My (orange) ’71 Charger R/T

This car was originally a nicely loaded 440 4-bbl, but when I bought it, there was a replacement 440 6-pack engine in it.


V6X 26 END
  N41 N96 R11 V08 V21
C16 C55 J45 J78 J81 M21
EV2  U  A01 A36 A45 B11
EV2 D6X9 TX9 910 036908
E86 D32 WS23 U1G 112111

ENGINE S/N: 1A188862

The car was Hemi Orange, black interior, automatic trans, 3.55 Sure Grip, Air Grabber, front chin spolier, rear Go-Wing. It had been repainted once but they did not put the side stripes back on. However, they did tape off the black hood treatment. The paint on the Air Grabber door was badly lacquer checked and I would later strip it down and repaint it. It had 65,000 miles when I acquired it on 9-16-89. I traded my ’69 Charger R/T plus $2500 cash for it.

I didn’t drive it much when I was in Virginia. I took it to only 1 car show, at the 75-80 Dragway.

When I moved to Idaho, I left it parked in a friend’s garage; then 6 months later, I flew back and drove the car cross-country. On that trip, I had specifically wanted to stop by Jerry Junnemann’s “Wheels N Spokes” museum in Hays, Kansas. I left Virginia on a Friday evening and by Sunday afternoon I was making good time across Kansas. I considered stopping in Hays (which was about 12 miles ahead) and I also thought that if I kept driving, I could make it to Denver by midnight; but there still was no way I could make it to work in Twin Falls by Monday morning. What to do, what to do….. Then the engine died and I drifted to the side of the road. I looked at the dash and said “OK, I see which way YOU’RE voting“. The fuel gauge showed 1/2 tank so I got out, popped the hood, and checked for spark at the coil. Nothing. I removed the distributor cap, cranked the engine over by inserting the key into the starter relay, and the problem was obvious – the points had no gap. Having no tools with me, I had to get creative. Using one of the hood pin clips as a lever and the other clip as a steady rest, I was able to bend the point arm just enough to make a gap. It wasn’t pretty, but the engine started. “OK, you win; we’re spending the night“. I limped the car into town and spotted a K-Mart. I ran inside and luckily they had a set of Mopar points, which I bought along with a straight screwdriver. Out in the parking lot, I started installing the points when I saw the store turn off the lights, indicating they were closing up for the day. It was then that I realized I had not bought a feeler gauge set. Hmmmm, time to get creative again. I remembered that paper was about 0.004″ thick, so I folded the receipt twice making the MacGuyver version of a 0.016” feeler gauge. With the points set and the car running great, I found a cheap hotel for the night, found a pizza joint up the street, took a shower, and got a good night’s sleep. The following morning I stopped by the museum and spent 3 hours pouring over the cars they had on display. The guy that was running the front desk said Jerry was out of town and he was nice enough to pull back some of the display chains so I could get better pictures. He also popped a few hoods for me. We talked about Mopars and I pointed out my car in the parking lot. He walked me through their body shop, pointing out the cars that were in progress. Then we went out back and he pointed out their private 2 acre junkyard, which they used for parts on cars in the shop. Then he pointed out a large metal building and said it was full of very cool Mopars just waiting their turn in the shop. It was like visiting the Mopar holy land. I left at 11 AM and I drove like mad, making it home to Twin Falls at 3:30 AM.

I drove it to only 1 car show in Idaho. I had registered it for the “Stock” class but the show judges tried to put me in the “Modified” class because of the intake & carb change. I protested, so they refunded my entrance fee and said I would not be judged. Everyone I talked to that day said I would have easily gotten 2nd place if I was still in the “Stock” class.

I sold the car in 1993 through a consignment store in Boise, Idaho with 68,000 miles. Before selling the car, I removed the 6 pack setup and installed the correct 4 bbl unit that the car was supposed to have. The 6-pack unit was destined to go on my ’70 Road Runner, but that’s another story…..

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What if….?

Thoughts from someone who has too much time on their hands……

What if … money and time are the 2 basic commodities in life that capitalism makes sure we never have enough of? What are you going to do about it?

What if … the coronavirus pandemic was invented by anarchists to show exactly how fragile our global “economy” really is? Would you fix it as-is or would you build something better?

What if … this virus is a ruse to get more people tested, so their DNA is on file for future use against them? Tests like “23 and Me” are only somewhat popular, but this virus makes it almost compulsory. Places like this are popping up: and I’m wondering what exactly they are collecting samples of….?

What if … all of the “non-essential” jobs were completely eliminated? Just struck from the economy entirely. This idea certainly sheds a new light on who is really more important than who.

What if … all politicians, 1%ers, bankers, stock brokers, etc all succumbed to the virus? Society could start over. (Normally I don’t wish harm to others, but there would be something quite satisfying in ridding society of all of the leeches that we currently have). Being a mortician would be quite profitable.

What if …… all of this pandemic response is just the toilet paper manufacturers flexing their might over all of humanity? Why does our economy seem so out-of-balance all the time?

What if … this happens again next year, when flu season starts again? Are there going to be shortages (either real or imaginary) of all the same stuff, again?

What if ….. THIS society is the new “norm”?

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My (green) ’71 Charger R/T

I bought this Charger in 1987, which was about a year after I had moved to SoCal. I had been giving out my phone number to lots of car owners, telling them “If you ever want to sell your car, call me first”. Finally my efforts paid off. A guy named Terry Valentine had showed up to our car club meeting once and I gave him my name & number. Soon after that, he had the taste for a 4 speed car and had located a ’69 Road Runner 383 4 speed that he wanted to buy. He called me up and immediately I went to his house.

The Charger was a glossy black though there were some other colors starting to show underneath in the engine compartment. The fendertag confirmed that it was an R/T and originally Sassy Grass Green. The car had some custom work done to the body lines but the oddest thing was a radio delete dash (not original to the car).

Terry & I went for a short test drive in his neighborhood. He mentioned that the car had a rebuilt transmission and I asked if I could see how it kicked down. He said “Sure!” so I stomped the gas pedal to the floor. The 727 downshifted from 3rd to 1st, the 4 barrel carb began to growl, and the rear tires went up in smoke. We were facing the houses to the left as we were traveling up the street to the right and there was a kid riding his bike on the sidewalk. His jaw dropped in amazement as we blazed past him. The trans grabbed 2nd gear, the car straightened up and up the street we went. Looping back around to Terry’s house, I parked the car by the curb, got out, and sat down next to it, visibly shaking. I told him the car was sold, we just needed to talk price. We greed on $2500 which was actually quite expensive (at the time), so I ended up getting a personal loan from my bank to make the purchase.

I drove the car to Spring Fling in 1988 and somehow lucked into getting a trophy for the car. (2nd place ’71-’74 B-Body Restified class)

I knew the engine was tired because it leaked almost as much oil as it burned, but I did not have time for a complete restoration. So I pulled the engine out, stripped it down, and dropped off the pieces at the local machine shop that I was using, At the time, I had no idea who Joe Reath was or the drag racing history of Reath Automotive; I just knew that Joe was a great guy with LOTS of stories about building old Hemis (but that’s another story). Joe said the cylinder bores were worn about 0.022”, but since the wear was concentric (NOT egg-shaped), it would clean up at 0.030” oversize. A week later I picked up my parts and reassembled my engine.

5 months later, I ended up moving cross-country (again) and I used the green Charger to pull my red ’69 Charger R/T on a tow dolly. After getting settled into a new house & job, I decided I wanted to tackle the task of an actual restoration.

My car had an Air Grabber hood which was not original, because it was an original A/C car. I met a guy named Ricky Greer who was also restoring a ’71 Charger R/T and he had the louvered hood that I needed, so we worked a trade for my Air Grabber hood. I drove to his house, we went to a local car show together, then afterwards we unbolted my hood, bolted his hood on, and I drove home.

The engine & trans came back out and I started stripping off many layers of paint (the original green, partial green re-paint, white, orange, and at least 3 layers of black). The vinyl roof was not original, so that trim came off and I welded the holes shut. At some time in the past, the car had fender flares on the rear ¼ panels, so there were dozens of holes back there to weld up. The wheel lips had also been radius-ed in an arc, so I made new wheel lips and welded them back onto the ¼ panels. The front fenders had also been radius-ed in an arc and also had Daytona scoops installed at some time, then removed; which left big holes with lousy patches, so I got another pair of fenders. I made a total of 17 patches to repair all of the rust and previous “customization” that had been performed by previous owners. I painted the engine bay then put the motor & trans back in, so it could move under it’s own power.

Then life got in the way. I got married, my son was born, we moved (locally) several times, then we started migrating west again. My wife was from Northern California, so we ended up in Sacramento. Jump forward 3 years & at least 3 moves and the car still looked as sad as it had for the past decade or so. I was working lots of hours and my marriage, which had never been strong, was faltering quickly. One day my wife said (and I quote): “Why don’t you sell that green piece-of-shit, you’re never going to finish it”. That was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. After I filed for divorce, I put all other projects aside so I could finish my Charger. It took 2 years, but it was worth it.

In 2000, I took the car to every car show I could and even one parade. Then one day, something terrible happened – someone keyed my car while it was parked. I was devastated but I knew I could fix it. It took 6 long weeks (and lots of crying in between), but I slowly blended out the scratch, re-primed the areas, touched up the paint, wet sanded it, and buffed it all out.

I parked my car in a friend’s garage while I was working on his Challenger convertible in my garage. I ended up selling my green Charger on Ebay in 2001. For a while, I kept track of it through future owners, but a few years ago it was sold again and I lost track of it.

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My high school car

Back in the early ’80s, I was looking around for my first car. I had a budget of $1,000 but did not want to spend all of it on a car. I looked at a ’68 GTX with a 440, 4 speed, dana rear, canary yellow with a tattered black vinyl roof and a tattered black bench seat interior. I ended up not buying that car because back then $400 was a ton of money for such a ragged out POS. (Stupid me) A few years later I saw a girl driving that car in traffic and she did not look happy to be rowing gears.

A girl I knew in junior high school had a white ’73 Charger that I tried to buy, but her dad would not allow the sale.

Then I found another ’73 Charger, in the local newspaper. It was gold with a gold interior, power windows, and was in pretty good condition, considering it had 95,000 miles (which was a lot of miles for an 8 year old car). The guy wanted $1,000 but I talked him down to $800, which left me just enough money for DMV fees and plenty of gas money.

Soon after buying it, the timing chain jumped. I was broke so my parents and a buddy chipped in to get me a Direct Connection cam & lifter kit plus a new timing chain.

Then I learned the hard way that doing neutral gear drops into Drive is a good way to blow up your transmission. Not once, but twice. (I was a slow learner)

I did not take any auto shop classes in high school, but I did take machine shop classes at the local community college. I bought a running ’67 Fury for $75 (yes, SEVENTY FIVE bucks) and used the engine as my class project engine.

I rebuilt the engine completely, then got a 4 speed trans and a Pistol Grip shifter. Both of these went into my Charger and eventually it also got a 3.55 8 ¾ rear.

I started scavenging around for as many factory options that I could find (Power Bulge hood with hood pins, hide-away headlights, tilt-column, 6 way seat, luggage rack, recordable tape deck, power antenna, and shot gun exhaust tips with cut-out rear valence panel.

A few years later, I stripped the car down, went through the engine again and gave it a stock paint job.

Went to the track once but could not hook up with street tires.

I also made a custom trailer hitch and several times used the Charger to pull a load or trailer.

Not once, but twice I drove the car cross-country. Yes, that’s a ’69 Hemi Road Runner being TOWED across country!

I used the car as my “wedding get-away car”, although my first marriage did not last as long as the car did. (Yes, I was that dork)

I tried to sell it, but back in the late ’80s the 3rd generation Charger body was not popular. I ended up trading the car straight across for a ’69 Super Bee. But that’s another story…..

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White is the new gold

Writing a coherent post does not come easily to me and this will probably be one of those times…. I have, at any moment, several dozen posts that I have started, yet not finished; mostly because I got side-tracked doing something else. Call it “ADHD” or call it “mentally unorganized”; maybe it’s just how I am. But sometimes you just have to power through the brain-blockage and put words in print, just to tie up those mental “loose ends” that seem to be bouncing around inside your head. This is one of those times.

I started this post on Friday the 13th (March, 2020), and by then the Corona-virus pandemic scare had quickly ramped up. Toilet paper is non-existent on the store shelves, which means white is now the new gold. How long this artificial shortage will last is currently unknown.

But it’s not just TP that’s in short supply, it’s all sorts of fresh food, cleaning supplies, paper goods, canned food and so much more. Empty shelves resemble a garden that’s been mowed down by a pack of hungry rabbits, stopping at almost nothing.

Individuals can be very smart. People in groups can be very stupid. Panic buying by shoppers in a country with a capitalistic economy is proof positive of that.

Panics like this have happened before. I remember sitting in line with my dad, to buy gas in the early 1970s, because the prices had jumped overnight from $0.25/gallon to $0.45/gallon. There were actual shortages because OPEC had slowed their production, and there were long lines to buy fuel. Unlike today’s panic-driven buying frenzy because people *think* they are going to run out.

Historically, there have been many instances of panic buying. Tulip-mania is my favorite. If you’ve never heard of it, you really need to click this link and read about it.

It’s nice to see that sites like Ebay & Amazon have blocked profiteers who are trying to sell their stash of TP for huge $$. Nothing like big business telling the little guy to stay out of their territory. But those are main-stream sales outlets and I’m willing to guess that there are some folks who will make clandestine purchases in dark alleys, because that’s what people do when they are (seemingly) backed into a corner. Panic buying is the consumers version of “fight or flight”, and entrepreneurs love it.

The War of the Worlds radio program in 1938 was another good example of people panicking, though buying goods in large quantities was not the main issue. But it does show how easily the human mind can be fooled.

So in conclusion, what can be done to combat panic buying? Be prepared beforehand by stocking up slowly, not by rushing out and cleaning out the stores before the rest of us get there. Save up for a rainy day, right? Hopefully tomorrow won’t be raining locusts…..

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One too many zeros

It’s amazing to see so many people asking such exorbitant prices for old cars. It’s even more amazing to think that someone else is willing to pay that much money. Seriously, $7800 for a slant-6 ’73 Dart? Drop a zero off the price and you’ll be close to what it’s really worth. You want it adjusted for inflation? Drop a zero and double the remainder; then we’ll talk.

And it’s not just old cars that cost an arm & a leg. When did $80 worth of groceries fit in 2 bags? It’s just me and my wife living at home and we average $1000 per MONTH for groceries. And we’re not eating lobster & steak every night, either!

Rent on a house now costs as much as a mortgage? Neither one is an affordable living solution. Living in a van down by the river is looking like a good idea.

And now that the corona virus scare has ramped up to full swing, the price of hand sanitizer, soap, and toilet paper has gone crazy. Really people?!?!?! I’m supposing you’ve never heard of “Tulip Mania“.

THIS is how inflation sneaks into your life and your wallet, one small step here, one tiny bite there; until you can’t afford to pay attention – because you’re too damn busy just trying to tread water, barely keeping from financially drowning on a daily basis.

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The car that got me hooked

Today’s story is about the car that got me hooked on Mopars.

I had learned to drive a stick shift when I was 11 years old, putting my parent’s almost new 1972 VW Van around our 3 acre property. Fast forward a few years and we had moved twice, this time downsizing to an apartment complex. One of my older sisters (Kitty) was dating a guy (Kurt) who had a blue ’70 Road Runner, 383 4 speed, black interior with a bench seat. (Similar to this picture) At that time it was just another 10 year old used car.


One day, my younger sister (Janie) said she wanted a ride up to the 7-11 to get some sodas. I was 15 and had a learner’s permit, so Kurt tossed me the keys to his car and told me to give it a spin. It was only 1 mile away and most of the drive was through the apartment complex and up a side road. What could go wrong?

I slowly drove the car taking the frontage road and then I sat in the car with it idling while my younger sister went in the store. There was 2 older guys standing next to a 396 Chevelle and they were looking at me, probably trying to figure out his this “kid” got a hot car. My sister came back out and sat in the car, holding a Big Gulp in each hand. I slowly turned the car around, but instead of going back up the frontage road, I decided to pull out onto the main road. There is a stop light just to my right and the road slopes down a slight hill from the left. It was tough waiting for a break in traffic and my left leg was shaking, trying to hold down the Zoom 3600 pound clutch. Finally there was an opening in traffic, and I tried to ease out onto the street, but my leg gave out and the clutch slammed all the way up. I heard the engine start to stumble and drop RPMs, so I gave it some gas…… too much gas, because we burned tires out of the parking lot and all the way up the street. If that wasn’t enough excitement, we were on the wrong side of the line, heading towards a green Pinto. I jerked the car to the right, into the correct lane, then quickly slammed 2nd gear. I don’t know if the left motor mount was broken before we started this journey, but it was definitely broken at this point, because the long Pistol Grip shifter jumped hard to the right, and since I was still holding it, my fist punched my sister in the arm. Soda went flying around the inside of the car and we made a quick left turn on the side street to head back to the apartments. We pulled back into the same parking space we had previously left and Kurt was there, smoking a cigarette. He asked me “How was it?” and I stammered back “Fri-fri-FRIGHTENING!”.

That was my first Mopar experience and after that, I new I had to have one for my high school ride.

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