Anyone who has fully restored a Mopar from stem to stern, top to bottom, can appreciate the hard work and serious financial commitment involved with such a wide-reaching project. Taking the restoration thing one step further are those enthusiasts who rebuild their cars to OE Certified specifications.
Here the task is not only to restore, but to restore to exacting "factory-delivered" standards using date-coded NOS components and duplicating the factory assembly methods and markings. It is a job accepted by only the most dedicated or well-heeled Mopar fans, and one who's reward is not measured by a balance sheet, but by the satisfaction of a job well-done and the admiration of fellow aficionados.
The OE restoration of Jeff Stickels' '70 Charger R/T is not a tale of a financially endowed enthusiast paying top professionals big bucks to turn around a points champion in short order. Instead, it is a story of how a young boy developed an appreciation, then a devotion, to a family car-who as a teenager spent nearly all of his grocery store wages on obtaining NOS parts, and eventually produced an OE Certified restoration that is now one of the best examples of its breed in the country.
The tale begins on October 8, 1969, when 27 year-old David Stickels made an on-the-spot purchase of a '70 Charger R/T. The two-door hardtop sported a Forest Green Metallic topcoat, an unusual Gator Grain vinyl top, and an equally uncommon Ledger Green bumblebee stripe. The car was powered by a 440 Magnum V8 backed by a 727 TorqueFlite tranny and an 831/44 Chrysler rearend sporting a 3.23 Sure-Grip differential.
David was originally shooting for a Hemi Orange '6911/42 six-barrel Road Runner four-speed, but his wife nixed that idea because she couldn't see over the black hood scoop. The next option was a '69 Charger 383, but the dealer wouldn't budge on his sticker price, so that plan also fell by the wayside. It was while driving home from work that David spied the Charger R/T sitting on the lot of Vissings Dodge in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The unusual color/stripe roof combination grabbed his attention and put the nail in the proverbial coffin. After the dealer markup and straight-sale discount, the Charger was purchased for $4,054.50, less than both of the '69 models under consideration.
Over the next eight years the Charger pulled family driving duty, and was the primary means for Mrs. Stickel getting to work. David, interestingly enough, preferred to drive his '64 Fury as daily transportation. In 1978, the Charger was parked indefinitely in favor of a new Olds Delta 88 that boasted better fuel economy, handling, and lower insurance premiums. It was about this time when son Jeff entered the picture.
"In 1979," says Jeff, "at the ripe old age of 12, I became interested in cars, and Chargers in particular. A new TV show hit the airways. The Dukes of Hazzard was somewhat of an influence. I watched the show every Friday night at 8 p.m. on CBS. I began to notice that 'General Lee' was quite similar to the car now parked in the driveway unlicensed. The car continued to sit, and I continued to tinker, stare, and admire the distinct Coke-bottle shape. I immediately fell in love with the car and the Dodge Charger. I still had vivid memories, as a younger child, of this piece of metal artwork, riding in the back seat and looking out the triangular-shaped quarter glass."
As he entered his teenage years, Jeff developed a growing obsession for the Charger. While his friends went crazy over early Mustangs and Chevelles, Jeff's eyes were drawn to the old car sitting idly by the house.
"April of '82 came and went," says Jeff, "and I was now a high school freshman. I cut grass in the summer to earn money which, you can guess, I spent on the Charger. My very first parts for the car were the roof emblems (NOS) which I bought at a local swap meet in 1982 for $10 a pair!"