The name Lee Cameron may not roll off your tongue as easily as, let’s say, Dick Landy, but Lee made a name for himself racing a 1970 HEMI Challenger R/T, making it to the NHRA World Finals in Dallas in late 1970. After Lee retired the Challenger, Landy bought it and, in 1975, a gentleman in Hawaii had Landy build him the car. And after being raced some more and languishing in Hawaii’s salty air, the battered remains of this HEMI Challenger on eBay is waiting for someone like you to bring it up to its former glory.
However, this was not your basic 383 R/T but a true R-code HEMI car – what ended up being one of 287 US-spec cars (according to Mopar guru Galen Govier, another 19 went to Canada plus a handful more may have gone overseas).
Covered in “B5” Bright Blue paint with stripe-delete, Pistol Grip four-speed with Track Pak, Rallye instrument cluster, and not much else – not even a radio.
Raced as the “PDQ Challenger” (Pretty Damn Quick) sponsored by Swift Dodge out of Sacramento, Lee and Jim made it to the NHRA finals, upon which its history is somewhat fuzzy.
At some point, Dick Landy Industries (DLI) bought the Dodge and built it as a 10-second bomber for Clarence Nishikata, a Hawaiian racer, bringing the Chally up to 1971 specs by updating the grille and taillights, making it identical to Landy’s ’71 he was currently campaigning. Through the mid-1980s, it was Clarence’s trusty strip warrior, but then it was put into storage.
Modifications to this rare piece of Mopar history include the addition of tubular sub-frame connectors, a conversion to a B&M Quick Stick floor shifter, a six-point cage, hard-plastic molded seats, Super Stock 5- and 6-pack leaf springs, and a motor plate.
In fact, inside of the engine compartment lies the remains of the DLI-built HEMI plant. The domed slugs frozen in place. The heads and valvetrain – along with a Weiand dual-carb tunnel ram sat on a shelf in the garage.
Approximately six years ago, the HEMI Challenger was removed from its hibernation and given a new home with the dream of having it restored back to stock but, like many big projects, that never happened. However, with some sleuthing from some clever and knowledgable Mopar fans, it went to a new owner in the continental United States, who is now offering it to you.
Any ordinary car that’s been raced and looks like this is usually junked, but this is an honest-to-goodness HEMI car with pedigree from Dick Landy. Would you restore it back to stock or to “Day 2” as-raced condition? There ain’t many HEMI Challenger R/Ts around – certainly less than HEMI ‘Cudas – but the opportunity for yours to be different from the rest (in full, authentic race regalia, no less) makes this Challenger an interesting proposition for the brave.