Summer of 1987 and I had just bought my ’71 Charger R/T (the green one). A friend of mine had a forest green ’69 Charger and I wanted one too (but not a forest green one). One day he called me up and asked if I wanted to buy a ’69 Charger. I replied “Hell Yea! Are you selling yours?” He said he was not, but there was one for sale in the Recycler ads. We drove out to look at the car and the entire time I was quietly thinking “Oh please, any color besides green“. We got there and guess what? It was RED with a white top, white interior, and white stripe!
The owner was an old guy who had bought the car new in late 1968. He originally wanted $1000 but his son (who was maybe early 30s) had convinced his dad to list it for $300. My buddy & I looked the car over and it was pretty sad. It had 72,350 miles, most of the glass had been shot out with a BB gun, the radiator was missing, the interior was trashed and the body was showing some rust on the outside. We popped the trunk and saw a complete trunk liner, which I lifted and revealed a terribly rusted trunk floor. There was another pair of young guys who were also looking at the car and I told them “Hey, I just bought a Charger a month ago and I don’t need another project. If you want the car, just say so and I’ll walk away.” One of them turned to me and said (in a surfer voice) “Naw doode, this it too much work fer us!” and they walked away.
So there I was, looking at the car and chit-chatting with the owner’s son. I told him it was in very bad condition and it was worth about….. (thinking to myself “How much money do I have in my checking account right now?) ….. $175. He said he wasn’t sure if his dad would accept such a low offer but I told him to present it; the worst he could do was to turn me down. The next day the son called me and said he car was mine….. and did I want the 318 Duster too (for free). I bought the Charger and my buddy got the Duster for his troubles.
V8W END J25 L31 M21 M31 R11 V1W A04 B51 C16 C55 G15 G33 R4 C6W W1 829 085381 E86 D32 XS29 L9B 116944
I needed lots of parts so once again my buddy came through by finding a running ’69 Charger S/E 318 parts car for $150…. and guess what – it was forest green. I drove the car home and started stripping it for all of the major components that I needed.
Over the next 6 months I did a mad-dash restoration, combining the best of 2 cars into one. Every night after work and every weekend I was working on it, hoping to make it to Spring Fling 1988. I got some decent used interior panels from a junked 383 Charger while I was visiting my parents in Virginia. It cost more to ship them than it did to initially buy them. A ton of Simple Green and lots of elbow grease and they were in presentable condition.
The original owner had lost the title, so I had a stack of papers to fill out to make DMV happy. I put a lawn chair in the car and drove it to the DMV office so I could get a VIN inspection. The lady there looked at the car and remarked “Fixing it up, I see“; and I replied “Yeah, figured I ought to get it in my name before I sunk any more money into it“.
I also needed to find the company that financed the car back in 1968 and have them sign off on it. An old registration card listed their address so I hopped on my motorcycle and took a day trip to their office. I showed the lady what I had and explained what I needed from them. The side wall of this office was a solid block of file cabinets. She looked on her computer, then went to the first row of cabinets, opened the first drawer and took out one of the first files. She blew the dust off and put the file on the counter. Turning through the paper, she said “This car was paid off in 1972!” so I asked her to fill out the DMV form, which she did. Another trip back to DMV and $48 later, I’ve got new stickers and it’s all mine.
I painted the car in the alley behind my apartment on an overcast February weekday. I had used 2 of my other cars to block off the alley on both sides so no one would drive by and kick up the dust. I bought a new vinyl top but never installed it. I left it in the truck, still in the box along with the roof trim.
I cleaned up the original rear seat and I ordered a pair of front seat covers from Year One. They ended up taking almost 6 months to make & ship the covers to me, so I was unable to take the car to Spring Fling.
In early 1989, I ended up moving out of SoCal and went back to Virginia. I used my ’71 Charger R/T and a tow dolley to move the ’69 Charger R/T cross-country. At one fuel stop (someplace in Tennessee, I think) I was approached by a guy who asked about my cars. He thought it was cool that one R/T was towing another R/T, then he pointed to his car that was at one of the other gas pumps – it was a red ’70 Charger R/T. Unfortunately, neither of us had a camera at the time.
In September 1989, I traded the car plus some cash for an orange 1971 Charger R/T. The guy I was going to swap with lived in Alabama, so we decided to meet 1/2 way, in Knoxville, Tenn. My neighbor and I spent much of the evening before buffing the car because I had never done that after the paint job. In Knoxville, the guy test drove my car (with me as passenger), then I test drove his car (with him as passenger). My (now ex-)wife stayed with the car that wasn’t being driven. We made the swap and drove our separate ways back home.
Once in a while I see the car pop up on Ebay. It’s been bounced around on the east coast from various owners to flippers and back again. The last time it was listed as “an example of an unmolested California car”. Oh how little do they know…..