Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Vanishing Point’s Legendary Car: The 1970 Dodge Challenger

‘Vanishing Point’s Legendary Car: The 1970 Dodge Challenger

The 1970 Dodge Challenger from the cult grindhouse film Vanishing Point stands out as an iconic car for automotive enthusiasts everywhere. The 1971 film is essentially one long chase scene.

The movie follows a man attempting to transport a car from Colorado to California while under the influence of uppers and evading law enforcement across four states. It is renowned for introducing the Dodge Challenger R/T into the realm of high-speed pursuits.

In a riveting classic car chase, the protagonist’s beefy Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum goes head-to-head with a sleek Jaguar E-Type. They zip along a twisty, dusty road, racing towards a narrow metal bridge where only one can claim victory.

The 1970 model featured an appealing exterior design, highlighted by a recessed grill behind dual headlights. The R/T variant sported a hood with a power bulge and hood pins, creating the illusion of a larger engine. Sharing a unibody platform with the Plymouth Barracuda, the Challenger had a slightly longer wheelbase, providing generous rear seating space. Inside the R/T, two bucket front seats were complemented by a rally cluster on the instrument panel.

The movie car showcased an impressive engine under the hood – a high-performance 440 cci Magnum with a four bbl and a four-speed manual transmission equipped with a pistol-grip shifter.

Where is the Screen Used ‘Vanishing Point’ Car Now?

During the filming of Vanishing Point, five cream-white cars were employed. Four of the models were 440 R/Ts, while one was a 383 R/T. Rumors suggest that not all of the vehicles were originally white. At least one had a green hue initially. In a particular movie scene, Kowalski experienced a flat tire, revealing traces of green paint in certain shots.

Regrettably, the iconic Dodge Challenger R/Ts featured in Vanishing Point did not endure to share their story. All five vehicles were auctioned off for salvage in 1971, just before meeting their demise. Subsequently, they vanished without a trace, leaving numerous fans disheartened. Many enthusiasts would have eagerly paid a substantial sum to own one of these cherished cars.

However, when remaking Vanishing Point in 1997, producers learned from past mistakes and chose to preserve all five Dodge Challenger R/T units used in the second movie. Ted Stephens, the owner of Stephen’s Performance Garage in Alabama, approached the remake’s producers and purchased all five units, which he still possesses today.

According to Hot Cars, Ted meticulously restored the primary “hero car” used in the film production, while leaving the rest untouched in their original post-filming state. This untouched quality enhances the desirability of these units even further.

The 1970 Challenger R/T had several variations. However, the standout model in the 1997 Vanishing Point remake was the 426 Hemi with a 4-speed manual transmission. This powerful muscle car boasted a 6.9-liter V8 Hemi engine that delivered 425 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque. Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.7 seconds and completing the quarter-mile in an impressive 13.3 seconds, it showcased remarkable speed and performance.

While the originals may be gone with the wind, at least the 5 remake units are in safe hands.