Glenn Bunch used to enjoy race cars. He still does. Back in 1971, he would field a Saab Sonet in SCCA and IMSA races, then he would switch to a Jaguar XKE, with some mixed results. He would race this type of car three years or so, then he would have a break in his racing career. By the end of 1976 however, he was ready to tackle a new project, which was much more ambitious. Looking for a car which would be able to run for the overall, he would wade through your race car catalog, searching for the killer racer. He needed a car that would give him some kind of unfair advantage. After devising for a while, he set his choice upon an engine that impressed him very much, the 426 Hemi, with was extremely powerful. The car that was best fitted to host this engine was the Dodge Challenger. The large body seemed to be perfect for such an engine, and it should run fine, at least he and friend Powell Hughes thought so. It would take a long time to build the chassis and suspension. The very first chassis was built and remained close to the original Dodge Challenger shape, at least visually. A lot of time was taken to build up the suspension and chassis. The car seemed to handle well but was not as fast as Glenn hoped, for he had not taken into account a very critical aspect in auto racing : weight. He would admit it afterwards. The car was entered at Road Atlanta 1978 for the Spring IMSA race, and it would stir some controversy amongst the race officials. The car, which was built under the AAGT rules, was liberally turned out and you could hear something like : What is that? or Where did you get that body? How about the engine? from the tech inspectors. Glenn Bunch and Powell Hughes would reply they built it while using the rule book. They claimed that such a new car could add something new to the series, but they had to convince the IMSA officials in the first place, which was not an easy task.
Glenn Bunch Dodge Challenger as entered at Road Atlanta spring 1978.
Copyright Clark Nicholls
The car was considered illegal due to the fender bulges continuing into the hood. Glenn would have to rework this and make new molds. The car would be entered in the Atlanta Fall race, as well as the Daytona Finale. A second chassis would be built, which was to be much more radical, and also much lighter! With the help of Emmanuel Zervakis, aka the flying greek, he would get a brand new rigid chassis, well fitted under the Challenger sheet metal. He would then use fiberglass doors, and angle aluminum to form the edges of the fenders. The rear fenders were inspired by the AAGT Corvettes, so they were flared upwards, to improve down force. The grill opening was ducted for the brakes, with a small opening for the oil cooler. The new car weighed around 2750 lbs, which was a clear 1000 pounds lighter than the first chassis. The car did undergo a tremendous facelift.
At Brainerd, for the very first race for that car, Glenn used a small 405ci engine, which was down on power. He finished 21st. The Daytona Paul Revere race would be probably the best ever one for that car, with Glenn being able to run in the top 5 position for most of the race. Unfortunately, the lights went out and Glenn had to pit for lights repairs, which cost him three laps. He ended up 9th overall, however. It was the race where he was able to follow fast Phil Currin in his black AAGT Chevrolet Corvette, and he and Glenn would become friends shortly after that. Phil Currin would compliment him for being able to run with him during the race. Later in the season, a 528ci aluminum block was used, giving some 800hp. At Mid Ohio, the car was a dnf, however. The next race was the Lumbermen's 500 race, held at Mid Ohio too. Glenn would have a co-driver, who was no less than Phil Currin himself. Very impressed to be racing with a pro, Glenn surely could learn a lot from his input. The race was to finish under the rain, and Phil Currin and him ended up 5th overall, which was a great result, for a car which still ran the Daytona setup.
The last race for the Dodge Challenger was at Road Atlanta, with the same engine setup too. The car would lose a long time, with a carburetor fitting spreading gasoline on the track. The last race was a really disappointing one. He was still not aware of the fact that it would be the last professional race for this car. The season was over and Glenn wanted to develop the car much more, in order to make it even lighter and faster. While thinking about the future of this car, Glenn was wondering if his new car would be legal for at least three or four seasons. He would request an answer from IMSA, but never got any reply. To worsen things, Chrysler could no longer help him so Glenn decided to take a time out. The project would be put aside. The IMSA career for that fantastic car was over. It looked like the unlimited potential of this car was not to be reached. It could have been developed as a real killer car. Unfortunately, Glenn Bunch, who was a real private entrant, did not get enough support from his counterparts. Even getting some help from people like Larry Rathgeb, for the chassis design, Dave Koffel, Dave Lewis, Junie Dunlovie and Henry Lauterback who were really helpful people, it was simply not enough to get this huge car as competitive as it should have become. Chrysler involvement would have been the right solution to getting competitive, but they were running out of money. Glenn Bunch suddenly would have to drop his racing career. More than three years of sweat, money and hard work had been spent in the car development. A big disapointment in the end, for sure!It would be stored in a garage for nearly thirty years, before being ready to race again in 2005. The car, driven by Phil Currin, has been completely rebuilt and has become a real Porsche killer. A torque monster, as Glenn Bunch would put it. You did a great job, Glenn!