The late 1960s and early 1970s was a memorable time for Dodge. The brand had already launched nameplates such as the Charger, Coronet, and the Dart in the 1960s, while the Challenger followed in 1970 as a competitor to the already successful Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. Available with a wide range of inline-six and V-8 engines, the Challenger quickly became one of the most important muscle cars of the early 1970s, but none was as celebrated as the Hemi-equipped coupes.

Powered by the almighty 426-cubic-inch V-8, also dubbed "The Elephant," the Challenger Hemi packed no fewer than 425 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque, an impressive benchmark for the era. With less than 200 models built that year (only 137 had the four-speed manual), the 1970 Challenger Hemi went on to become a rare and sought-after car. Many of them have survived on U.S. soil, but there’s one coupe that lived most of its life in Venezuela.

Meet the "El Hemi," probably the only Hemi-powered Challenger that got shipped to Venezuela in the 1970s and spent more than two decades in South America. Currently driven by Juan Escalante and his brother, the Hemi was purchased in the early 1970s by his father. After spending many years into disrepair, the car was brought to the U.S. for restoration in 1996, a process which was completed nearly ten years later, in 2005. Although Juan’s father passed away before the car was finished, the Challenger remained in the Escalante family as "a way of connecting those who have come before us to those who will be coming in the future."

Not just a powerful muscle car, this Hemi also has an interesting story behind it. Find out more by watching Petrolicious’ latest video.


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