Our story begins in 1968 at the Hamtramck Chrysler plant. An order came down the line for a '68 Charger, complete with TT1 Light Metallic Green paint, bright wheel mouldings, hubcaps, and a vinyl top. The engine would be a 230hp 318 with a 904 tranny backing it up. Finishing out the powertrain would be an 831/44 rear with 2.76 gears. It was a true pedestrian car, to say the least. The interior would feature dark green pleated-vinyl, AM radio, bucket seats, and a console. on February 6, 1968 it rolled off the assembly line and was shipped to Midway Dodge in St. Paul, Minnesota. Allen and Linda Hetland of Roseville, Minnesota, purchased it as family transportation, and it was their first new car. According to Linda, the couple paid $3,400 for the car. after many years of regular duty, they sold it to a neighbor, who planned to fix it up. Eventually, the neighbor sold it to a young girl.
Enter Michael Beatty of Grand Haven, Michigan. He located the car while perusing a local car trader magazine in the winter of 1991. He had always wanted a Charger, and the timing seemed right. When Mike found it, Mark and Michelle Mahwold of Eau Claire, Wisconsin owned it. The couple had just completed a cosmetic restoration and were selling it to purchase a house. It was British Racing Green with a black vinyl top and mag wheels. The engine sported an aluminum intake and four-barrel carb.
Michael and his fiance Melissa purchased the car on March 17, 1992 in Eau Claire, and drove it to their home in Chicago. At the time, Michael was a Seaman in the US Coast Guard and on his first tour of duty. The couple stopped in Chicago only long enough to pack a few things and drop off their daily driver on the way to Erie, Pennsylvania, where they were married on March 21. Michael jokes how he bought the car just before Melissa could officially say no. After the honeymoon, they drove the Charger back to Chicago. The Charger spent its days outside the newlyweds' apartment complex, falling victim to bird target practice and an attempted break-in with a coat hanger that tore the weather stripping and scratched the glass.
In April 1992, Opel Automotive Engineering in Streamwood, Illinois, rebuilt the engine. The original block was treated to a .030-inch overbore, the requisite bearings, and a fresh cam. April 1993 brought Michael a career promotion and an accompanying transfer. The couple moved to Grand Haven, Michigan, and, except for an occasional weekend drive, the car sat in their apartment complex's garage for another two years. Time and neglect began to take its toll; cracks appeared on the quarter-panels just behind the door as a result of body flex and an improper previous repair. Mike felt it was time to do something with the car, and the couple decided to fix it up. Melissa actually became the car's biggest supporter (and still is, according to Mike). Sure, it may not be powered by the more sought after 440, nonetheless, the couple decided on a full-blown restoration.
In their search for someone to help with the restoration, they found Scott VanCura of VanCura's Classic Restoration. While waiting his turn at Scott's, Michael was busy dismantling and documenting the Charger. The first wrench was turned on January 28, 1995, and disassembly was completed April 2, 1995. The rolling chassis was then delivered to VanCura's shop, where it stayed for roughly 16 months. A trip to the media blaster revealed what was in store for the Charger. According to Mike, "The floorpans were swiss cheese, and the quarters looked like John Dillinger had let loose with a Tommy gun." A donor car was purchased, and the rockers and front subframe were scavenged. New quarters and floorpans were ordered, while Scott and his assistant Tony Ferguson kept cutting out the bad metal. When they were finished cutting, the front and rear halves of the Charger were held together only by the A pillars and the braces they had welded in to keep it from folding in half.