Fastest Find Ever! 1968 Challenger 2 Streamliner

Challenger 2 may well be the fastest car we have ever featured here at Barn Finds! Thanks to reader Patrick S. for sending in the auction listing for this record breaker where it’s being sold at Mecum’s January Kissimmee, Florida auction. Not only is this streamliner an incredibly fast vehicle (448.757 miles per hour!) but it has what might be the most tortured route ever to becoming a land speed record holder, with the car and Thompson taking the crown in 2018, a full 50 years after the car was first created!

Challenger 2 was born several years after Mickey Thompson’s (Danny’s father) Challenger 1 exceeded 400 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt flats in 1960. Official FIA land speed records require return runs, however, and Challenger 1, a very complicated machine with four V8 engines and four-wheel-drive broke during it’s 406 miles per hour run. Thompson licked his wounds and started planning a return trip in a different, less complex but faster car.

The next part of the story gets a little grim. Thompson was ready again in 1968, this time with Ford sponsorship and his new Challenger 2, the elegant twin-engined machine you see here. After warmup trips in excess of 400 miles per hour, the weather decided not to cooperate, Ford pulled their sponsorship at the end of the year and that was that–for almost 20 years.  At that point, Mickey and his son Danny decided to pull Challenger 2 out of storage and take another crack at the record — which was cruelly ended when Mickey and his wife were murdered in March 1988. Challenger 2 went back into storage.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end on that note! Nearly 50 years after its original run, Danny pulled the car out of storage and decided to finish the journey his father started. I’m happy to tell you that after a great deal of work, including replacing the Ford engines with Hemis and numerous other changes, Danny was able to push Challenger 2 to a speed of 448.757 (two-way average) in August 2018, eclipsing the previous record for piston-powered, wheel-driven vehicles. That record has since been broken, but ultimately I don’t think someone will be purchasing this vehicle to push it higher — after a 50+ year racing history, I’m hoping Challenger 2 is headed to retirement somewhere; perhaps in your garage or museum? Check out this beautiful folder Mecum has produced for more pictures and information.

I hope whomever does end up with this beauty still fires it up occasionally for exhibition runs, though!

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Comments

  1. Bruce Rolfe

    I went to the World Of Speed museum a few years back. They have Challenger 1 on display there. A very impressive piece of automotive history.

    Like 3
    • Chevy Guy

      Where was that museum? I went to one in Wilsonville Oregon a little while back, the same one?

      Like 1
  2. Mark

    Just one time…..

    Like 5
  3. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Huge kudos to Danny for fulfilling his dads legendary need for speed one more time! It takes some serious personal courage to have made this happen on all fronts:dad, son and especially family.
    If Bill Harrah we’re still alive I’ll bet this would’ve been already on display..what an amazing mechanical feat this is.
    Fastest Challenger in a straight line ever made!

    Like 8
  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    This is an example of what legends are made of. I hope at a minimum it’s displayed and maybe even run every so often.

    Like 5
  5. Don H

    Going ta need a big but garage🏚

    Like 1
    • glen

      A long narrow garage would work!

  6. BR

    Is this above Jay Leno? Hmmm.

    Like 1
  7. Stangalang

    Hey Leno ….you should buy this. At least we know you would take care of it and you don’t have one…YET!!

    Like 4
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    A real good read is Mickey Thompson’s autobiography, “Challenger.” It tells how Mickey and his wife literally drug themselves through the rubble just to get Challenger I going. It certainly wasn’t easy. I hope that this piece of Thompson history goes to a deserving home…

    Like 5
  9. Richard Love

    I had the pleasure of Danny showing me around his work shop (barn) in Ridgway, CO. I met him in our local watering hole. He was just about ready to take the vehicle to California for the final touches. He and his wife had done a great deal of the work on their own. This vehicle and the record were truly labors of love.

    Like 5
  10. Dave

    Let’s see…no numbers matching engines…hey, where DID those Cammers go anyway?
    No air conditioning, no power steering or brakes, no radio. On the plus side, it is four wheel drive and has not one, but TWO 500 ci Elephants! Two 30 gallon tanks ought to keep them fed but nitromethane is on Homeland Security ‘s watch list. See “The Astronaut Farmer” sometime for a graphic display of the consequences of using the wrong fuel.

    Like 1
    • Richard Love

      The cooling is provided by excess fuel washing through the engine.

  11. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Came to suggest that BF has not only a spot for comments on listings, but an added box for a “Thumb Up” vote on the listing itself.

    THUMB UP From Me! This is cool….

    Like 6
  12. glen

    I think it’s fitting that a Challenger, have a Hemi (or multiple Hemis )

    Like 2
  13. Bob McK Member

    Hopefully it will go to a museum.

    Like 4
  14. Dennis Marth

    Pretty cool, but parking would be a real hassle.

    Like 3
  15. TimM

    This sure would be fun to bring to cars and coffee!! I wonder how it handles through the lights in town????

    Like 4
  16. SebastianX1/9

    Fantastic daily driver! Convenient, reliable, and easy to work on!

    Like 5
  17. Michael Streuly

    I hope it gets bought by a land speed racer and taken to the great white dyno and see if it will go 500mph.

    Like 2
  18. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Sold for $561K today!

    The pre-auction estimate was $900K – 1.5M

  19. Michael Streuly

    You could not build a streamliner for that kind of money. Someone got a great deal. The question is now will the car be run or is it going to a museum.

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