Over the past year, we have documented the buildup of not one, but two, spectacular project cars here at Mopar Muscle. One was the Holley Road Runner, which was the epitome of radical street engineering in a stock shell. The other is the 1969 Charger R/T seen here, which was put together by Mike Paremsky with help from The Paddock and other aftermarket suppliers.
Unlike the Plymouth, this Dodge would be the ultimate in "resto-stock modified." While that might sound like a contradiction in terms, it isn't. Mike's ride would maintain a close resemblance to an as-built 440 Magnum '69 Charger R/T, from the rare armrest bucket seat/column shift layout to the Magnum wheels, until one starts looking closer. There is a lot more to this machine than first meets the eye.
Mike, who owns Michael's Auto Body in Winter Haven, Florida, and has restored many cars, actually began this project inadvertently. He had purchased his first Mopar by buying what looked like a very solid 38,000-mile car, but the truth was told as he went over it back at his shop. The rear quarters required replacement to eliminate Bondo, but other areas of structural weakness became evident as the car came apart. As a result, Mike ended up doing the equivalent of a ground-up restoration, and Mopar Muscle readers got a series of rebuild stories beginning in the April 2000 issue. With the help of The Paddock for parts, Mike skillfully applied new sheetmetal to the car, and the undercarriage and front suspension were detailed. Mopar Performance supplied the new torsion bars and leaf springs, and a 1.125-inch front sway bar was added to inhibit body roll. Meanwhile, attention shifted to the slightly tired but unabused drivetrain.
The 440 Magnum went to Bob Little at Regional Performance Machine in Haines City, Florida, where the package came apart and was treated to a hi-po rebuild. After machine work, the short-block received .030-over 10.0:1 compression pistons, ARP rod bolts, resized rods, and an MP street cam.
On top, the 906 heads were replaced by a set of cast-iron Stage V Max Wedge heads from Mopar, with an MP M1 dual-plane intake capping off the engine. Concours Creations supplied an exact replacement Carter AVS and a new air cleaner came from the Paddock, while Mopar Performance valve covers were used to dress up the package. Painted just like the original factory engine, there is little to belie the engine's beefed-up internals other than the intake, tti headers, valve covers, and the electronic ignition. The crowning touch under the hood was the small aftermarket air compressor outfit from Classic Auto Air.
Meanwhile, the 727 Torqueflite was treated to a full rebuild by Tony Hutchinson of Winter Haven, Florida, and the 831/44-inch SureGrip rearend hosts a highway-friendly 3.23 ring. Rounding it all out were a set of 15x7 (front) and 15x8 (rear) wide Magnum 500 rims from The Paddock shod in quality BFGoodrich rubber. To ensure the car stops as well as it goes, Stainless Steel Brakes was called for a full, four-wheel disc-conversion outfit, while Tokico USA was responsible for the shocks.
Inside, the stock Charger interior needed little to be brought into shape, but Mike decided he liked white better than the car's original red interior, so a set of covers and carpet came from Legendary Interiors though The Paddock. One thing Mike did want was a quality stereo outfit, which was supplied courtesy of Custom Auto Sound in the form of their Secretaudio outfit. This mounted above the original AM radio in the dash, and is coupled to a 6-disc CD changer in the rear of the trunk.
Of course, as a body man, Mike himself took the most pride in the paint. After the body was stripped down by Orlando, Florida's Blast Off, Inc., a deep sheen of Sikkens Flame Red paint covered the replaced panels (the car was originally R6), and The Paddock supplied a new white vinyl top to replace the original. With help from The Paddock and Tony's Auto Parts in Delaware, Mike was also able to detail the car with quality original and replacement trim items.
"I built this car as a driver, and it's fun to drive, with the new air conditioning and all," says Mike. "I wouldn't tackle another project like this one, but it draws a lot of attention on both the street and at shows. The Charger is my favorite Mopar, and I'm happy with how it turned out in the end."
In the past, Mike has owned Chevy Corvettes and Shelby Mustangs, and he spends his weekends racing in 8-second dragsters. However, when he talks about his favorite, the Charger comes to mind first. A perfect balance between the world of concours restoration and street practicality, we would have to agree that it is indeed the best of both worlds.