|'69 pro-Touring Charger|
Arruzza-built 525-inch hemi
There's a lot to like about the '69 Charger. It was one of the best-selling Chargers ever, and has become an icon and sought-after car for devoted Mopar fans.
But there's always room for improvement, as Angelo Munk set out to prove on the '69 he built for Steve Parks in his McKinleyville, California, shop.
It didn't start out quite as radical looking as you see here. It was built as a 318-powered grocery-getter with an automatic transmission, manual steering, and drum brakes, like so many other non-R/T Chargers that year. When Angelo got it, it didn't even come with that much as far as options. "When we got it, a body shop had stripped and acid-dipped it, and it was sitting on a lift without a fastener on it," he recalls.
That's what you call one nude Unitbody, but it was the ideal starting point for the build that Angelo and Steve had in mind.
Starting with that bare shell, which he hauled back to his Munk Race Fab shop, Angelo (aided by Doug Harnden and his metal-fabrication and metalworking skills, and Jed Hess' all-around assistance) added custom 2x2 subframe connectors, reinforced mounts for the torsion bars, leaf springs, and seats, and then had every removable piece underneath powdercoated. Up front, a Brewers-modified K-member with a quick-ratio power-steering box went in, as did '71 Challenger front spindles and P.S.T. torsion bars. When it came time to set up the back of the Charger, Eaton springs with six leafs for the left side of the car, and seven on the right were mated to a narrowed Dana 60 carrying 3.54 Richmond gears. Finishing out the rear suspension is a set of Cal-Trac bars. Both ends sport KYB shocks and custom sway bar mounts, as well as 13-inch Baer Sport-Track disc brakes.
That's serious hardware, worthy of a serious powertrain. A charger is a big car, so Steven got a serious engine for his charger: a 525-inch, John Arruzza-built Hemi. "Steve had purchased the engine previous to me getting involved with the project," Angelo says, "but we're really happy with John's work."
Yes, that's a John Arruzza-built, 525-inch Hemi with Stage V heads and intake and two 600
Underneath the aluminum Stage V heads are Ross-forged 10:1 pistons on Eagle 7.100-inch rods. A JP Performance Billet timing chain and a Comp cam with .544-inch lift and .246-degrees of duration at .050-inch lift work the valve gear from Crower and Smith Brothers...is that serious enough for you? It's topped with a dual-quad Stage V intake wearing a pair of modified 600 Holleys and a custom-fabbed air cleaner. An MSD Pro Billet distributor with a 6AL box set up with 35 degrees of total timing sparks it off; a Mopar Performance oiling system keeps the lifeblood flowing; tti headers and Flowmaster Super 40s handle the exhalation. Backing that Hemi is a Center Force dual-friction clutch covered by a Lakewood steel scatter shield, bolted to a Brewers-built A-833 four-speed with a Pistol Grip shifter.
With a powertrain like that, this car isn't too subtle. But subtlety is what Angelo likes to build into his projects . . . and this one is a prime example. Looking at the body you would think it's a stocker. But according to Angelo, "When I was first getting involved with the car, Steve had studied quite a bit of the Chrysler archives and found that Bill Brownlie really wanted to add dual fuel fillers, but he didn't get it past the bigwigs. It's said the clay models in the Chrysler Museum actually have dual fuel fillers on them." Both Steve and Angelo liked the concept , so Angelo went ahead with that non-too-easy task. "It was a lot of work sectioning the fuel tank, the trunk pan, and the quarter-panel," he says.
After Angelo got the sheetmetal in perfect form, he picked Kevin Bradley's Kreations Auto Body shop in nearby Rio Dell, California, to apply the black paint and red bumblebee stripe and HEMI hood graphics.
Inside and out, subtlety reigns . . . such as it is in a Charger. "A lot of [guys] don't realize the amount of stuff that's been done," says Angelo. "That's because I strive to make everything subtle. It's got a radical amount of modifications, but they're all subtle." That also includes the reshaped bumpers, valances, parking lights, backup lights, and sequential taillights.
The seats are from a '70 Charger SE, and there's a restored Rallye gauge cluster in the dash. A Vintage Air Super Cooler handles the A/C duties, and mobile entertainment-accompanying the sounds of the Hemi-is handled by a JVC CD head unit and Alpine speakers. Angelo says of the other cabin features, "It's got more electric courtesy things than a new $50,000 Lexus!" That means it's fully loaded: electric windows, eight-way seats, cruise, A/C, rear defrost, electric antenna, custom-fabbed electric-heated mirrors-the works.
With all those convenience items and performance hardware, do you really think a car like this is going to be driven other than on and off trailers? Yes! "Steve has every intention of driving the wheels off it," says Angelo.