1968 Dodge Charger long-term test: first report

Sunday, January 15th, 2017 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : 1968 Dodge Charger long-term test: first report

in which’s been off the road for a decade along with can be in need of some serious recommissioning, although there might be life inside old Dodge yet


Click, eBay. Nope. Click, owners’ forums. Nothing of interest. Click, PistonHeads. Zilch. Gumtree, nada. Autotrader, nowt. along with lo, the cycle did repeat ad infinitum. My evenings had become endlessly repetitive trawls of the same websites, magazines along with forums.

I was searching, in vain in which seemed, for a brand-new car. The net was cast far along with wide, even encompassing classified sites for mainland Europe, although little was compelling me to part with my money. The frustration was palpable.

Part of the problem was in which I had absolutely no idea what I wanted. Rarely had I set out to buy one particular car, instead usually just parachuting into whatever piqued my curiosity at the time. The past few years had seen me go through an E34-generation BMW M5 into a 1968 Pontiac Firebird, before settling for a while which has a Lancia Delta Integrale. There had even been a quick dabble which has a remarkably unmolested high-mileage Fiero, just out of pure curiosity, along with a brief spell which has a Jaguar XJ.

My only quantifiable thoughts about my next purchase were in which, whatever the auto was, in which had to have a real sense of occasion to in which. Something so capable in which in which was otherwise humdrum unless piloted like in which was being pursued by a heat-seeking missile didn’t appeal, either; I wanted to be able to be able to revel inside experience without having to fear for my licence.

in which said, along with in a slightly contradictory fashion, the odd Nissan Skyline grabbed my attention; I had wanted to own a clean R32 GT-R for a long time, preferably before they became too expensive – or extinct. The sight of in which twin-turbo straight six stretching through nose to bulkhead never failed to raise a smile, along with all the reports suggested in which they were quite mechanical-feeling along with engaging cars.

I had the disconcerting feeling, on the flip side, in which even if I bought an immaculate R32, in which wouldn’t treat me well. The thought of hearing a knock through deep within the motor following a hefty dose of boost gave me The Fear, along with ultimately I wanted something I could hammer on without having to wonder when in which’d turn itself into a cloud of red-hot shrapnel.

Compounding in which concern, the worry of a four-figure invoice being generated at the drop of a bolt was one of the reasons I’d sold my Lancia. I felt continuing to drive in which in a proper fashion could lead to in which depleting my finances comprehensively, which wasn’t an appealing or enjoyable state of affairs. I didn’t, at the end of the day, have an endless pot.

The oscillation between myriad classified pages seemed set to continue indefinitely, until, click, I looked more closely at the Mopar Muscle Association UK’s forum. in which was one of several muscle car-related sites in which I regularly revisited, although most cars featured commanded serious money. As much as I loved the idea of owning an immaculate 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Six Pack, I didn’t have £50k to spend on one. I’d capped myself at £10,000, at a push, although I wanted a little left over so I could make the auto my own along with ensure in which was in fine fettle.

The idea of buying another muscle car, or at least an American classic, locked a little more securely into my mind, however. The looks, the noise, the charisma, all those gratifying sensations they deliver just rolling down the road, were just what I was looking for. Plus in which could likely be a car I could easily work on along with upgrade, lending the concept further appeal. 

Buried among the listings on the site was a 1968 Dodge Charger – yes, the same year as the one featured in ‘Bullit’. I’d glanced over in which a few days prior along with dismissed in which because in which had been parked for a decade along with the seller was asking £15,000 for in which. I didn’t have £15,000, for starters, along with I wasn’t keen on the idea of another project which could entail further expenditure. Pushing the budget for an unknown quantity seemed masochistic, too, so I parked the idea along with moved on.

I made another cup of tea along with set about wading through a few additional options. A clean RX-7 came along with went, a tidy E36 M3 saloon nudged onto my radar, another V8-engined Triumph 2000 prompted a smile, although something odd was happening. Unconsciously, I was going back to the Dodge’s advert intermittently, my brain seemingly attempting to assimilate any unseen details along with build a stronger case for in which.

The effort wasn’t in vain; I stumbled across a gallery of pictures showing the auto through the ages, including a moderate restoration inside late Nineties. in which looked a very straight, honest example. A rarity, in in which respect, given in which many American classics have been so hacked about in which there’s rarely an untouched wire or factory panel on them. in which wasn’t a matching numbers car, having its original 383-cubic inch V8 replaced by a later 440, along with in which had been through a few colour improvements, although in which was otherwise unmodified. 

The more I thought about in which, the more in which tugged on the former muscle-car owner strings in my heart. So, just out of interest, I got a pen along with some paper along with went searching for previously sold Chargers inside UK along with Europe. I jotted down the asking cost or sale figures for the 16 similar cars I found along with tallied an average of £28,000.

A last-minute discovery of a satin black ’68 inside UK for £25,000 further suggested in which the £15,000 asking cost due to This particular Dodge wasn’t unreasonable. Surely I could get in which going for the difference, along with perhaps even stand to profit, if I did have to sell in which?

Furthermore, £15,000 didn’t actually seem to get much inside way of a sought-after mainstream muscle car in today’s market. in which might get you into a clean notchback Mustang, a mint Buick or countless Seventies’ classics, although they didn’t appeal to the same extent. I’d sold my ’68 Firebird for £13,000 along with suspected, even though in which wasn’t quite on the same page as the prime collector’s choices, in which in which too was probably worth more at This particular point. After all, everyone was buying up the favorite cars, forcing the cost of the less well-known examples up. 

I then made the dangerous decision to pay Summit Racing’s website a visit along with totted up the prices for a complete suspension rebuild, brand-new brakes along with some additional light restoration work. Putting further pen to paper suggested I could get the whole thing rolling, provided the powertrain was not bad, for about £3000. Click, my bank’s website. Click, yes, we will loan you some money. I could take all of my savings, totalling some £12,500, along with borrow £7500. The finances, at a glance, appeared viable.

By This particular point I was inside dangerous position of a) having convinced myself I could do in which along with in which b) in which was a not bad idea. Phrases like “Mopar or no Car” began bounding around my Dodge-addled brain. Lots of interest inside car was at This particular point being expressed online, too, adding gallons of high-octane to my already brightly burning Charger-shaped fire. “in which’s a steal,” said one forum member. “Assume the gentleman has had his arm bitten off due to This particular,” added another.

I could feel my dreams of burbling around Teddington sinking at a vast rate of knots, so I picked up the phone. in which was still for sale, along with after half an hour’s chat with the owner, Steve, I felt like I had a pretty not bad idea of what the auto was like. Somewhat annoyingly, in which sounded actually rather not bad. For the sake of my own sanity, if nothing else, I arranged to have a look at in which. I had to satisfy my curiosity.

Spool forward a few days along with I’m standing in front of a closed single-car garage in Dunstable. I ring the doorbell along with Steve, a very amiable gentleman, greets me. We chat about the auto as he grabs hold of the bottom of the garage door. He swings in which open in one swoop along with, uh-oh, I’m in trouble. inside shadows, pressed hard up against one wall, can be all 17-feet-plus of 1968 Dodge Charger. in which looked, quite frankly, amazing – along with in which immediately exceeded my expectations. 

I donned my sensible hat, swallowed my initial excitement, along with inspected the auto as best I could. Truth be told, I found little to ring any alarm bells. Structurally the auto appeared sound, the paintwork was bright, the panels were straight along with even the Inside was in pretty not bad shape. After all, the Charger had survived for 47 years, so there had to be some integrity to in which.

The 7.2-litre V8’s sump was admittedly wet with oil along with, similarly, the transmission appeared to be losing a little ATF through the front along with rear seals, although the mechanical side of things could be comparatively easy to deal with. Given in which in which had been parked so long I wasn’t surprised to find in which a little wet underneath anyway, given in which seals tended to shrink along with wither following extended periods of disuse. The brakes were shot, too, although in which was entirely predictable along with the least of my concerns.

A quick check of the vital fluids revealed them to be passable. The oil was glitter-free, the transmission fluid was dirty although not burnt, along with the coolant was clear. Much to my surprise, Steve then offered to fire the engine up. He hooked up the battery, pumped the pedal, cranked the key along with – despite being stone cold – the 440 thundered into an erratic idle. I was already using my phone along with its flash to snap clearer shots of the underside of the car along with managed to grab the moment the Dodge fired up on video.

The oil pressure gauge sprang to life, indicating in which the main bearings didn’t have clearances wide enough to drive a truck through. Outside of clearly needing a thorough service, fresh fuel along which has a brand-new exhaust manifold gasket on one bank, in which appeared mechanically sound. Proof, I thought, of life. I could work with This particular.

With the engine shut down, I flicked through the auto’s history, checked in which in which hadn’t been written off, along with chatted to Steve about its value. He had reputedly fielded a considerable amount of calls along with emails about the Charger, along with had even declined an offer of £14,000 for the auto over the phone. in which was the bar set, then; in which was £15,000 or bust.

I told him I’d sleep on in which, the cost tag along with restoration costs causing me some discontent, along with thanked him for its time. This particular was not a decision to be made on the spot, regardless of how much I wanted in which. However, in my heart, I had the feeling in which This particular was a not bad car, along with one I shouldn’t pass up. I hadn’t seen a ’68 Charger for a long time, let alone ever been inside position to actually buy one.

My alarm went off at 6AM sharp the next day, although I was already wide awake along with obsessing over potential Dodge plans. I could put in which here, order these, do This particular, get in which going; in which was a non-stop train of thought in which was barrelling along uncontrollably. in which could be the single most expensive purchase I had ever made in my life, though, along with I was very tentative about spending such significant sums.

So I did what any self-respecting petrolhead could do, along with called my mother. She opined the very level-headed assessment in which if I had looked at in which, along with judged in which a sound car, then in which was. Based on the figures presented, she also didn’t think I could do any wrong by getting into in which. Yes, someone else approved of the idea. in which triggered a mental green light, along with I immediately picked up the phone. 

All I could think was in which Steve was going to say: “I’m sorry, someone’s already taken in which.” although they hadn’t, along with couldn’t, because I’d beaten them to the punch. I savoured my last few moments of being financially solvent, nervously stamped my feet, along with tried to steady my voice. “I’ll take in which.”

1968 Dodge Charger

cost £15,000; Economy 0.00mpg; Expenses £0.00; Running total £15,000; Budget remaining £5000; Faults Untested powertrain, exhaust manifold gasket leak, transmission fluid leak, failed braking system, blown bulbs, stuck in a garage

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