You see, like us, Chris Rogers has more cars than he knows what to do witha few are parts donors, but most are projects with big plans ahead of them. For now, though, theyre stuck waiting their turn until time and funds are available. Yet even though Chris has more than a couple of cars scheduled to be built, and more than a few engines in various stages of machining or rebuilding, he still cant resist bringing home a stray Mopar when he comes across a screaming deal. Sell off something else to make room for it? Never! Thats why we relate to him, and thats why it scares us.
With all those cars demanding Chris time, money, and attention, it stands to reason that a budget build was the way to go for this daily driver. Nothing fancy, nothing rarejust solid, daily transportation, with more style than a minivan. The choice was a fairly solid 72 Charger that had been languishing in an airplane hangar for 10 years. The usual suspects were taken into accountsome bodywork, paint, an engine rebuild, suspension attention, and all the other items a 25-year-old car requires before its roadworthy. But Chris is a hands-on kind of guy and dove right in.
The cars original 400-cid engine was tired, so Chris went to his stash and dropped in a stock 440-6 long-block he pulled from a tragic 71 Charger R/T. With the exception of a mild cam, iron 4-bbl intake, and Carter carb replacing the Six Pack, the engine was left alone.
Its a daily driverit was done to drive every day, so it had to be simple and reliable, Chris tells us.
The 727 trans was left alone, as were the open 8¼ rearend and 2.92 gears. When the budget allows, a beefier rearend and Sure Grip will find their way under the quarters, but until then, its not broke, so Chris isnt fixing it. (Hmmm, there might be a lesson there for us
Chris had a set of stock exhaust manifolds taking up space on a shelf, as most of us do, so they were installed in place of headers, which he didnt have on hand and didnt see the need to buy. The mufflers are classic Cherry Bomb glass packs, providing a sound only nostalgia could duplicate. He deleted all the trim he could in order to give the exterior a much cleaner look. Every piece of trim I didnt need was removedaround the headlights, all four wheel openings; there was even a piece on the back edge of the hood! Chris says.
What remained (driprail mouldings and front and rear glass trim), he polished himself. A replacement rear bumper was obtained from a parts car, but rather than spend money on replating, it was sandblasted and painted black along with the last foot of the car. Its a modified Bumble Bee stripe thats simple, effective, and kept costs way down. The exhaust dumps out in front of the rear wheels, which sort of completes the NASCAR theme, though the car wasnt built with that look in mind.
The wheels are Americans I got at a swap meet, brand-new, for $35 each, and the tires were a holiday bonus from my boss, Chris explains. Cheap and free gave the B-Body a NASCAR look by default, which was just fine with Chris. The paint was handled by Chris friends, Mike Watson and Chris Coleman, who applied the Viper Arrest Me Red, with the Power Bulge sprayed black to match the aforementioned tail treatment.
Daily use demands a few creature comforts, so the factory power steering and brakes were retained. The car originally came equipped with air conditioning, which will be reinstalled eventually, but until then Chris finds the 4-60 system sufficient (four windows down at 60 mph). The original interior was cleaned up, with a Just Dashes-restored dashpad, a Year One carpet, and a Craig CD changer being the only other additions.
Chris tells us he has way less than five grand in the whole car, and while it may never win First Place at the Nationals, the joy of driving it every day far outweighs any trophy. He says he couldnt have finished the car if it werent for his friends, Bill Humphreys and Gary Kucharski, who gave him the motivation to get it done; Bill Melvin for a lot of parts; Steven Edwards, who showed me how to do it; and most of all, his wife and mom, well, just because.
But, heres the suspicious part: Chris actually built the car for his wifeIts really her car; she just lets me drive it, he explains. He says hes still working the bugs out and getting it trouble-free before turning over the keys to her, and the best way to do that is by driving it to and from work every day. Thats a sound idea, but its been on the road for a couple of years now, and its never given him any problems.
Still, you can never be too careful.