look, but also the inside. Ryan had added Acura Integra front seats with AutoMeter Sport Comp gauges displayed in the stock dash, B&M shifter, restomod air, and a custom self-made console with a 2012 Challenger cup holder and armrest pad with Pioneer head unit. A local interior professional wrapped the door panels, seats, console, and made a custom one-piece suede headliner, carpet, and Forever Sharp steering wheel.
This 1973 Dodge Challenger has been in the family for over 33 years, with a total rebuild that once was Ryan’s childhood dream car. It has received a lot of attention since the family owned it. Today, it continues to be loved and enjoyed through each drive.