Vanishing Point Car: Kowalskis’ 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T


Welcome to the definitive guide to the iconic Vanishing Point automobile.

Within this extensive piece, I will delve into every aspect, statistic, and intricate detail regarding both the 1971 cinematic release and the 1997 made-for-television adaptation. This includes:

  • The precise year, manufacturer, model, engine specifications, and transmission details.
  • The total count of vehicles employed throughout the production process.
  • The number of vehicles that endured beyond each respective film.
  • And an array of additional intriguing information!

Now, let us closely examine the remarkable Vanishing Point car, shall we?

The Enigmatic Vanishing Point Vehicle

Before delving into the intricate details of Kowalski’s renowned Dodge muscle car featured in the 1971 film and 1997 television series, let us provide a brief recap of the iconic automobile for those who have yet to witness its glory.

Vanishing Point Overview (1971 Film)

Vanishing Point, a gripping action film directed by Richard Sarafian and starring Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, and Dean Jagger, originally premiered in the United States on March 13, 1971.

This cult classic unfolds the tale of Kowalski, who makes a daring wager with his drug dealer. The challenge is to transport a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T from Denver, Colorado, to San Francisco, California, within a mere 15 hours.

Embarking on a 1,200-mile road trip, Kowalski relies on amphetamines to combat fatigue. Through a series of captivating flashbacks, we uncover his past as a Vietnam veteran, former race car driver, and ex-police officer.

When two motorcycle policemen attempt to apprehend him for speeding, Kowalski ingeniously evades capture. He forcefully drives one officer off the road and skillfully escapes the clutches of the second officer by leaping over the aptly named “no-name creek,” triggering an intense 1,034-mile pursuit by law enforcement.

A blind radio disc jockey, known as “Super Soul,” tunes into police scanners and uses his program to encourage Kowalski, amassing support from fascinated news media and dedicated listeners.

Suspecting that the police are manipulating Super Soul to aid in his capture, Kowalski realizes he is walking into a meticulously laid trap.

Nevertheless, with the aid of a biker named Angel, who creates a diversion using a siren, a small motorcycle, and a red headlight affixed to the roof, Kowalski manages to outsmart his pursuers at the California border.

With only 166 miles remaining until he reaches San Francisco, Kowalski finds himself in Cisco, CA, where California police have finally caught up with him, establishing an impassable roadblock.

Undeterred, Kowalski accelerates toward the barricade with a determined smile, colliding head-on with the bulldozer blades at breakneck speed. In a blazing inferno, the Vanishing Point car meets its explosive demise.

Both the movie and television adaptation share striking similarities, albeit with a few noteworthy distinctions.

Which Car Was Featured in Vanishing Point?

The automobile that took center stage in both the 1971 and 1997 renditions of Vanishing Point was none other than a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T hardtop, resplendent in Alpine White with a sleek black vinyl interior.

Specifications of the Vanishing Point Car (1971 Movie)

  • Model: 1970 Dodge Charger R/T
  • Engine: 440 CID V8 “U” code
  • Horsepower: 375HP
  • Torque: 480 ft-lbs
  • Carburetor: 4-barrel
  • Transmission: 4-Speed manual “A-833”
  • Differential: 4.10:1 Sure-Grip
  • Shifter: Pistol grip
  • Exterior Color: Alpine White
  • Interior: Black vinyl
  • Seats: Bucket seats
  • Suspension: Heavy-duty shocks
  • Wheels: Rallye wheels

Specifications of the Vanishing Point Challenger (1997 TV Show)

  • Model: 1970 Dodge Charger R/T
  • Engine: 426 CID V8 “R” code
  • Horsepower: 425HP
  • Torque: 490 ft-lbs
  • Carburetors: Dual 4-barrel
  • Transmission: 4-Speed manual “A-833”
  • Shifter: Pistol grip
  • Exterior Color: Alpine White
  • Interior: Black bucket seats
  • Wheels: Rallye wheels

What engine did the Vanishing Point car have?

The formidable Vanishing Point car, featured in the 1971 film, was equipped with a commanding 440 CID V8 engine, coupled with a 4-speed manual transmission. Conversely, in the 1997 television movie, the ’70 Challenger R/T roared to life with a potent 426 Hemi V8 engine, also mated to a 4-speed manual transmission.

How many cars were used in Vanishing Point?

The exact number of 1970 Challenger R/Ts employed in the production of Vanishing Point remains a subject of contention. Different sources offer varying accounts, with claims ranging from four to eight vehicles.

According to Richard Sarafian, the film’s director, who shared his insights on the 2005 DVD release, a total of eight ’70 Dodge Challenger R/Ts were utilized during filming.

However, in a Musclecar Review article from March 1986, both the movie’s lead actor, Barry Newman, and stunt driver, Carey Loftin, concurred that only five Challenger R/Ts were involved in the production. These five vehicles were loaned to Cupid Productions by Chrysler for promotional purposes. Among them, four were equipped with a 440 CID V8 engine and a 4-speed manual transmission, while the remaining car featured a 383 CID V8 engine paired with an automatic transmission.

In the television remake of Vanishing Point (1997), a total of five 1970 Dodge Challenger R/Ts were utilized throughout the production.

How many Vanishing Point cars survived?

The fate of the Vanishing Point cars from the 1971 production remains shrouded in controversy. While some sources suggest that all the vehicles were scrapped, persistent rumors circulate about the survival of one car.

According to Carey Loftin, the stunt driver involved in the film, all five cars were returned to Chrysler once filming concluded. However, what Chrysler ultimately did with them remains a topic of speculation.

It is widely believed that all the cars were indeed scrapped. Without proper documentation from either Chrysler or Cupid Productions, confirming the survival of any vehicle would be exceedingly challenging, if not impossible.

In stark contrast, the 1997 television remake offers a more optimistic outcome. All five of the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/Ts utilized in the production managed to survive. Interestingly, a single buyer acquired all five vehicles from the production company.

While one car underwent a complete restoration, the remaining four were intentionally preserved in their original condition, honoring their iconic historical significance.

Vanishing Point Challenger Trivia (1971)

Let’s explore some intriguing trivia about the Vanishing Point Challenger featured in the 1971 film:

  1. Contrary to rumors, the 1970 Challenger R/T in the film was not powered by a 426 Hemi or a Six-Pack 440. Instead, it had a 440 CID V8 engine with a single four-barrel carburetor.
  2. All five ’70 Dodge Challengers used in the movie were on loan to Cupid Productions from Chrysler.
  3. The choice of Alpine White as the color for the Vanishing Point Challenger was deliberate. It was selected to ensure that the car would stand out prominently against the backdrop during filming.
  4. In one shot, the film briefly depicts the ’70 Challenger R/T as a right-hand drive vehicle, adding an intriguing visual twist.
  5. The only significant modification made to the Vanishing Point vehicle was the inclusion of heavy-duty shocks on the car used for jumps.
  6. Kowalski’s Vanishing Point Challenger bore a Colorado license plate reading “OA-5599.”
  7. For the climactic scene, an engineless and dilapidated 1967 Chevrolet Camaro was rigged with explosives and used to collide with the bulldozer.
  8. The 1967 Camaro was propelled into the bulldozer’s blades by the ’70 Challenger R/T equipped with a 383 CID V8 engine in the original film.
  9. The “number five car” with the 383 engine and automatic transmission served as the camera car for straight runs.
  10. Max Balchowsky, who previously worked as the lead mechanic on the Challengers used in the Bullitt movie starring Steve McQueen, also played a crucial role in maintaining and repairing the Vanishing Point Challengers during filming.
  11. Although the Vanishing Point car is depicted as supercharged in the film’s narrative, it was not equipped with a supercharger in reality.

Vanishing Point Trailer (1971 Movie)

Vanishing Point Trailer (1997 TV Show)


Well, there are some of the most interesting facts on the 1970 Vanishing Point Challenger we could find.






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