Charles Schwab is honored to congratulate Kevin Na on his victory at the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge. With his four-shot, 70-62-69-66 win, Na captured the iconic Leonard Trophy and will have his name etched in stone on the Wall of Champions at Colonial Country Club. He was also presented with a one-of-a-kind, new prize—a custom fully-restored 1973 Dodge® Challenger from Schwab.
During Sunday’s champion’s ceremony on the 18th hole, Na was officially awarded the car—painted in custom Glacier Blue—featuring one-off Schwab badging and touches of Colonial’s trademark Scottish royal tartan on the seats to match the Champion’s tartan jacket that is synonymous with this historic tournament. Soon after, Na announced he was gifting the car to his longtime caddie, Kenny Harms. Schwab is proud to celebrate Na’s victory at the 73rd edition of this storied PGA TOUR event along with a very successful first year as title sponsor in Fort Worth.
Narrator: 1973 in America. It's when Johnny Miller finished off the championship record 63 and claimed the U.S. Open title.
Announcer 1: And they're off.
Narrator: Secretariat was the first to win the Triple Crown in 25 years. NASA's Pioneer-10 marked humanity's first approach to Jupiter. It was a year of challengers.
Emcee: It's my great honor to introduce to you Chuck Schwab.
Chuck Schwab: Schwab's origin is about changing the face of an entire—a whole industry. We have a clear history, as a company, of leading with innovation. And I know for me, the journey has always been fun, and I hope it will be a whole lot of fun for each of you. Thank you very much.
Mason Reed: You can look across any category, and in every single one, you have legacy or traditional, and then you'll have challengers. The challengers tend to fight the status quo and offer an alternative to the legacy way of doing things.
In 1973, Charles Schwab was no different. Over 40 years ago, he made the decision to challenge the financial institutions of the time and started to ask a lot of questions about the way the investing model was set up for individual investors.
I oversee brand at Charles Schwab, which includes our national and local sponsorships, like golf. We've been involved in golf for decades, and there's a lot of legacy traditions in the golf world.
With Colonial specifically, there's a tartan jacket given to the winner. There's also a large trophy. So we wanted to take a look at that and see if there's something else we could do that would challenge some of the status quo expectations of prizing, something one of a kind that's never been done before.
What does a car have to do with Charles Schwab or a golf tournament? Charles Schwab Corporation was founded in 1973, and the name of our golf tournament is the Charles Schwab Challenge. And so it was pretty natural to get to the point of wanting to have a '73 Challenger be the first innovative prize that we introduce into the tournament—and if you want to do that, you have to find somebody like Steve Strope.
Steve Strope, world-renowned street machine builder
3 Top 10 Cars of the Year, Hot Rod magazine
4 Best of Show wins, SEMA
Steve Strope: I've been open for business for about 17 years. Building the car's not the challenge—we can do that in our sleep. The real challenge is to go into a different place that isn't necessarily instantly acceptable like the professional golf world, where there really isn't a whole lot of highly modified muscle cars laying around.
Announcer 2: It's aerodynamically clean. It's good-looking. This small-part pony is available in two forms: the Challenger and the Rallye Challenger. If pony cars turn you on, and you like a spirited performer, this Rallye just might punch your button.
Steve: The American muscle car, technically—it can be argued that it started in 1964. The Dodge Challenger was Chrysler's throwing their hat into the ring of the American pony car.
In the early '70s, drag racing was in full swing. People building these cars at home, these hot rods, and they're like, "Hey, why don't we take that car, stick that big motor in it, and sell it as a performance car?" The rest, as they say, is history. It caught on like wildfire: big motors, four speeds, and drag packs. They were sold ready to go racing.
'73, unfortunately, started getting a lot of safety regulations and weaker horsepower. There was the oil embargo, the gas crisis. There was a couple of things going anti-muscle car. But we are going to fix that.
Simi Valley, CA
Steve: So first, we'll go with different blueprints. Here's the car.
But, we really only had a handful of inputs. We wanted it to be a '73 Challenger, and we really wanted it to be blue. Beyond that, though, we really didn't put any constraints on the design process and the vision for it, because that's not really our area of expertise. And we don't hire someone like Steve and then tell him how to design a one-of-a-kind car.
Steve: So, on the seat, I'd like to get a hold of—
Mason: The tartan, right?
Mason: Yeah, that's really cool.
Steve: I'd love to get a hold of the guy that makes the jacket and borrow some of his—well, I'm not going to give it back, so I'm just going to steal.
Mason: The designs are absolutely incredible. And the person that wins this is going to be an amazingly lucky guy.
Steve: We're making sure it's going to look good just sitting there. It looks fast sitting there, still. But I didn't want carve up what was there. The Challenger was a very, very attractive car.
So the first thing we'll do with the project vehicle is we'll go around the car, inspect it, kind of survey what's there, and then begin the disassembly process. The fenders will come off, the hood will come off, the doors will come off, the deck lid will come off. Then all of the metal pieces will be stripped to bare metal, so this car will go back to the day it was made.
Our second stage is what we call “fabrication.” This means making or creating all the parts we need to make the car special. Blending the old and the new isn't too hard on this—it's kind of what I do. And it's just a careful selection of parts and pieces, colors and textures, and will also be a lot of really cool surprises underneath the car.
This is a seat I haven't used before. I kind of found it by accident, because it's not from the muscle car wheelhouse, as it was actually used for jeeps. This is nice.
Shop Tech: Is the lumbar support good?
Steve: Yeah. It's actually like I said, they designed a pretty comfortable seat with the...
We are doing some really neat things with the interior. We're bringing in the material for the winner's jacket onto the seats and in the headliner on the inside of the car.
Mick's guys will be doing all the paint and body work. Extremely important is the body work and paint because a perfect paint job comes from perfect body work.
Mick: We basically surface and shape the whole car. That way we can guarantee the lines are crisp, the edges are straight, the reflections are good, the highlights are right, when you look down the side of the car. Then we go to primer and basically do the same process all over again. It's a lengthy process. Typically, that's a three- to four-month job for us. Steve, of course, wanted it done a little bit quicker than that.
Steve: It's got this beautiful highlight, this soft, silver, this small, little, tiny flake in it that's just stunning. And that's going to look amazing next to the stainless and chrome around the outside of the car.
Hearing a 1973 Challenger in its stone stock form isn't very exciting. '70 and '71 were the Dodge Challenger's main years—they came with many high-performance options. By '72 and '73, that started getting weeded out, so you saw more things, unfortunately, that were creeping in, like lower horsepower engines. And there wasn't as many performance options available as the more hair-on-the-chest '70 or '71 versions.
This is going to be a little different deal. The engine that's going in the car is a high-performance crate motor that could be found in a modern muscle car. It's a 6.4-liter Hemi. It makes about 485 horsepower. It's a fantastic engine.
Steve: Going up.
Shop Tech: And the wheels can go, right, right. Keep going.
Steve: We're okay so far.
Shop Tech: Perfect.
Steve: Yeah. Nice. Oh, that's good. There it is—a heart transplant. A 2018 thing stuffed in a 1973 thing. Well, that will do. It looks good.
So, at this point, now, we got to run wild and starting putting all the other parts on the car. So, if you'll excuse me, we're going to start assembling.
The front can go on. The rear can go in, whatever. All of it. Get it on.
It's a very focused effort. Everybody with eyes and hands, everyone paying attention. I mean this as a compliment to my group, not me. Professionals make it look easy. It ain't that easy.
Announcer 3: This cave-banger came out of a hole well. Throttle response was good. 30 miles an hour took 4.5 seconds.
Announcer 4: We found the steering respond to be good.
Announcer 3: Beefier leg muscles make for good handling during...
Steve: Till it's real, it's, you know, it’s just an idea.
How I judge my personal happiness or pride with a project when it's completed is how it makes me feel when I look at it after about the twentieth time. And this thing, I wouldn't change a thing. I think it's striking, I think it's elegant, I think it's crisp. And I think it's bitchin'. Not only does the car look great, I think it looks great for what it's supposed to be, where it's going, and what it's supposed to do.
We watched it evolve very quickly. I was trying to take colors and textures and ideas that work for that end goal. We are staying very true to what Dodge was trying to do when they created the Challenger, which was an exciting, good-looking car that looks like it's going fast when it's just sitting there. And I just wanted my own little spin on that for Schwab.
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Used with permission. [Willis Tower, Chicago, IL], Fazlur R. Khan Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.
Photography by McShane Flemming Studios. Various other images provided by the San Francisco Examiner and NASA.
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