Ever wonder what a 1967 Charger convertible would have looked like? Jim Rodebaugh, of Ochelata, OK, must have pondered that same question, as he decided to build one to find out. Here's a first hand look at the rarest car in existence. In fact, it's one of none to be exact! Jim's Charger convertible actually started out life as a 1967 Coronet 500 convertible. It was red with a red interior, 273 automatic and had A/C and power steering. Jim traded a set of $200 seat covers for this car.
To build this car, Jim once again had to tap into his unusual gift of ingenuity (Jim's fabulous replica of the 1964 Charger Concept car is featured elsewhere on this web site). He told me he visualizes what he wants the finished car to look like and then thinks about what he's seen on different cars that may work where he needs to rig something. To begin the project, Charger doors, quarter panels, grille and hidden headlights were mounted on the Coronet 500 shell. Hood louvers from a 1967 Coronet R./T were installed, and just to add to the car's uniqueness, Jim decided to reverse them on his Charger's hood. Jim fabricated the interior hood release latch. The grille badge was robbed from the center of a 1968 Polara steering wheel. It's close enough to a real 1967 Charger's grille badge that you walk right on by and don't even notice it until Jim unscrews it from the grille and hands it to you!
The wheel opening mouldings and belt line mouldings are genuine Charger pieces. The big round Dodge badge was sunken into the Coronet's trunk lid to resemble the Charger's trunk badge, and tail lights are from a Coronet R/T. White stripes, which were originally part of a 1967 Charger Birthday Package option (two different Birthday Packages included stripes, vinyl top and wheel covers), accent the sides of Jim's bright red convertible.
Inside this huge beast, the red 1966 Charger seats are accented with red 1966 Satellite pig skin inserts. Pull down the back of the rear buckets and you'll find that Jim has finished off the rear panel in red carpet and added a big chrome Charger emblem to remind you what this car is you're sitting in. The console clock, folding rear seats, 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission and torque converter were all taken from a GTX.
Under the hood sits an awesome 528 Hemi crate engine. The power this thing develops is incredibly impressive....610 horsepower to be exact! More than enough to propel this big beast down the track! Surprisingly, once it's warmed up, the big Hemi behaves well enough to drive it on the street. In fact, Jim has ticked off 500 miles in the Charger! When I inquired about cooling in the race-only-intended Hemi, Jim says he did no extra machine work and so far, has had no cooling problems in 500 miles worth of short trips. The Charger convertible was originally built with a 426 street Hemi taken from a 1968 GTX. Jim later had a chance to sell this engine and decided to plant the crate Hemi under the hood instead. You might be surprised to see that there is an A/C unit attached to the Hemi! The factory A/C, ductwork, pulleys and compressor are all taken from a 1969 New Yorker and fitted to the 528 Hemi with some tubing fabrication. And yes, it's 100% functional. If you're going to build your own dream car, you might as well have power and comfort both!
To play with the minds of those who inspect the Charger convertible for it's origins, Jim has left the Coronet's original fender ID plate intact (showing it was a small block Coronet 500) and added a fender ID tag from an Oklahoma cop car next to it. The second ID plate reads: Special Order, Special Paint, Special Mask, Body In White. You should see the looks on some of the faces of those people who just can't figure this thing out!
To strengthen the big Charger, the chassis was beefed up with frame connectors, .96" torsion bars, heavy duty rear leaf springs, front and rear sway bars, and front drum brakes from a 1967 Coronet R/T. Rear drum brakes were used off a 1969 New Yorker. Jim's attention to detail is to be commended. He even placed SE emblems and Hemi flags where they would correctly appear on a Hemi Charger! They make the car look so right. Ford road wheels finish off the package. Jim reports that it took eleven months from start to finish to end up with his dream car.
Sitting in this car is like getting into a luxurious, roomy phantasm and, feeling all of that power at the tip of your toes and that wind in your hair, you know this is the car Chrysler SHOULD have built! A very big thanks to Jim for sharing another of his wonderful creations with us (and for the awesome ride!) Jim and his cohorts are working on a story for High Performance Mopar Magazine on how to install the 528 Hemi crate engine into a B-Body; possibly to appear in a Hemi Muscle issue. Watch for it!
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