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1970 Dodge Challenger Special by Frua

“Signore” Pietro Frua was already a big shot at the legendary Pininfarina design firm. Later, he walked out of the company to do his own thing and created some of the most memorable, most amazing, and most desirable one-off cars ever made. These were, of course, not cheap; in the early ’70s, a Frua special was in the $100,000+ range ($730,000 in 2020).

So let’s say you’re an important, loaded fellow, and you need a new ride. Something unique because mass production is for poor people. Something Italian but with some muscle? You call Mr. Frua, and incredible automotive magic happens. Dr. Alfred Shäfer, director of the Schweizer Bankgesellschaft (Swiss banks union), did just this in 1970. Shäfer was friends with Walter Haefner, Swiss entrepreneur (today one of the oldest billionaires in the world), founder of AMAG (Automobil Motoren-AG), and Chrysler importer in the Confoederatio Helvetica; together, they came up with the idea of turning a regular Dodge Challenger into something extraordinary, and Frua made it happen. The R/T SE 383 Challenger was given a sleek Italian body and an assortment of parts from European cars to be reborn as the timeless masterpiece it became, a Mopar in a tuxedo.

Without a doubt one of the most beautiful cars ever made, the Frua Challenger has (thankfully) made it to the present in great condition; the car was almost left unfinished because it nearly “killed” its creators, Shäfer and Haefner; the two were returning from a meeting with Frua in Turin when their plane experienced problems and was forced to make an emergency belly landing. The Challenger exchanged hands in 1977, ending up with Nicolas Leutwiler Zumikon, another Swiss national. Despite being only seven years old, Zumikon ordered a full car restoration; he also had the interiors replaced (white cream leather), the radiator grill chromed (black), the bumper overriders removed, and the wheels changed for wire ones.



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