Sunday, May 20, 2012

1968 Dodge Charger R/T

Restoration World 
Review #6

The first car to break 200mph at 
NASCAR, and loved by the bad guy in films

What more could you want?

The question in these posts is whether or not an old beater is interesting enough to be restored. The Dodge Charger is the definitive 60s muscle car to many people. 

In the case of the Charger R/T it isn't a question of if you should restore one, but rather, when.

Sure, the brakes work using hopeful thoughts, and the steering is about the same as an oil tanker...but who cares? Look at it. This is the bad guy car from Bullitt

In fact, the Charger used in the filming of Bullitt survived the jumps and carnage quite nicely, while the McQueen's Mustang needed constant repair. This is very cool, but the countless destruction of other Chargers in movies and TV has had a detrimental effect on pricing. 

More on that in a moment.

Are you talkin' to me?

Dodge made about 300,000 Chargers, and they were always in the shadow of the Mustang. Although some gear-heads feel the Charger is the greatest American car ever, Dodge was never happy, and kept upping the ante with the Charger Daytona, and the 500.

The R/T 440 Hemi is the one you want, though. The R/T just looks like it's up to no good.

The designers at Dodge wanted the Charger to be aerodynamic when they shaped the body. Unfortunately, none of them knew anything about aerodynamics, and made a hash of it. It doesn't matter.

Under the the hood is a 7.2 liter V-8 with more horsepower than the Hoover Dam, and wind resistance is the least of the Charger's problems.

An old muscle car is going to have old muscle car steering. Left-ish and right-ish.

The brakes are made of tinfoil. It weighs two tons, do the math.

During the filming of Bullitt, the director asked a highly-trained stunt driver to drive a Charger at high speed into an exploding garage. The stunt driver missed the garage.

Missed. The. Garage.

There is some good news. Parts are plentiful, and there are loads of aftermarket upgrades. If you do a proper restoration your Charger R/T will be worth about 40K on the low side.

A rather embarrassing episode in the Charger's past is the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard. The less the said about that, the better - but the hundreds of destroyed Chargers crashed during filming has driven the price up, mainly because there aren't that many left. 

I found a decent 440 (pictured below) for $7,000, and that's a pretty good price. As you can see, there are parts missing, but the body is straight.

Quite frankly, I've started with worse several times. But then, I enjoy driving to hell and back searching for parts.

As you know, I've implemented the 'Joy Osmanski Factor' to determine whether or not a beater is worth restoring. Will the vehicle in question be cool enough for multiple Oscar winner Joy Osmanski? Will she want to go for a ride in your restored car?

This is a valid test. Joy is not only one of the world's most beautiful women, she also has an IQ of around 215, about 50 points higher than Einstein.

She designed rockets engines for NASA before switching to a career in acting. She is most definitely qualified to judge your resto project.

What Joy said about the Charger R/T:

"This car scared me a little, just looking at it. Then I went for a ride....and whoa, the Charger is fast. So fast that my eyeballs flattened and my uterus fell out. If this car were a man, it would look like Tom Selleck and could impregnate itself. Five stars!"

Umm...forget what I said about the IQ stuff.

What is your 
favorite muscle car?

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