When it comes to classic and resto-modded Mopars, there’s influence beyond the Ma Mopar’s styling and engineering crews.
In the case of Robert Frost’s ’69 Dodge Charger SE R/T, that influence led him to take “the path less traveled,” to borrow a phrase from one of his namesake’s (poet Robert Frost) most famous works. “If it wasn’t for Sam Molina, we wouldn’t be enjoying this beautiful car,” says Robert. “He inspired me to think ‘outside the box.’”
Robert met Sam back in the early ’80s. That’s when Robert found an original 440/four-speed ’69 Charger SE R/T for sale. Robert bought it for $500, and took it to MoPower Masters in Denver. There, shop owner Tony Richard introduced Robert to Sam, a painter schooled by the “old pros” in creating custom paint schemes.
Robert had a plan -- a High Impact red from the early ’70s, with a white vinyl top and white interior. “Sam had a unique vision to take it to a higher level,” Robert recalls. “He asked me how I’d feel doing it in a Candy color. My response was, ‘What’s Candy?’ When he shot me a sample panel, I was hooked, and so the first transformation began.”
Created by legendary California painter Joe Bailon, Candy colors involve a silver or gold underbase, followed by multiple coats of color and lots of color sanding to get the desired effect.
“Back in the mid-’80s, most everyone restored their cars back to stock,” Robert adds. “Sam was ahead of his time. Nobody was doing anything like it in the ’80s or ’90s.”
Sam used 25 coats of House of Kolor’s Candy Apple Red, over a silver underbase. “In the sun, it’s an intense eye-popping blood red, and the translucent effect of Candy gives that deep forever look,” says Robert. “In the evening, it turns a rich Burgundy Cherry. The white vinyl top, white pearl bumblebee stripe and white leather upholstery coordinate to catch everyone’s eye.”
Completed in 1983, Robert cruised his candied Charger around Denver, entering it in its first show a few years later, an all-Mopar event at Bandimere Speedway, where it scored a best-in-class win. “During the show, my friend Phil Mocon suggested I enter the drag race event,” Robert recalls. “After some reservations out of concern for the paint, I entered the street competition. Four rounds later, I was hooked. From that point on, the car did double duty as a show/race car.”
With the name “Poetic Justice” (derived from his namesake and the “justice” the Charger handed out to Bowties and Blue Ovals), the Charger ran in the mid-15s. One year later, the 440 gave way to a Tony Richard-built 498-inch stroker Wedge, which dropped the e.t.’s into the mid-12s.
Unfortunately, while being driven home on DOT-legal race tires, a sudden rain storm on I-25 led to a spin that put the Charger into the freeway’s concrete median, crunching it from the roof aft. Robert then had the ’69 rebuilt, replacing everything in the rear body above the framerails. Thank Tom Hammack’s shop for the rear body laser straightening, and underhood sculpting.
Then, Denver-area custom painter John May replicated the Candy Apple Red color, and under the hood, Marshall Canafax -- noted for his custom murals and color schemes -- created a mural with a silver Pentastar, and a candy granite-into candy marble background.
The ’69’s third engine, a Tony Richard/Ray Barton collaboration built from a “siamesed” RB block into a 572-cubic-inch stroker, is good for 680 horsepower at the flywheel.
Interior: So what if white leather wasn’t an original ’69 Charger SE trim choice. Iverta
Under the hood: A Six Pack-style hoodscoop will mean this eye-grabbing mural will have to
Engine: A joint creation of Tony Richard and Ray Barton, this Wedge is the third engine t
When we caught up with Robert and his Charger, another change was in store. “I spent quite a bit of time with Mike Ware at Muscle Motors’ booth at the Mopar Nationals,” says Robert, “and we’re looking at a stroker Hemi, or a new version of the 572.”
The ’69’s hood will get a molded-in Six Pack-style scoop by Tom Hammack, who’ll also fabricate a custom air cleaner from another Six Pack scoop. “From a performance standpoint, that will allow fresh air induction for racing down the track,” says Robert. “It will allow for more intake options, and allow heat to escape as it’s generated.” Once the scoop is on, the underhood mural -- which heat had caused to bubble -- will be re-done.
If you’re considering a Mopar project, Robert says your choice of tires is crucial. “Don’t drive with ‘street slicks’ on it,” he says. “Even though they’re DOT-legal, you don’t want to be riding on them on the street, if there’s any kind of moisture.”
Robert’s Charger is a rolling tribute to Sam Molina, who passed away last year after a battle with cancer. Says Robert. “Sam will be forever remembered for his artful masterpieces on his canvas of metal, but more importantly, as someone who everyone loved and respected.”
’69 Dodge Charger SE R/T
Owned by: Robert Frost, Ridgway, Colorado
|Engine: An original 440 Magnum car, it now sports a Tony Richard/Ray Barton-built, 572-inch RB with Brodix heads, 11.3:0 compression JE pistons, MSD 6AL ignition, Hooker “Super Comp” headers, and a Mopar M-1 intake topped by a 1,040-cfm Holley 4150.
|Transmission: Tony Richard built the 727 with a 9-inch/3,000-stall Dynamic torque converter, a shift kit, and the factory console shifter.
|Rear: Dana 60 with 35-spline axles and 4.11 gears.
|Suspension: Restored original ’69 Charger R/T (Front) Heavy-duty torsion bars, PST polyurethane bushings, and QA1 shocks (Rear) Mopar “Super Stock” leaf springs and QA1 shocks.
|Brakes: ’79 Chrysler New Yorker 11-inch front discs and ’69 Charger R/T rear drums, power-assisted.
|Wheels/Tires: Center Line “Convo Pro” wheels (15x6 inches in front, 15x10 inches in back) wear Hoosier’s 195/70R15s in front and 295/50R15s in back.
|Paint/Body: Original all-steel ’69 Charger unibody had its engine bay smoothed, and rusted/damaged rear sheetmetal replaced, before Sam Molina applied the House of Kolor Candy Apple Red over a silver underbase. Later, John May and Tom Hammack expertly repaired the Charger’s rear body and candy finish. Underhood mural created by Marshall Canafax.
|Interior: Restored, but color-changed to white leather (not an original ’69 Charger SE interior trim selection), by Iverta Richard. American Autoweave supplied the seat covers, and Auto Custom Carpets supplied the front and rear carpets. Sound system is by Kenwood, and the wood steering wheel is by Lecarra.