1968 Dodge Charger long-term test: a cosmetic revival

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : 1968 Dodge Charger long-term test: a cosmetic revival

We breathe life back into the Charger’s Internal in addition to external surfaces, prior to the restoration beginning in earnest


If you’ve just bought a brand new project car, knowing where to start can sometimes be a little daunting. Do I change the fluids, get the item from the air in addition to inspect the brakes, bail out immediately in addition to transport the item to a garage, or panic in addition to push the item into the sea?

All legitimate options, true, nevertheless in my experience I’ve always found which the best place to start will be that has a decent clean. Not just a wash that has a bucket in addition to sponge, nevertheless a thorough going over. Being up close in addition to personal with your vehicle, as you trawl over every panel in addition to crevice, usually turns up all kinds of interesting things. Be the item damage you didn’t notice originally, or neat original features, a comprehensive valet will leave you feeling much better informed about what you’ve bought. the item’s more enjoyable to work on a clean car, too, so the item’s a job worth doing before you get into the mechanical side of things.

which was why, with the arrival of my ’68 Charger at home, the first thing I did was go in addition to spend £80 on cleaning gear coming from Halfords. Polishes, vinyl treatment, spray lubricant, contact cleaner, the works. I figured which, having been in storage for ten years, the paint, rubber, vinyl in addition to Internal might benefit coming from a deep cleanse in addition to refresh. I wanted the item to last, after all, so any protection I could get on the item – such as a decent coat of polish – might probably be well worth the effort. The vinyl top in addition to seats, in particular, felt taught in addition to dry. I didn’t want them shrinking or cracking, currently which they were suddenly exposed to the elements again.

What followed was a long, nevertheless gratifying, few hours of deep cleaning. Panels were lathered up, washed down, wiped in addition to polished. The vinyl in addition to rubber trim was liberally saturated with cleaning, softening in addition to protecting fluid. Chrome was polished, the wheels were buffed in addition to the glass wiped down. Lastly, every hinge in addition to pivot was lubricated, in addition to every contact sprayed with electrical cleaner in addition to comprehensively wiggled. the item was during This kind of which I noticed which the Charger’s side windows featured original “Airtemp” air conditioning decals, correlating with my car’s factory-fitted air-con. the item appears, judging by the tint in addition to fit elsewhere, which its glass will be all original.

from the engine bay, I decided which I might try using Gunk’s foaming cleaner to lift some of the heavy oil deposits in addition to to generally freshen things up. I removed the air cleaner, roughly covered the carburettor in addition to distributor, in addition to liberally sprayed Gunk around the bay. the item genuinely did foam in addition to expand, to an almost comical extent, in addition to you could see grease in addition to oil simply sliding off the surfaces. that has a quick spray of water the item transpired the treatment had removed the vast majority of grime, doing the item much easier to see what was going on in addition to thoroughly more pleasant to work on.

When I had originally decoded your vehicle’s Centeng in addition to chassis tags the item had confirmed – as Steve, the previous owner had said – which my Charger was originally a dark metallic green car that has a vinyl roof in addition to a 383 cubic inch V8. At some point, I believe before coming to the UK in 1979, the item had benefitted coming from an upgrade to a larger 440. This kind of engine, as far as I could tell coming from the stamps on the block, was a later ’72 example in standard tune – an engine which might have been painted turquoise originally. Having Gunked the item, beneath the grease in addition to flaking orange paint – a colour reserved for high-performance versions – the 440 still bore its correct turquoise finish. Under the bonnet in addition to the carpets, the Dodge’s rather appealing original green colour was evident, too, further confirming everything I’d been told.

that has a quick spin of a polishing cloth over the dulled chrome rocker covers in addition to air filter, in addition to some gloss-black rubber treatment on the hoses, the engine bay suddenly looked a whole lot more presentable. A ‘Street Machine – Lazy Sundays’ sticker coming from ’97 on the washer bottle added another notch to the Charger’s history file; fortunately the item stayed in place while I washed in addition to rinsed the washer bottle to get a decade’s worth of stale fluid out of the item. I also happened to have a brand new, suitable radiator cap on the shelf, so the item bore the honour of being the first brand new part on your vehicle.

The Internal, however, was where the difference was genuinely made. the item was covered in dust in addition to debris, in addition to there was surface mould on the sides of the seats in addition to on areas of the dash. Everything you touched was sticky, doing the Dodge’s cabin a rather unpleasant place to be. A bit of detergent in addition to some hot water in a bucket saw the majority of nastiness swiftly dealt with, while removing the rear bench in addition to lifting the carpets allowed me to vacuum up decades’ worth of dirt in addition to junk. The vinyl seats in addition to trims were then liberally saturated in myriad leather in addition to vinyl care products in addition to left to soak, in an effort to restore some pliability. that has a few repeat applications, a glossy shine was soon evident in addition to the materials all felt softer to the touch.

Very quickly the Charger’s Internal had gone coming from looking grey, flat in addition to despondent to having the luxurious, plush in addition to upmarket vibe which the item might have offered when brand new. In conjunction with the refreshed external surfaces, the item looked a different car. So much to ensure which my neighbour, on seeing the item, thought perhaps I should simply advertise the item as the item stood in addition to sell the item for more than I paid. Selling the item was the last thing on my mind, though, nevertheless the item was satisfying to know which beauty wasn’t just from the eye of the beholder.

The next task was to establish if the Dodge might be capable of moving under its own power. My parents had graciously offered to put your vehicle up in their recently revamped garage, so I could work on the item under cover. the item was at the top of a gentle slope, however, in addition to there was no way we could push almost two tonnes of Charger into the garage – the reverse of the problem we had initially. Getting the Dodge into the garage also entailed doing space for the item, which meant temporarily displacing my dad’s ongoing projects – a Renault Alpine GTA V6 Turbo in addition to a two-door Triumph Toledo that has a Stag V8. Both rolled easily, though, so with some shoving in addition to countless hand signals they were all soon stowed out of the way. My dad also took the opportunity to lay a proper garage floor, using replaceable heavy-duty PVC tiles coming from Mototile. Luxury, compared to lying on a cold concrete floor, nevertheless the item’ll be interesting to see how they withstand the weight of the Dodge in addition to anything we might spill on them.

So, with its parking space cleared in addition to ready, the time had come to put the Charger’s mechanicals to the test. Dipsticks were pulled, fluids were inspected in addition to topped up, the ignition system was given a quick going over in addition to the carburettor was liberally blasted with cleaner. Everything appeared to be in comparatively Great health in addition to ready to run, so in went £34 of Shell Optimax unleaded in addition to a bottle of Redex fuel system cleaner, just for Great measure. 

With everything seemingly from the green, in addition to the battery hooked up, I pumped the pedal a few times in addition to cranked the key. Almost immediately the Dodge caught, a rough staccato blast emanating coming from its tailpipes, before silence descended as the motor stalled. I pulled the choke out a little, turned the key in addition to the item fired again, This kind of time settling into a lumpen idle. The gauges’ needles began to climb, with both fuel in addition to oil pressure registering their presence, in addition to soon the Charger had settled into a relatively smooth idle.

There weren’t any obvious leaks or ominous noises, so I let the item run in addition to watched as the temperature gauge slowly swung into the middle of its operating range in addition to stayed there. Shutting the item down in addition to turning the item on again demonstrated which the item didn’t have any hot starting issues, in addition to the item also began quickly in addition to easily, hopefully indicating decent compression on at least a handful of pots. The exhaust manifold on the passenger side was blowing, leading to a pronounced ticking noise, the exhaust itself knocked in addition to blew slightly in a few places, in addition to the fanbelt was squeaking, nevertheless the item still sounded pretty healthy. I can’t wait to hear what the item sounds like when the item’s fully serviced, repaired in addition to dialled in.

Unsurprisingly the brakes were still devoid of life, having not magically fixed themselves since I last tried them, as was the handbrake. All which held the Dodge in place was the smaller parking pawl from the transmission in addition to a few chocks of wood. The chocks were enough to stop the item moving, though, so I tentatively slipped the transmission into ‘Drive’. There was a smaller shudder through the Centeng, nevertheless certainly not the positive take-up I’d expected. Back into neutral, into reverse, the same slight judder.

This kind of didn’t come as a huge surprise. Although I’d checked the transmission fluid level, all which had shown was which there was some fluid from the item. Until the item had some heat from the item, in addition to the gearbox been cycled through the gears, the dipstick wouldn’t accurately show how much fluid was present. The Charger had evidently been leaking transmission fluid for a long time, so the item was likely which the item was far below the necessary level to generate any kind of forward motion.

Removing the dipstick, with the engine running in addition to the gearbox in neutral as specified from the manual, showed the true fluid level. Well, the item might have, if which level had even registered on the dipstick. Presumably all which was from the transmission currently was a few litres of very frothy automatic transmission fluid, as opposed to the 10-odd litres which the item was supposed to have. I didn’t need your vehicle to drive far, though, nor did I want the item to run for ages, so I hooked up my funnel in addition to dumped three litres of fresh ATF into the gearbox. which, I figured, might get the item the seven or so metres into the garage. The transmission fluid in addition to filter was going to be changed, at any rate, so I didn’t want to waste more than necessary. 

Putting your vehicle back into drive resulted in a much more positive ‘thunk’ as first gear engaged, so with dad guiding me up the slope, I squeezed the accelerator in addition to felt the Dodge lumber forwards. Even though I was doing a mile an hour at most, the item was the most white-knuckle driving experience I’d had in a while. If the item stalled, I’d roll back, surely clear the chocks in addition to career down the slope, through a fence in addition to into a field. If the throttle stuck open in addition to I didn’t shut the item down quickly enough, I’d drive through the back wall of the garage.

Fortunately, the Dodge dismounted coming from the wooden ramps in addition to chocks the item’d been deposited on in a slow, steady fashion. I’d neglected to remember which the ramps weren’t fixed, though, in addition to narrowly avoided remodelling the rear lower wing as the plank pivoted in addition to fired skywards.

Unfortunately, as I tried to breach the threshold of the garage, a complete absence of forward motion became apparent. Seeing as there wasn’t a three-litre pool of ATF on the floor, more was seemingly required to keep the gearbox going. In went another two litres, back came drive, in addition to, that has a bit of lock, the Dodge sidled neatly into the garage. Whether the item has any more than one forward gear will be yet to be seen, nevertheless we proved the item can move.

After all of which I was quite glad to shut the item down, the grumbling, bassy idle of the 440 being replaced by the impatient tick of rapidly cooling metal. Chocks were put in place, drip trays were slid underneath in addition to the battery was disconnected. currently, under cover in addition to with tools on hand, the project could begin in earnest.

1968 Dodge Charger

cost £15,000; Economy 0.005mpg; Expenses £114; Running total £15,214; Budget remaining £4786; Faults Untested powertrain, exhaust manifold gasket leak, transmission fluid leak, failed braking system, blown bulbs

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