Michael Bichl was born into a Mopar family, and, like many of us, he fell in love with what he grew up with. Granted, a Slant Six Valiant is not exactly a high school dream car, but it did give Michael an opportunity to practice some of what he was learning in shop class.
He discovered that he liked working on cars, and he spent some time helping a couple of older kids in the neighborhood who were running '69 and '70 'Cudas. By his senior year, Michael was wrenching on his own '71 Road Runner that a year later yielded to a lightly modified '73 Dart.
After finishing trade school, he was itching to put some of his full-time salary into an E-Body of his own, but finding one in the early-'80s in the Midwest rust belt that he could afford proved to be a challenge. Eventually, a close friend stumbled upon a Dukes of Hazzard Orange '69 Charger R/T that Michael "had to look at" and (you already know where this is going) after one look, he bought the 440-powered TorqueFlite shifted North Carolina native for just $1,600.
Interior Year One supplied...
Interior Year One supplied a complete interior kit, while the tilt column and steering wheel came from Flaming River, and MCR hand-fabricated the cage. In place of the stock woodgrain-look console top, MCR wrapped the top panel with carbon fiber.....
Michael couldn't resist pulling the engine and drivetrain to give everything a good once over, and the result was six years of road trips, car shows, and low-14-second e.t.'s.
But what Mopar owner is ever really satisfied with their current power level? By 1989, Michael pulled the 440 again, this time with the intention of adding some cubic inches. But he had recently purchased a home, so the engine project had to wait for the finances to catch up again.
Well, thirteen years later, it was time to get serious about the Charger or let it go. Michael was starting to get the itch for an E-Body again, and he even looked at a few, but he thought, Why just trade one project for another? The body on his Charger was in very good condition, so he decided to restore it and build his ultimate dream R/T
....It's a slightly high-tech...
....It's a slightly high-tech look that really fits the personality of the car. AutoInstruments custom-colored the gauge needles to match the body color.
"My vision for the Charger was to have an original looking R/T from the outside, yet it needed to possess a better suspension with updated technology to create a better driving experience," says Michael. "For the heart of a street thumper, I was always sold on stroker motors, and I was missing the manual transmission that I had in my Dart years ago-I thought it would be fun to ditch the automatic."
So he looked for a shop that not only had very strong body and paint talents, but one that could handle his frame, suspension, drivetrain, and braking requirements. In the end, he chose Muscle Car Restorations in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
After being chemically-dipped, the Charger's unibody was deemed solid, but John at MCR thought it best to replace the quarters and the trunk floor, which also opened up the way to mini-tubbing the rear and moving the Eaton rear springs inboard to make plenty of room for 18x10-inch Torq Thrust II wheels wrapped in Nitto 555R 305/45R18 tires. The subframes were also connected, and MCR fabricated a rollcage that would keep the body nice and tight, keep the original interior intact, and not make it a hassle to get in and out of the car.
Muscle Motors' Mike Ware enlarged...
Muscle Motors' Mike Ware enlarged the original 440 to 493 cubic inches and then capped it off with Indy heads and intake and an 850 Speed Demon. Note that A/C, power steering, and brakes were not left out of the equation.
Michael's R/T was certainly no slug before, but even then, it could cause white-knuckle handling issues. Now that he was planning on about a 600hp big-block, Michael knew the stock suspension would always hold him back, so a Reilly Motorsports AlterKtion setup was installed with a power rack, along with a Flaming River tilt column, and four wheel discs by Baer and Master Power Brakes. Now he has confident control of the entire experience.
Still using his original 440 block, Muscle Motors' Mike Ware built 493 cubes of thumping Mopar that measured 599 hp and 623 lb-ft of torque on Premium pump gas using a Muscle Motors custom hydraulic cam, Indy heads, and dual-plane intake, fed by an 850-cfm Speed Demon. The full tti exhaust system includes two-inch coated headers and three-inch pipes out to a pair of Dynomax Super Turbos.