By Robert Mager
I bought my car some time in 1983 for $200, no engine, trans, interior, 8 ľ" rear, cut inner fenders (weight savings I was told) what a steal, we'll see. The owner wanted another $200 for the original block, "What are you kidding me" I told him, "Double the cost" (bad move on my part - I was only 20 at the time though).
I worked on the car for many years, picking up inner fenders, new outer fenders, a few junk yard and Carlisle trips. I always seemed to find the parts at the opposite end of the Carlisle field, we all know how big it gets there. A set of heads and fenders get heavy very quickly, thanks to all for helping carry the "Precious Parts". We had many laughs and a few sore muscles.
I heard of a 1970 Charger R/T auto car at our local junk yard being scrapped the next day. I talked my brother (Rich) and a couple friends into going and pulling the 440 from this carcass. The car was on top of another which posed a challenge, especially since we only had a few hand tools. The owner said I could have the engine and anything else I could fit on my little hand truck, bad move on his part - we can get very creative. As we tried to get the engine out the rain started and got heavier by the minute, it kept getting heavier, and heavier etc, until it was a monsoon, all of us laughing, quoting Caddy Shack "The heavy stuff isnít coming for a while". We loaded the hand truck with the engine (complete), R/T doors, interior panels and pretty much anything you can think of taking off a 70 Charger. The four of us kind of wheeled/carried this mass over to the owner, his friend laughing his ass off as we walked away only paying $50, I quote is friend "A deal is a deal"
Some time went by and eventually had the engine rebuilt by a local shop, $1800, a small fortune for me at the time. I took the trans from my now defunct 1972 SE (400hp 4 spd car) and the rear, a 8 ĺ with 3:23ís for the R/T. Again, I scrounged for every part to get this thing together. Turned out most of the interior parts were in the car and was able to finish off with donations from the í72.
A painter friend (R.I.P) offered to do the paint and welding on the car for $500. The deal was I had to do the wet sanding; it was a nice Memorial weekend at least.
The car was really starting to come together, probably about 5 years work now and the only way it moved was pushing or flat beds. I was now married, with child, a second coming and not interested anymore, especially since it never ran. I sold the car to my brother for $4,000 and he agreed to sell the car back if I wanted. He eventually got the car running, did some brake work etc. The car still hadnít been re titled, or even on the road, he agreed to sell it back, for the same $4,000. He did get to take runs up and down our block though, proud moment, like having a kid.
I bought the stripes but no one would install them, so my brother and I took on the challenge, successfully I might add, thanks for the encouragement Rich.
My brother went on to purchase a 1971 Charger R/T 440 4spd like mine, in blue and original (his story is on this site also). Unfortunately my car had to become a daily driver for a while and eventually succumbed to "issues" and would not drive very well. We took a couple shots at the local high school, one of the last times I was able to drive her.
I started to build a BMW to drive at high performance driving events (now I instruct) and the Charger had to be outside while I worked on the Beemer. I thought the car would be ok under my cover but NOT. The rain leaked thru the cover, thru the R/T louvered hood, onto the air cleaner, down the little bolt, into the carb and FILLED the entire engine...was I pissed - YES.
Currently (12/17/2010), as I write this story, Iím putting the car back together AGAIN. Iím trying to fix all the issues, along with a fully rebuilt engine. Iíve been diligently collecting everything with help/push of my wife. She wants the charger running so we can go to car shows together; she has a í09 Challenger and wants to hang out at the shows together. I bought her gloves and gave her a quick education on muscle cars, and especially cursing. Did I mention she is only 5í4", 103lbs (dripping wet) and pulled the engine, trans etc with me. She also helped put the engine back; though she couldnít understand why we had to pull the bumper assembly and front valance pan since the hoist wouldnít reach going back in. I told her "things come apart a lot easier than going together", she agreed.
Iím on vacation the last two weeks of the year (2010) and my goal is to have the car running by the end of this vacation, still a chance but weíll see. If not, then soon after, I have to get the Beemer on the lift, a new season starts in April.
Thanks for reading and more to come!!