The year is 1989. John Lammers of Ontario, Canada, is returning home from his daily commute to Rochester, New York. On this particular Monday, Lammers decides to veer off I-190 and drive a more relaxed Route 20 to sample the small towns of rural New York on a pleasant summer day.
John is not looking for Mopars, but out of the corner of his eye he spots a black Charger parked on a car lot in Darien, New York. He parks his truck and walks over to the '69 Dodge. It looks different from a regular Charger-the grille appears odd, as does the back window, but what really catches his eye is a big Hemi badge on the door.
Although he doesn't know it at the time, John has run across one of the rarest and most desirable Mopar muscle cars ever built-a Hemi Charger 500. It has a mere 1,270 miles on its odometer.
Lammers pops the hood and stares at the marvelous engine. He figures this car must come from somewhere down south because there is no rust anywhere. Lost in wonderment, he wakes up to a deep-throated yell from the other end of the car lot: "Never mind looking at that car. That car is not for sale."
John continues to ogle the engine compartment. He can't take his eyes off the 426 Hemi. Speedy Greco hustles closer, still talking. "You've never even seen a car like this before."
John has to admit to himself the man is right. He has always liked Mopars, but this is the very first Charger 500 he has ever seen. The voice continues to distract Lammers. "Look at that serial number. Look! You've never seen such a serial number like that before. It starts with XX."
John looks down at the trim tag for the XX. "That's Chrysler's designation for their altered cars for the NASCAR circuit."
John is getting an education he hadn't asked for. Speedy continues, saying the car has been sold to a famous athlete who collects muscle cars. "He also bought the Superbird inside. I'm just about finished restoring it for him."
John figures this big man is one of those salesmen who likes to "shovel off the lines." It didn't matter if what was being said was the truth anyway, because John really wasn't out to buy a car. He just thought the Charger was incredible. He closed the hood, got in his truck, and drove home.
Trouble is, once home, he was so intrigued, he had to find out more about that 20-year-old Hemi car. What was it, exactly?
Reading every Mopar book he could buy, John found out Dodge was supposed to build 500 Chargers to homologate its aerodynamic features for the track. That's why the car had looked so odd to him. Dodge pulled the regular grille and replaced it with one from a '68 Coronet, which fit flush with the front end. In the back, they custom-built a window to meet the rear pillars, also for a more slippery shape. This custom fit required body work and a shortened trunk lid with relocated hinges. They stopped production at 392 and went to work on an even more aerodynamic Charger, the winged Daytona.
Full of this kind of information, John had to see the car again, even if it was sold. Every Monday, he took Route 20 home from Rochester and stopped at Speedy's lot. Speedy didn't mind John inspecting the Charger. He could crawl inside, open the hood, look, and touch. He inspected the lack of wear on the foot pedals. John noticed how the ignition key fit and how the doors closed like they were new. He crawled underneath the body to see how it was undercoated and to view fascinating like-new parts, such as the OEM exhaust system.
For the next two months, he got to know the car very well, but even more importantly, he got to know Speedy. Every Monday, the two would drink coffee and talk about Mopars. They became great friends. Speedy, John found out, was as honest a man as he had ever met. He was a real car person and loved Mopars.
Likewise, Speedy learned how much John cared about the black '69 Charger 500. One day John came into the shop yelling, "Speedy, Speedy! Get me a towel. There's water in the trunk."