From the moment I saw The Dukes of Hazzard as a child I knew I wanted a 1969 Dodge Charger. I don’t think I even knew what kind of car it was when I first saw it but I knew I wanted one more than anything.
Growing up working on cars with my Dad prepared me for my later automotive adventures. We worked on all sorts; I cut my teeth on an Innocenti Mini which my Dad bought for me on the understanding that I rebuild it from the ground up myself.
Later we built a smallblock Ford 302ci for a GT40 replica made by John Tojeiro that my Dad owned. Working on an American V8 was fantastic and as it turned out great experience.
Flash forward several years to 2006 and through a sad situation I was given the opportunity to find a silver lining by finally owning my dream car. I had seen it advertised on the Mopar Muscle Association website. It was local to me, the correct year, and correct engine and within budget. I’d already bought it in my mind, this is fate, I thought to myself.
I went along to see it and as soon as the garage doors opened I thought: “What’s my Charger doing in this bloke’s garage?”
It might have not been perfection, but it certainly had all the right traits
It had the wrong grille, it sounded awful, there were bits missing and it stank. I loved it instantly.
It fulfilled my criteria of being a 1969 Dodge Charger with the 440ci 7.2 litre engine and a column shift Torqueflite auto gearbox.
I never wanted to make it into a bare bones drag racer; I wanted a big muscle cruiser which is why I went auto, power steering too. It’s a ‘one elbow out of the window’ type of car.
The next stage was deconstruction and overhauling. I knew it was not a numbers matching car but as we delved deeper under the paint we discovered it was quite the patch work of bits.
The Charger gets a make-over by the wizard
The rear arches were rotten and packed with filler, same story with the front arches which had already been patched up to accommodate the ’69 Charger style side reflectors. From this we can assume the whole front end had been damaged or replaced for some reason, hence the ’68 grille.
My bodywork & paint were done by a genius metal wizard called Dave Potts who lived locally to me as I realised I was out of my depth. I know my limits and had no intention of trying to do the work myself. I’m an ok mechanic but I’d never done bodywork or paint before and wasn’t going to start on my dream car(!)
Dave fabricated new wings, front and rear from fresh steel and blended them seamlessly into the existing panels. He also suggested that since I wasn’t going to have a matching numbers car that we throw in a few special touches. Hence the shaved door handles & locks as well as the body coloured bumpers. Speaking of the colour, it’s not a traditional Chrysler colour as you may have guessed. It has no name, just numbers but when the car is outside in the sunlight, freshly washed & waxed it shines like you wouldn’t believe.
The colour may go by no-name, but it does look the dog dangles
Next the engine. Orders went in; parts came back the build carried on with advice from local drag racing guru Eric Woodall the 440 monster came to life. I knew I’d never have a 10 second car in this thing; it’s a beast.. I just wanted a tidy muscle car with enough grunt to get it to shift. My thoughts about this are simple, if you’re going to get a car as huge and ridiculous as this you may as well get the one with the biggest engine(!)
The car was still rough sounding when I first heard it, straight through pipes from the headers, no mufflers/silencers. Brutal. It put a big smile on my face.
Little did I know my journey to get the car road worthy and legal was just beginning.
Richard and his Dodge Charger showing that your dreams can be achieved
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You’ll have to stick around for part 2.