In 1983, I was rebuilding our 1966 Dodge Coronet 500 (HIS 66) and as it lay in pieces scattered around the garage, Jan was upset that our daily driver was out of service and all she had to drive was our '68 heavy duty 3/4 ton Power Wagon, not a soft ride, or our '72 Dodge conversion van which in those days did not have the large side windows you see today.
We heard about this thing called the Mopar Nationals and that year it was to be held in Indy, so we decided to pack the van and with a few extra $$$ headed out to find a daily driver for Jan. Back in those days, the Nats were a lot smaller (and more fun) with the event being held at the Indianapolis Speedway with the swap meet held in the parking lot across the street. We pulled into town and found a room just down the street from the race track (no trying to find rooms one year in advance) and wandered around the motel parking lots on Cloud 9, as there were Mopars everywhere. The next morning we awoke to the rumbling of 440's, 383's and Hemi's warming up in the parking lot. I jumped out of bed, got dressed, grabbed the camera and wandered the parking lots until most of the cars had left. I then went back to the room and got Jan up and we headed to the track where we had one of the best times of our life.
The down side was there were very few cars for sale and the few (2 or 3) were too pricey. We did pick up a few things at the swap meet but no car. A few days after arriving home, I was looking through a local paper where I noticed an ad for a '66 Dodge Charger that was not far away. I called, got some details on the car, then Jan and I decided to drive out and look the car over.
The car had just been repainted and looked very sharp. We took it out for a test drive and it road better than my Coronet. Upon close inspection, I could tell there were a few spots that had rust repair but for the most part, the car was solid, the interior was very nice and the car ran like a top. The asking price was $2,500 but I thought that was a little high considering the fact the quality of the rust repair was questionable. We told the owners we would think it over, but they knew we had a soft spot in our hearts for '66 Dodges and they wanted us to make them an offer. Well, I really was unsure of whether or not this was what we were looking for so I said I would go $1,200.
To our surprise, he said we could have it and by the way, he also had a '69 RoadRunner 383 engine along with an extra tail light assembly and a few other miscellaneous parts (of which included an extra set of pistons and connecting rods for a 383).
Well needless to say, Jan drove off with the Charger with me following in the truck with the engine and spare parts. Upon arriving home, we put the car up on jack stands-as the previous owner stated that the car had been in storage for several years-and proceeded to give it a thorough once over. We were pleasantly surprised, as the car checked out better than I expected, so Jan was back in a '66 Dodge again.
Jan used the car as an everyday driver for the next year as she preferred the Charger's automatic over the Coronet's 4-speed (especially in the Minnesota winters).
Well, after a LOT of people hassling us about driving the Charger on the salty winter roads, about November of that next year, we decided not to drive it in the winter any more. The Charger now sits in storage since we got HER '66 Coronet on the road, the Charger has taken a back seat (those Chargers sure are hot in the summer without A/C).
The plan is: in the not so distant future to pull her all apart and fix her up better than new, only with A/C.
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