999 Special Ordered Silver RT/SE
The year was 1979; it was my junior year in high school. I was driving a 1969 Dart that my mom had given me (thanks Mom!) as my first car.
I used it as my pizza delivery car (first job).
With the money I had earned delivering pizzas it was time to start looking for a new set of wheels. The ole slant six was great for everyday transportation but it was no cruiser. So I started searching the local Tradin� Times for a new Dodge.
I had an interest in the 1971-74 Chargers because of my cousins 72 340 Charger. Compared to the six banger Dart that car flew. After one ride in it, I had to have one. So with the paper in one hand and the mighty pen in the other I started circling ads. Here is the ad as it was printed in 1979 (yes I still have the ad).
�70 CHARGER R/T, SE, pw,/ps 440 4bbl,
auto, mech EC, body VGC, vinyl top,
leather buckets, $1100: ***-**** aft 6pm
At the time I did not know what a 1970 Charger looked like! (Hey I was 17).
I knew the 71-74-body style and what a 69 Charger looked like but I had no idea about the 1970.
So it was off to check out this ride. I pull up to the house and see the car in the garage. After a visual inspection, it was time for a test drive. It was a whole new experience compared to the Dart. Four hundred and forty cubic inches, leather high back bucket seats and it felt like I was surrounded by a mass of Detroit Muscle. Now time for negotiations, the owner points out that he let a friend of his drive it after he placed the ad and his buddy ran it into a big rock in the park.
(Later I would realize that this guy was a stoner and probably hit something himself.)
It bent the front valance and bumper. He told me he would knock seventy dollars off of the asking price. I left a deposit of $20.00 and told him I would be back the next day with the rest of the money and pick up the car.
Needless to say the next day could not come soon enough. Mom felt it was in my best interest if she came along to see what I was getting myself into. We took it for another test drive and her comments were along the lines of- isn�t it a little loud?!, are you sure this is what you want? I just nodded my head and paid the dude. Total $1030.00 3/28/1979
So now the Charger is at home in the folks garage for me to start tinkering with. Time to start with a tune up and to get a few things working again.
In a matter of the first week I purchase points, fuses ($6.81), concealed headlight relay ($13.94), dash board circuit ($9.07) dash bulbs ($3.64) a service repair manual ($6.24) chrome valve cover, gaskets and bolts ($36.45).
I have a box of receipts and I get blown away by the prices back then.
Over the next couple years I take more things apart and keep ordering new pieces- front and rear valances, reverse light assemblies, license plate light, power window switches, R/T tail light trim panel and so on..
The following year the motor is out and the rebuild begins. Nothing like enjoying the new ride.
I have most of the car torn apart and some not so thrilled parents.
They didn�t get to use their garage much while I lived there.
The more I ripped into this car the more I realized this thing had a tough nine years on the road. I stripped the multi layers of paint off; my sister even helped me with that (thanks Laura). Though I don�t thinks she �s been near Aircraft Paint Remover ever since�
The entire passenger side was filled with plastic filler. The quarter had filler up to an inch thick between the door and the tire. If I didn�t know any better I would say I had the original General Lee that they used in all the jump scenes.
At this point I had a friend of mine who bumped and painted cars tell me he would do the bodywork and paint my car if I helped him with some of his customer cars. No problem, so I thought.
My body shop expert looked at getting my car done as quickly as possible because he was not making any money on it. So the repairs were made, short cuts were taken, corners were cut. But I was happy at the time because the car was now in primer.
Time to pick a color. After going through several color paint chip catalogs, I settled on an Imron dark metallic blue (polyurethane).
First the engine compartment and under hood were painted. I took the car back home and installed the rebuilt and now painted Chrysler blue (don�t ask me why) 440 with a six-pack on it back into the car.
So by November of 1980 the rebuilt (blue) engine is in, the engine compartment and under hood is painted.
Well as time rolls on and I start to learn a little more about this car along with a friend who has lost all interest in my project, it is time for another change.
First thing is to go and paint it an original factory color (still not sold on silver) How about Plum Crazy!!
So over the next couple of years the car gets re-stripped with every intention to do it the right way.
The fender was repairable; though I needed to find a door and a quarter
panel. While I was at it the truck floor was coming out also. It had rust pin holes in it and it had to be replaced.
One of the items I also needed was a power brake booster. I found a parts car in Owosso, Mi that had just what I was looking for. I was able to buy the whole car and strip it where it sat. It had usable fenders, bumper, grill and an assortment of other pieces. We took the torches to cut down on disassembly time. Everything was going smoothly until I tried to cut the booster off of the firewall. The wires behind the dash caught on fire and by the time I got to the house to get water the car was engulfed in flames. This would not have been so bad except for the fact that the car was parked next to a wooden barn!! Being a small town, within minutes half of the community was there to see the blaze. Meanwhile we were loading up and truck and getting the heck out of Dodge! Actually we stuck around until the fire was out and the barn was safe.
I purchased a NOS quarter from Mitchell Motors, bought a used R/T door, and replacement trunk floor from Motor City Originals (remember them).
I bought myself a Sears portable sandblaster and turned the garage into Daytona beach. The front fenders, door, deck lid and hood were sent Redi Strip. So as the ambition level to crawl under the car and sand blast everyday starts to fade, and getting out and having some fun seems to be the answer.
Mopar Nationals 1991, should be looking for Charger parts but I had other ideas. I told my two buds that went with me that I was going down there to buy a Dart convertible; they shook their heads and laughed. Guess what I came home with? (story in itself) 1968 Dart GT convert, $3,500
Back to the Charger, bottom and engine compartment of Charger sandblasted, quarter cut off, trunk floor, rear valance and rear tail light panel removed. Time to paint, right!
Mr. Inpatient can�t wait until the bodywork is done to see what Plum Crazy will look like. So I prime the underneath and the front end then start painting (so much for doing thing right). I am excited to say the least. Now to find a body shop to do the sheet metal and paint work..
Hold everything, instead of getting the Charger ready for paint I decide to convert the six banger GT into a 340 machine. You knew the Dart had to come into this equation somehow!
A trip to Arizona to visit a friend in 1993 proved to be worthwhile. One trip to Black Canyon Company (remember them?) and I located the tail panel section I needed for my Charger.
The next several years are spent gathering parts, sending parts out for restoration, spending money on the house, girlfriends, etc�
Finally time to get her to the paint shop!!!! I checked out several body shops and with the recommendation of a Plum Crazy Challenger owner I settled on one. Now the game plan was still to paint it Plum Crazy at this point. I drove after work to the shop (40 minutes one way) two to four times a week to see the progress on my car. All the sheetmetal is welded on, the back half of the car is in primer. The whole time my car is in the shop a friend of mine (Rudy) persistently bugs me to paint it the original color, the entire time the guys at the shop are on the same bandwagon. I still am not sold on silver, but after several beatings (J/K) I decide (lol) it will look good wearing the original pigments from the factory. Next step, take it back home and strip off all the Plum Crazy!! My sister was nowhere to be found this time but I did manage to persuade my buddy Roy to lend a hand (still owe him a steak dinner). A couple weeks later after getting all the paint off the underbody (again), the engine compartment (again) and the front wheel well area (again) it was back to the shop.
Finally we have paint!!!! Did I tell you how much I like this color!!
Charger is painted and at home, time for some assembly.
This is after I switch cams, intake and carb on the motor.
I thought I would try my hand at installing my vinyl top. Let�s just say I gave it a valiant effort but was not pleased with the results. So off to the interior shop for new seat covers, headliner and vinyl top. So far, so good, so I thought.
Everything is coming together, slowly but progress is being made.
The following year I start noticing bubbles under the vinyl top. This is not a good sign. Long story short, off comes the second top along with removing all the glue so a new top can be installed (different guy)
During this time I have new neighbors (Brian & Jennine) move in a couple doors down. Call it Karma or just the kick in the butt I needed but he owns a 1968Charger R/T. What are the odds?!
Now it is time for my first show, the 2005 Mopar Nationals. We are still putting the car together on the day we are leaving for Columbus. I was so wound up that day that after we had the car on the trailer and were on our way I realized I had left the tickets for the show at home. Once again my neighbor (thanks Brian) to the rescue, broke in my house and met us so I didn�t have to drive all the way home.
There were actually two highlights of that weekend; one would have been that after all those years I finally was able drive my Charger at the Mopar Nationals and the other was the ultra fine woman I met in Columbus that weekend. Sorry I did not take any pics of her and my hotrod. Maybe this year!
When anyone asks, how come it took you so long to finish your car? I now have a story to show them!!