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bbb' 1967 383 Charger

 
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 07 3:43 pm    Post subject: bbb' 1967 383 Charger Reply with quote

I wrote this up for Readers Rides on another site, I'm sure you've heard alot of this before but here it is in one place...

OK, here's my car, it's a 1967 Dodge Charger with a 383 big block and three speed auto. I bought it in June 2004 and it's been my only car ever since so gets used all the time. The car was bought new in San Francisco and ordered with optional power steering and air conditioning but not with power brakes (unfortunately). Little is known about the life of the car up until 2001 when it was living in Sacramento and bought by Dave Madders of California Classic Imports for import and sale in the UK. The White original paint was tatty and Dave knew a black Charger always sells better so gave it a repay and it was sold on to someone, known only as "the banker". Apparently this guy did not get on well with the car and had lots of problems with it leading to a full engine rebuild and rebore which cost him 3.5K, at this time the stock induction was replaced with an Edlebrock high performance intake and Holley carb.

Sometime during 2003 the car came into the hands of Dave Vincent on Haling Island. David went through the car fixing a few niggles like the heater and the light mechanisms at the front of the car. After redundancy Dave decided to let the Charger and his Dodge Monaco go and put them on to ebay for sale.

In June 2004 I was nearing the end of an exhausting contract at Heathrow and set about finding a job closer to home. I landed a job just a 10 minute bus ride or 40 minute walk away from home and realised that there was no point hanging on to my PT Cruiser that I'd bought for the Heathrow run everyday as it was depreciating faster than sales of Jade Goody's DVDs. I realised that this was the opportunity to realise my dream of owning a big old yank. I spent many hours on the net and phone and the weekend driving round the country looking at various cars and came very close the handing over the cash on a mustang but there were a few problems with it and it wasn't yet registered and with no off street parking this would cause me problems. The last trip of the weekend was down the Haling Island to see the Charger. Within the hour hands were shaken and the ebay auction was ended early. I had bought a Dodge Charger :eek:

Some friends and I had already got our tickets to the Le Mans Classic and the decision was taken to take the Dodge so I set about putting some miles on the clock to shake down any issues. Some security was fitted to the car to help the insurance premium in the right direction (although it was only 250). I joined the MMA (Mopar Muscle Association) as they were the most knowledgeable guys around and the club provides great support. The biggest problem with the car was the exhaust, it had Headman headers fitted at some point which were OK but the rest of the system was cobbled together and hung very low in the middle of the car. When a car is 18' long the last thing you need is something hanging down in the middle, we had to get on the Channel Tunnel and clearance is bad enough at the best of times. I booked the car into RSR Wheels and Tyres, Factory lane, Croydon and they built me a full stainless steel system as close to the car as possible, clearance and sound were vastly improved, the car now sounded more "tuned". The next issue was the electric motors in the lights; they gave up pretty quickly so the trip to Le Mans would be performed with the lights locked in the open position.

So off we went, four of us with all our camping equipment in comfort down to Le Mans via the tunnel. None of us knew just how much fuel we would use but we thought it would be a lot. I decided to open the car up on the way down to see what she would do, after all there was an estimated 350 horses under the hood and 450 ft-lb torque, the fastback aerodynamic styling and also enabled the hemi version to be the first car over 200mph in NASCAR. Well 120mph was reached with ease but we were running out of road thanks to an overtaking lorry, it was then that I realised the manual drums on a car this big travelling at this speed were no brakes at all :eek: I had wondered why the brake pedal was big enough to fit both feet on and now I knew, I had my whole body weight on the pedal and anyone who's met me will tell you that is not insignificant! The speedo slowly swung back to the left as all four of us held onto something, with the use of a chevron area we were able to escape any impact. I've never been over 90 in the car again and won't do until I can afford a disc conversion. There was another reason that these speeds were not a good idea and that was the fuel, this gauge had moved down much quicker than the speedo during our high speed escapades and before we got to Masion Blanche we had put nearly 200 in the tank.



Here's some more photos from the first year of ownership...















I really enjoyed the trip to Le Mans and couldn't believe the amount of attention the car got. When I got back I set about fixing some other issues with the car, firstly the lights needed fixing so they revolved through 180 degress again. I managed to get hold of two more motors but they turned out to be shot too luckily I have a great auto electrician near me who was able to take the four motors and build two good ones out of them!

The passenger seat was ripped so I ordered some new covers from legendary interiors in the states they are such a good match for the origonal that I didn't need to replace the rear seats.

I spent the rest of the year enjoying the car whenever I got chance and was starting to get used to the 50p a mile in fuel, after all no depreciation (the opposite hopefully) cheap insurance and no road tax to pay.

Early the next year the car was displayed at Alexadra Palace as part of the MMA club stand at Xtreme Wheels show and got lot's of attention, especially for a daily driver.



When I left the show I realised that the battery wasn't charging and I eventually ground to a halt right in the middle of Harringay high street. Luckily I was carrying a spare battery and made it to the relative safety of a MacDonalds car park while I waited for the flatbed to take me home. I ordered a new altenator from Paddock Parts in the US the next day (for about 35 shipped) and less than a week later I was back on the road.

I had prety much a trouble free motoring year from then forward and enjoyed going to lot's of shows and using it to get about.



















Start of 2006 saw the car going back to Xtreme Wheels and I wanted to give the car a new look and was inspired by the look of the 1st generation Charger NASCARs so I added some racing numbers and Dodge logos on the rear quarters. Also the whitewalls and steel wheels add to the retro racer look...

















...the car was also fitted with some KYB gas shocks from Summit Racing to stiffen up the ride a little (but nowhere near a european car) and had the steering box rebuilt. Handling was much improved. During the time I've owned the Charger my interest in Photography really took off and I've been lucky to work with a few magazines. I suggested a piece on the 40th anniversary of the Charger last year with my car and MMA member Derek Carter's '68. I never dreamed that the car would end up on the cover I was over the moon, espcially as it was my photos too Very Happy































Also during 2006 I took the car down the strip at Bug Jam. I was having a few problems with the heat. Best time was 17.49. Still I did have all my camping gear, barbeque etc on board Smile







The gear box decided to destroy itself in July 2006 after the fluid return pipe came off the cooler. Luckily Blue came to the rescuse and conducted a full rebuild, also fitting a quick shift kit at the same time.

2007 and time for a change again, the race numbers came off and new wheels. I have got 15" American Racing Hopsters. 7" with 255/60 up front and 8" with 275/60 out back. There were some clearance issues but nothing some fettling of the inner lip of the arch couldn't sort. Here's a pic from Wheels Day...



The car made a guest appearance in Loaded in April this year with Hollyoaks totty Gemma Atkinson...



Recently the radiator finally gave up on istself so had a recore and rebuild at Aaron Radiators in Croydon. Thanks to Derek for sorting this out for me Very Happy

So there you go three years with a Charger as a daily and it's only been on the back of a tow truck twice! Cool
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Ivor
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Joined: 18 Apr 2004
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Location: Near Bicester

1965 Plymouth Barracuda

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 07 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Superb! Great read Nick. thumbright
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JustinMFox



Joined: 03 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 07 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice, have you seen Big Fish?

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Rich



Joined: 18 Apr 2004
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Location: Marston...population <100

2000 Ford Other

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 07 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice car Nick,but I`m afraid the Gemma Atkinson shot has taken the limelight Very Happy Any watershed shots of her would be most appriciated Wink
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AllKiller



Joined: 04 Jun 2004
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1973 Plymouth Barracuda

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 07 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the one with the Sophie Ellis Bexter look alike Drool
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Anonymous
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 07 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

excellant photos nick thumbright
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Anonymous
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 07 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy

Here are the other two shots from Loaded...



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latil



Joined: 01 Feb 2005
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Location: Steve Pearson MMA/014. East Grinstead and Carmarthen.


PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 07 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great portfolio of a super Cool car. Is it the only early Charger over here?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 07 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JustinMFox wrote:
Nice, have you seen Big Fish?


Indeed, also an early Charger in ED TV Smile
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Anonymous
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 07 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

latil wrote:
Great portfolio of a super Cool car. Is it the only early Charger over here?


The ones I knwo about are:

1. Karen Marshall, same colour scheme as mine.
2. A light yellow one that seems to make it to a few shows.
3. A black with red interior project that someone here posted pics of in Cornwall.
4. A white project that sold on ebay.
5. Mine

That's it, anyone know of any more?
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RobTwin



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
Posts: 11388
Location: just north of Watford

1963 Dodge Polara

PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 07 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great write-up Nick thumbright

Isnt there a dark red / marroon one also? At least, there used to be.

Also, Al O'Connor (Super Gas Anglia) used to have one that was often up the Pod when he was racing. Could have long since disappeared dontknow

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Anonymous
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 07 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thansk Rob, not seen or heard of those.

I guess this was the most famous one...



From: http://www.aacint.com/lawman.asp

Quote:
Many of you I'm sure will be aware of the outstanding career of Al Ecksrand aka 'The Lawman' more especially fans of the Drag Racing scene both in the UK and USA. Al's illustrious career involved time with Chrysler & later Ford through their 'Boss Mustang.
"Lawman" history Part 1.
The Era when Elton "Al" Eckstrand was a TOUR DE FORCE in the sport of Drag Racing is unique in the annals of Detroit's Major Vehicle manufacturing history. Major manufacturers were actively involved in building performance machines for the American car buying public.

The weekend battles on the Drag Stripes & oval tracks of the nation were assisted by the big manufacturers to win new car customers, who wanted machinery that looked and, at times, actually performed, like those they watched in the competition sector. The birth of Chryslers now revered 426 inch Hemi head engine was a direct result of this effort. Reintroduced in 1964 as a purebred race engine, this 425 HP engine was created solely to bring in those "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" customers.

When the leadership of NASCAR banned the engine in 1965 and stated that all vehicles on the growing circuit had to be production -based, Chrysler spent the season raiding drag races nationwide. The following year they did the unthinkable and created an only slightly detuned version for the street. This not only made the engine legitimate for track use again, but also created a legend of street performance unequalled even to this day.

Al Eckstrand was part of this performance revolution but, after posting a career of race victories, the former Chrysler Corp Lawyer retired from his competion role in late 1965. The Sport was changing dramatically and, despite his love of performance, he recognised that the advent of the latest muscle cars could have an immense potential for disaster. This was especially true among the large number of American servicemen returning to civilian life after their tours of duty; these men were a growing statistic among the 50,000 fatalities on the highways at the time.

Working with upper management at Chrysler Eckstrand was given a 1966 Hemi Charger to use in a tour of US military bases in Europe. This unique machine was Dodge's first press-pool Charger, driven by the media in spring of 1966 prior to the cars formal into to the USA public. Like the street Hemi engine, the Charger was new for that year, featuring fastback styling and a performance orientation. Unlike virtually any other car, the example given to Al was never sold through a dealership & to date has never been titled.

The Press car, which left the Chrysler: Lynch road Assembly plant on April 1st of 1966, was flown to Europe, where Al began to do a series of driving demonstrations at race facilities on the continent. More importantly, he also began to present safe-driving courses to US military personnel stationed in Europe.

This car, together with others that Chrysler later presented for this programme, gave these men a primary and critical look at the high powered cars that were being created by Detroit's major manufacturers.

During the ensuing eight years, this program (supported by various corporations and the UAS Marine Corps) eventually went all the way to the Southeast Asian war theatre, where Al ands the USA Motor sports Association that he founded gave demonstrations to 250,000 outgoing soldiers.

After living in Europe for three decades, Al returned to the USA back in 1999, bringing the Dodge that started it all back with him. Although he could have been a major force as drag racing grew into the world-class sport it is today, his desire to pursue this new cause in 1966 was to benefit both the sport and the driving attitude of returning servicemen. This car, the original tribute to that effort, also marks the introduction of both the Charger & the Hemi 426 engine. As a result of its historical significance, the "Lawman" Charger was selected to join the collection of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills Michigan.
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phil442



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 07 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AllKiller wrote:
I like the one with the Sophie Ellis Bexter look alike Drool


Me too. love10

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