• 2018

From Race To Restore

As a teen, Dave Smith of Akron, Ohio, fell hard for 1962–1971 era Mopar® vehicles. It was a love affair meant to go the distance. And it has. In his retirement, Dave is now a restorer/collector of some of the models he envied most as a teen.

Among the 10 Mopar vehicles Smith has owned, there have been a lot of storied pasts in and out of his garage. But none quite as fascinating as his 1967 Belvedere GTX.

While working on his fi rst restoration, a 1967 Dodge Charger, Dave learned his friend owned a one-of-45 1967 Belvedere GTX with a HEMI® engine and a 4-speed transmission. His friend had acquired the car through the legendary area drag racer “Akron” Arlen Vanke and had been collecting O.E. parts to restore the car for 30+ years. Still, the GTX sat idle, dry, protected and untouched for 35 years.

Smith, who understands the importance of using O.E. parts, saw the GTX and the stash of O.E. parts ready to go on the car and didn’t think twice about putting together an offer to add the GTX to his collection. That deal was a trade: Dave’s brand-new 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT® Hellcat for his friend’s unrestored GTX.

With “meticulous” as the theme of the restoration, Smith completely disassembled and restored the car in 2017. The car was completed in early 2018 and is now gaining acclaim as a benchmark restoration.

Clearly, car show judges agree. Already in 2018, the car had been awarded Best Restored in Class (1958-1967) and Best Restored in Show (ISCA/Cleveland Piston Powered Classic).


1964 Dodge 440 – Original “Steel-Nose” Race HEMI® engine. One of 35 built, one of two known to exist
1964 Dodge 440 – 572 HEMI engine / 740 HP Resto Mod. A tribute to the car owned in high school; driven to 50th class reunion
1964 Plymouth Savoy – 426 HEMI engine Super Stock AA/SA
1965 Plymouth Belvedere 1 – 426 HEMI engine Super Stock BN/SS. One of the last cars owned and raced by Arlen Vanke
1967 Dodge Charger – Original 440/375 HP
1967 ½ Plymouth M-Code A12 – Original 440/6 pack, 4-speed
1971 Plymouth ’Cuda – Original BS23, 383/350 HP, 4-speed
1994 Dodge Viper – Gen I, V-10
2000 Plymouth Prowler
2017 Dodge Challenger SRT® Hellcat

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