I always wanted two cars from the era of my youth, a 1969 Dodge Charger in Plum Crazy and a 1970 Dodge Challenger in white. Vanishing Point White. For a few years I researched the time, cost and effort to restore one of these rare and sought after cars. In 2008, Dodge came out with the modern version of the Challenger from my youth. Same shape, lines, hood and deck lid, just beefier, heavier and a more aggressive looking stance. A fantasy turned into a reality, and now a dilemma, restore or buy new. The research continued, until my friend Craig who experienced restoring a Mustang reminded me that the restored 1970 version only goes straight and will rattle the fillings in your teeth loose. He suggested to get the new one and “you won’t regret it.” Craig was right. Then in 2008, I got forced out of a job by a couple of truly horrible, horrible bosses, tried to take a year off of working, sent the oldest son off to college, and the stock market melts down. (All in that order). The market melted down changed my “permanent vacation” plans and a new job landed in my lap. I decided to wait for the 2010 model which would be for me, the 40th anniversary version of the 1970 Challenger.
It really is a story about delayed gratification, wanting what you have and capturing a few memories of my youth. No regrets on dropping $32K on a brand new car. Restoring the classic version would have cost $65K and 3 years of shop time, so I’m ahead.
**I originally wrote the story below in the ChallengerLife.com blog and decided to publish it again for your entertainment.
I really wanted to build my own Challenger and not interested in anything off the lot.
I tried to order a Stone White R/T on January 30th 2010 after picking a dealer to negotiate with. (That’s another story unto itself). Stone White does not show up in the computer, unavailable. They tell me Dodge is no longer building a Challenger in White. Really? You expect me to believe that #%#%@. The dealer then tries to selling something off the lot. My mind was set on a White Challenger and I started my quest to find the truth. Chrysler customer service was very nice, responsive yet uninformed about why Stone White is no longer available. For the month of February 2010, I searched the web looking for an answer. Dealers across the Midwest had no idea why SW was not available…”but silver is close.” The whole ordering process was frustrating. I read something about Bright White and starting pursuing that lead.
I actually sent an email to Ralph Gilles the CEO of Chrysler, explaining my frustration trying to order a Stone White R/T. The dealers had no clue and neither did customer service. Mr. Gilles sends my email to Mark Mallie the Challenger brand manager at the time. That same afternoon, Mark calls me and tells me the whole story about why they are replacing SW and the switch to BW and the time required to make changes to the production line. Ordering was to begin March 1. He then suggested I work with Bob Frederick and he will take good care of me. I called Bob that same night, and he tells me he already talked with Mark about my story. We had some back and forth negotiations, but it was easy. Bob gave me the best price over the phone and will deliver to my house, from Pittsburgh. I never had to step into a dealership to place the order. This is how car building ought to be. On March 9, 2010, the sale was complete over the phone and email.
Bright White production is supposed to start-up the week of May 24. I sure hope they don’t work on my car the Tuesday after Memorial Day, was my first thought.
I’m supposed to get the first BW off the line, and still unable to confirm to this day.
I figure we should have the car by the 4th of July. It will be a bit agonizing, but once we see the car in the driveway, I’ll forget about the wait.
Looks like at the moment White seems to be the rarest of color from my seat.
I called Bob and mentioned that the weekend of June 12 is the only weekend that I could come and pick it up by him, otherwise, I’d take home delivery. I might have had to wait another week or so. He pulled some strings and got it on the truck for a Friday delivery.
Bob left me an email on Friday morning (June 11) and asked me to book my plane ticket to Pittsburgh. By noon I cashed in some frequent flier miles for the first flight on Saturday (June 12). Bob picked me up at the airport and by 10:00am EST, I saw the car for the first time. I was floored as it was lined up in a stunning staging area. I was spinning with delight, sheer satisfaction, and euphoria. I did my inspection, paperwork, and adhered the badging with Bob’s help. Then went over the controls, features etc. By 12:15, I was following Bob out to I-80 for the 450 mile trip home.
The drive from the Pittsburgh area took over 8 hours with breaks and working the throttle and tach to ensure a good break-in. I used the satellite radio as a tool to remind me when to change the speed. I changed the speed and tach after a couple of songs…. for the whole trip. Dropping into 4th was helpful to change the tach without changing speeds a few times. I felt pretty stupid a few times driving 50 mph to reach the low-end of the tach.
Halfway through the trip, a guy in a 2009 Black Mustang pulls up alongside as I was going around 60 (the limit was 70). He looks over, and lifts his chin, and floors it. Easy to resist a challenge when one is performing a proper break-in on a new motor.
Uneventful trip as I-80 through Ohio is pretty straight and bland.
Not too much gawking going on. It seems white does not grab the attention like Plum Crazy. I did a get few nods. During my very first fill up someone came over to ask a question about the car. Turns out it’s Bob Frederick’s cousin! Small world.
The long 6 month wait to order and build this car is forgotten now that I am sitting in the driver seat. Wanting transitioned quickly to having and enjoying the benefits of planning and executing.
The car is a fantastic highway cruiser and exceeded my expectations. Hard to believe it comes from an American car company, though the engineering has some Mercedes designs. Dodge really needs to get off their duffs and onto the soap box. They have a winner, and only a few know about it.
Today, June 2017.
I still have her and recently crossed over 25,000 miles. Dodge continues to expand the Challenger segment and the modern version is still selling after ten years, twice as long as the predecessor. All in all, very happy with the car and enjoy having a fun car that I appreciate and a reminder to want what I have. Having the car of my youth in the garage brings a sense of balance to my world. I also have an appreciation for a saying that I continue to grow into which I heard years ago: There are car people and there are not.
Now, about that 1969 Dodge Charger…