The '70 model year arrived at a major turning point for America's muscle car industry. The drumbeat for increased vehicle safety, lower emissions, and similarly lower insurance rates had grown significantly louder during the previous couple of years, and by 1970, the willingness of the general automotive consumer to succumb to the vicarious charms of a muscle car had waned considerably.
A case in point is Rene Delisle's '70 Charger R/T.Rene, of Black Lake, Quebec, Canada, has been a Mopar fan since 1960. In 1971, Rene stumbled across this blue with white top Hemi Charger sporting Special Edition trim. The car was residing in a local garage with only 18,000 miles on the odometer. In addition to the Hemi V8, the Charger was replete with such luxury amenities as power windows, power steering, power disc brakes, and an AM/8-track sound system with rear speakers. The SE package further upped the luxury ante with its leather insert bucket seats, simulated walnut steering wheel and instrument panel, light group, chrome pedal trim, door map pockets, and deep dish wheel covers. This particular car also boasted a 727 automatic tranny backed by a 3.23 Sure Grip-equipped rearend.
When Rene first spotted the Charger, naturally his heart yearned to set it in his own driveway, but money-that bane of many a young muscle car enthusiast- prevented him from immediately taking the title.
For the next eight months, Rene hung in the background as one potential buyer after another contemplated taking the Charger home. Unfortunately for the seller, there were no takers. Run-of-the-mill tire-kickers who found the Charger aesthetically and ergonomically pleasing balked at the heavy-hitting, gas-guzzling 426ci Hemi monster under the hood. The more enlightened prospective buyers-those with a need for speed and with drag race action on the brain-were understandably attracted to the Hemi powerplant, but didn't care for all the extra baggage, or luxury amenities, that came with car. All of this, it ended up, served Rene's purposes quite nicely. With the dealer unable to sell the Charger at his desired asking price, Rene made his move and successfully haggled for a bottom dollar he could afford. In January 1972, the waiting was over and the dream fulfilled.
The Charger turned out to be the perfect family car for Rene...and then some. Aside from performing summer family shuttle duties, the R/T pulled occasional stints on area drag strips between grocery runs. Later, Rene says, his wife drove the car to work for quite a while, and by 1982 the Charger had racked up 122,000 miles. That would prove to be the last of the Hemi's care-free summers. The following year Rene pulled his freshly-restored '70 Hemi Challenger convertible out of the bay and placed the Charger on the restoration docket. After selling the Challenger to the Otis Chandler Museum a few years later, the work began.
The restoration involved completely disassembling the Charger, freshening up the good stuff, and replacing the bad when needed. Following the necessary bodywork by Delisle DeBosselage et Peinture, Rene's youngest brother applied a fresh coat of the original blue paint. The car was then pieced back together to its OEM form just in time for the '98 Labor Day weekend. Rene says that the entire process was made fairly easy due to the fact that the Charger was in such good shape to begin with.
Now in its original form, Rene's Hemi has given up family car duties in favor of the cruising and show scene. And rarely has a muscle car been so suited for the purpose. With a rowdy V8 and smoothed-around-the-edges luxury appointments, this Special Edition Charger R/T Hemi is "just right" no matter what's on the menu.