|Me in front of the Charger in May 1976, the night of my high school graduation.|
The first time I bought my 1969 Dodge Charger R/T was in June, 1975. I had just finished my junior year of high school. My stepfather had been a Dodge dealership service manager for 30 years. I had a 1968 Charger R/T at the time. When I bought it about a year before, my stepfather took the 440 Magnum motor and 727 transmission out to put in a motor home and replaced it with a new 318 and auto transmission. Unfortunately for us Mopar enthusiasts, the motor home guys loved those motors and that is where a lot of muscle car number-matching motors went. He also put a block of wood under the accelerator pedal. He and the entire dealership got a large laugh out of that!
I always liked the looks of the '69 Chargers and I was looking for a car with more power. I saw an ad in the paper for a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T with a 440 in it. I showed it to my step dad. He remarked they were usually all cut up and trashed-not to bother going to look at it. Even though he was usually right, I went to look at it anyway. When I got there I almost wet my pants! Here sat an unmolested Charger R/T. Except for the cheater slicks on the rear and the 6-hole slotted wheels (which I have never seen another set), it was emaculate. It had the original A4 silver paint with a black vinyl top, hood indentations were blacked out and of course a black bumble bee stripe. The interior was black buckets with a console. It also had the Tic-Toc-Tach. He had ordered it with the A32 Super Performance axle package so it had a 4:10 Dana with the Hemi radiator and suspension. It had power disc brakes, power steering with cooler and the locking gas cap. It was spotless with 48,000 miles on it. The original owner had documented every time he filled it with gas, added or or done any repairs.
The owner was a teacher at the local community college. He had bought the car new in North Dakota and moved out here to Oregon. He and his wife were having a new baby and needed to sell it. I told him who my step dad was. He knew him and let me take it to show him. I was in heaven. I was 17 and was behind the wheel of an awesome muscle car. My step dad looked it over and determined it had a
|At the drag strip where it ran 13.50. The side pipes were just for show.|
I would wash the car every morning before I drove it. I became known at school for my car. Even when I went to my high school reunion, everyone had to ask if I still had the silver Charger. I drove this car to the senior prom, my graduation and I even got a ticket in the school parking lot with it. I drove it regularly, even on several trips out of state. In 1977, I picked up an 8 3/4 rear end with 2.76 gears and swapped it with the Dana. The Dana went into storage but is now back in the car.
I remember back in 1978, a guy with a 340 Dart wanted to race me. With the 2.76 gears, I knew the freeway was the place to go. We decided on a deserted stretch and all he could say afterwords was: "How fast were you going? My speedometer was buried and you left me like I was standing still!" I won't say how fast I was going but let us say it was faster than the speedometer would read.
In 1977, I decided to put the Charger in a local car show. So I went to work detailing the car. The day of the show, it took the trophy for Best In Show. I then put the car in storage and drove it maybe 500 miles the next 10 years. I had a good friend that had been trying to buy the car for 10 years. I wanted to buy a new tournament ski boat and pay cash so.....I called Wally Tuesday night in 1988 and he was at my door with the money on Wednesday.
It had 109,000 miles when he bought it. I had painted several cars for him, his family and friends so he brought the Charger back several months later to have me paint it inside and out. I painted it, installed the R/T strip and he put it back together. He kept the car several years and then traded it to his son, Bill, for a Cuda. He eventually sold the car without calling me to see if I wanted it.
I have now worked at a Chevy dealership for 20 years. Sorry about cussing. Two years ago, I got back into Mopars. I also own a 1970 SuperBird 440+6 clone with a 5-speed and a NOM 1970 RoadRunner 383 automatic.
I contacted Bill and got the name of the person he sold the Charger to. Unfortunately, Troy had moved. I did a little detective work and found him. I gave him a call and informed him if he wanted to sell the car, I was interested. He called me several months later on Friday night, November 4, 2001. We agreed on a price and I went to the shop where the car was stored. I walked in the shop and saw MY car.
I couldn't believe my eyes. It was exactly as it had been when I painted it 12 years ago. I walked around the car, opened the driver's door and the interior was just as it had been when I sold it. It even smelled the same. Needless to say, I bought the car without even driving it.
While we were waiting for him to get there, I discovered that his stepmother works at the same dealership as I do. Sure is a small world.
The car now has 119,000 miles on it. The motor and transmission have never been out of the car. I also have the build sheet and the fender tag is still on the inner fender. I'm planning on a few detail items this year and my wife will drive it around town and to a few car shows this summer.
I had the fender tag and build sheet decoded: it is a 1969 Charger R/T with the 375 hp 440, 727 automatic, A4 silver poly. It was built at the Hamtramck, MI assembly plant and was #142,291 of the cars built there that year. It was scheduled to be built on Friday, December 13, 1968.
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