Classics Trove of Dodge Challengers Hidden in a Forest

19:53  28 july  2017
19:53  28 july  2017 Source:   HOT ROD

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Perfect example: On the way down I was driving past a Dodge dealership, and out front was a completely chromed new Dodge Challenger . But the deeper into the yard I got, the more it became clear to me that the yard was basically buried in the forest . I made my way over to the office

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I have been very fortunate to make friends in my travels. Whether it's from being on the road hunting down barn finds or doing other adventures like the Hot Rod Power Tour, I have made friends on these adventures that can be lifelong companions. A friend I met many years ago on the Power Tour, Brian, told me that if I was going to the start of the 2016 Tour in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I should really go out of my way to check out a yard on the Gulf of Mexico. That turned out to be fortunate advice. I had already made plans to visit the Wellborn Muscle Car Museum for a few days and then drive to the start of the Power Tour. The yard Brian told me about was on the way.

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This high-performance 1971 Dodge Challenger features a Chrysler Gen III Hemi motor, Compstar steel crank and rods, a custom COMP Cams hydraulic roller, Tremec TKO 500 transmission, and much more! Trove of Dodge Challengers Hidden in a Forest .

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Heading down was fun; it always is. I am constantly following up on different leads and stories I had heard. Some panned out well, and others did not. But it is always an adventure. As long as your gauge for adventure is pretty wide, you will always have fun.

Perfect example: On the way down I was driving past a Dodge dealership, and out front was a completely chromed new Dodge Challenger. Stem to stern it had a chrome wrap job on it. I had to take a picture, and doing so I ended up talking to the people at the dealership for an hour and getting a bunch of new leads in the area. You just never know!

When I came to the driveway of the yard that my friend Brian had said I should investigate, I actually drove past it twice because it just looked like a dirt driveway from the main road. But the deeper into the yard I got, the more it became clear to me that the yard was basically buried in the forest. I made my way over to the office, introduced myself to the owner, and explained what I do. He was intrigued, and we talked a while.

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Built entirely in a detached garage in the backyard of his home, Larry Van Zyl’s Hemi-powered 1971 Dodge Challenger has been 10 years in the making. Muscle Car Review Featured. Trove of Dodge Challengers Hidden in a Forest .

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He eventually said he had a few cars lying around, not quite the rows and rows of cars he used to have because as the price of Mopars went up, he sold them. The ones left were there for good reason, and I was welcome to go take a look if I wanted.

  Trove of Dodge Challengers Hidden in a Forest © Hot Rod Network Staff

Walking in the direction the owner told me to go, I got lost, but sometimes getting lost leads to good things. I stumbled upon a 1960 Plymouth Fury convertible sitting in the remains of a shed. One fender had been replaced with a 1960 Belvedere fender. But the biggest issue was the trees that had grown up in front of the car, blocking the way out. I would soon learn this was a common theme for the remaining cars.

After walking around a cow fence and the outskirts of a small pasture, I finally got to the cars the owner was talking about, and he was right. There was a good reason these cars were still out there. They were mostly rusted to the ground! The first car I came across was a 1970 Challenger in Plum Crazy. It still had remnants of the white bumblebee stripe on the rear. A closer look showed it was originally an R/T model. So sad, but thankfully, many parts were saved off the car and used on others. Its death was not in vain.

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Next to the purple Challenger was a yellow Challenger, from 1972 to 1974. I could not tell anymore, as most of it had been parted out or rusted away. Along the tree line between the forest and pasture was a black 1970 Challenger, and this one was the first real indication of why such cool cars had been stuck there so long. You'd have to be a lumberjack to get them out. Many of the cars, like this black one, had trees that were growing through them. To excavate one would take not only a truck and trailer, but serious tree cutting tools as well. In the warm climate of the Gulf, this was a common theme.

  Trove of Dodge Challengers Hidden in a Forest © Hot Rod Network Staff

There were about a dozen Challengers in different states in that corner of the yard. None were savable, in my opinion. Most had trees growing through the engine compartments, and some even through the cowls. The coolest one there was the hulk of a real 1970 or 1971 Challenger convertible. While it is sad that all these cars were sitting there, some little more than rusty shells, they were also mostly picked over. So we hope the missing parts went to better homes on different cars.

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On the other side of the property, there were a few more surprising vehicles to discover. A 1967 El Camino was a pretty interesting surprise, as was a large variety of early Dodge trucks. I even found the back half of a 1968 Charger. Coolest, though, was another pair of Challengers, 1970 and 1972 models. Both were enveloped by the trees. The purple 1970 Challenger had a tree as big around as a bowling ball growing right through the engine compartment. Nowhere else have I seen such sights.

While my time ran short (I still had to get to the start of the Power Tour), I had some time to talk with the owner. He told me of his nice 1971 Challenger convertible he was restoring. It was reaffirming that these cars did not die in vain. Their parts did move on and help others with their projects, which makes it all right in my opinion.

Editor's note: You can follow Ryan Brutt on a multitude of social media platforms: facebook.com/TheAutoArchaeologist, Instagram.com/theautoarcheologist, and youtube.com/user/AutoArchaeology. He says, "If you have any leads or know of anything cool, I don't share locations or owner names."

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Trove of Dodge Challengers Hidden in a Forest .
I have been very fortunate to make friends in my travels. Whether it's from being on the road hunting down barn finds or doing other adventures like the Hot Rod Power Tour, I have made friends on these adventures that can be lifelong companions. A friend I met many years ago on the Power Tour, Brian, told me that if I was going to the start of the 2016 Tour in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I should really go out of my way to check out a yard on the Gulf of Mexico. That turned out to be fortunate advice.

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