When Lance Pelky wants something, he gets it. The 51-year-old San Diegan recently recounted how he came across one of the nicest driveable ’70 Challengers on the planet. The story began when he was browsing the eBay want ads longingly, enamored with the beautiful Mopars that glistened in their widescreen glow. Most had problems, glaring flaws, or were just downright ugly. But one Panther Pink Challenger captured his attention. Must. Have. Car.
This is a true Challenger...
This is a true Challenger R/T car. The R/T badge, for Road/Track, indicated a package that included upgraded suspension, brakes, tires, and more power. So what would you call a package like this that has even more of those?
“I couldn’t believe the parts that were in it, and what it was all about and the pictures. So I started bidding on it.” Like anyone who’s been in an auction, Lance ended up in a bidding war. He thought the late Dodge Brothers were smiling down upon him as he won the auction, only to find out shortly thereafter that the lying car salesman, let’s call him Cheeseball, posting the ad sold it out from under him. Ugh.
Having honed his skills in the financial instrument field, aka retirement and asset management, Lance was no stranger to doing research and getting to the center of the issue. He found the other bidder he was battling with, and it turned out that was the person Cheeseball sold the car to. The new owner was actually quite a nice guy and an avid collector. He offered to let Lance come out and drive the car, and in an act of Internet karma, let him buy it for what he had into it. Car. Is. Mine.
What Lance stepped into was not a simple Krylon resto. It had been meticulously built over a 17-year period by car nut Mark Yates of Gilroy. In fact, the car was nice enough to have won Mopars At The Strip in 2003 and 2004, using its vibrant pink hue to drive the Challenger craze of the decade.
During the original buildup, attention was paid to make sure the car could be driven just as good as it showed, and so a subframe was fabricated joining and strengthening the unibody structure. Bilstein shocks cushioned the blow with the front torsion bar dropped down and the rearend lowered to make cornering as effective as its stance would imply. Massive Wilwood brakes are big enough for a road racer, but considering what left the factory some 40 years ago, they were a worthy upgrade.
As the car was completed by Yates in 2002, it seemed fitting that the ride wear a set of Boyd Coddington Blasters. Not dated like some of the early billet stuff, the Pentastar looks perfect wearing the pentaspoke Blasters.
Just as comfortable as his La Jolla office chair, Procar front seats and a re-covered factory rear seat make Lance’s car the place to be when rolling on the El Cajon Classic Cruise, La Mesa Car Cruise, or any of the rides he takes his family on.
Not long after buying the dream, Lance realized there were a few driveability issues that crept up, so he burned rubber across town to see J. Bittle of JBA Racing. JBA opened up shop in 1985, building, modifying, and maintaining race and high-performance street cars and has cemented a reputation as a cutting-edge facility. They famously created the first smog-legal shorty header back in the late ’80s when the Golden State started their ruthless crackdown on the high-performance industry.
Without an inch to spare,...
Without an inch to spare, the massive fuel-injected 464-inch stroker squeezes into the engine bay. During the FAST XFI retrofit, JBA seamlessly integrated the A/C, water plumbing, and wiring to match the original configuration.
First on Bittle’s list of modifications was the removal of the engine and its old fuel injection system. Lance told PHR: “The fuel injection was some kind of Gen 6 DOS kind of thing. You could hardly get a computer that would run it. So we decided to redo the motor and put the new FAST fuel injection system in it.” Though high tech for its day, Gen 6 has gone the way of the buggy whip. The tune in it was poor enough that it actually fuel-washed the cylinder walls, leading to a rebuild of the engine. Bittle says, “The FAST system would not work with a standard MSD Billet distributor, so we converted to an MSD crank trigger and modified the distributor, like a late-model, to be a cam sensor, which has the added benefit of converting from bank-to-bank to sequential. Sequential firing gives the FAST system improved real-time tuning, and the immediate response to any change makes testdriving and optimizing the tuning easier.” The XFI system was also programmed so that when the icy cold air conditioning kicks in, the idle speed is adjusted to compensate. How cool is that?
JBA took the time to install an Indy Cylinder Heads stroker kit, bumping up the displacement to a tire-burning 464 ci via an offset-ground 440 crank spinning Wiseco pistons and Mahle rings.
Bittle also installed a hydraulic flat-tappet cam with just enough lift and duration to make it mean and nasty, but keep it reliable and driveable. This also axed the common single-bolt in favor of the safer three-bolt double- roller timing chain and gears. A set of Indy first-design Wedge heads, made for hot street and racing engines, was bolted on top and fitted to a single-plane intake manifold.
With the engine on track, they set about upgrading the clutch to handle the extra power. The Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch remains, but transfers power to something much nicer than the old A-833 four-speed. A Richmond six-speed ROD was originally shoehorned in by Yates to make cruising down the highway with 3.23 rear gears not such an ear-ringing, gas-guzzling chore. “When Mark put it in, he modified the tunnel a little, but it works fine. The Richmond is a great transmission, not over-the-top heavy duty, but a great transmission.” And, of course, the package wouldn’t have been complete had he not modified a true Pistol Grip shifter to row the gears. While under the car, JBA cleaned up the undercarriage with a pair of Spintech mufflers to quiet things down and revamped the whole fuel system to handle the 413 rear-wheel horsepower.
Since the additional power naturally produced more heat, an upgrade to the cooling system for cruising the heat of El Cajon in the summer was deemed necessary. Lance says, “The radiator was about eight years old, so we just redid the whole cooling system. It’s got two primary fans and two secondaries.” Finally the old E-Body was as reliable as a new Challenger.
As for the body, it has held up extremely well considering the 30,000-plus miles on the car. “The paint was done back in 2000-2001 and they did a stunning job. It’s held up really well. It just has a ton of clearcoat on it.” Rocky Frost of Custom Autobody freshened the FM3 Panther Pink up here and there, but was otherwise perfect.
The rear stripe and hood decals...
The rear stripe and hood decals typical of the early E-Bodies were replaced with smooth black paint and covered in miles of clearcoat. The late Boyd Coddington would be proud to see his wheel designs survive and remain current even as trends and car flavors vary from year to year.
From the luxury of a cushy...
From the luxury of a cushy seat, Lance Pelky grabs the Magnum-like pistol grip, rips through the gears eyeing the factory in-dash tach, and puts the Sure-Grip rear end to the test. Unlike a Dirty Harry movie though, the only casualties are a pair of Goodyear meats.
Flip out gas caps were always...
Flip out gas caps were always part of the cool factor of muscle-era Mopars. This was recently replicated in the new Challengers, though for emissions reasons it was merely covering a fuel cap underneath. Still, the cool-o-meter is about pegged.
Since originally buying the car in 2006 and the subsequent JBA treatment, Lance and his family have been driving the snot out the car every chance they get, which in the pleasant weather of Southern California, means every weekend. “The neat thing about it is it just puts a smile on people’s face. People just love it. The women love the color, and guys respect it because of the massive horsepower. I’ve had friends with Ferraris and Lamborghinis, and they say they get flipped off when they drive their cars. They’re great cars, but people sometimes don’t take a liking to them. But the pink car just has its own personality.” In fact, Lance likes the pink car so much he has decided to share it with the world via a website, www.ThePinkCar.com. “It’s a real crowd pleaser, and you can’t leave it by itself. They kind of nicknamed it Pamela Anderson, because it really does stick out and put a smile on people’s faces.” With a nickname like that, this Pistol Grip in Pink is nothing short of a head-turning, jaw-dropping, smile-making fun machine.
“People just love it. The women love the color, and guys respect it because of the massive horsepower.” —Lance Pelky, owner
By The Numbers
1970 Challenger R/T
Lance A. Pelky, 51 • San Diego, CA
Type: big-block Mopar B-block
Compression ratio: 10.9:1
Oiling: Milodon pan with windage tray
Rotating assembly: Indy stroker kit
Cylinder heads: Indy Cylinder Heads wedge
Camshaft: hydraulic flat-tappet, 232/234 at .050
Valvetrain: 2.200-/1.850-inch valves, dual springs
Induction: single-plane, modified for EFI
Throttle body: FAST 4v, 4150-style
Ignition: MSD 6AL controlled by FAST
Engine management: FAST XFI fuel injection
Exhaust: TTI headers, 2-inch primaries, Spintech Mufflers
Cooling: Be Cool radiator dual fans
Output: 413 rear-wheel horsepower at 5,000 rpm, 473 rear-wheel torque at 4,100 rpm
Transmission: Richmond ROD six-speed with Pistol Grip shifter; Centerforce Dual Friction clutch
Rear axle: 8¾-inch rearend, Sure-Grip differential, 3.23 gears
Unibody: custom subframe connectors welded in place
Front suspension: stock, Bilstein shocks, torsion bars in lowered position
Rear suspension: stock, Bilstein shocks, lowered
Brakes: Wilwood 12-inch front/11-inch rear disc brakes
Wheels: Boyd Coddington Blasters; 17x8 front, 17x9.5 rear
Tires: Goodyear Eagle GT 245/45R17, front; 285/40R17, rear