JULY 17, 2014: IS A ’68 CHARGER REALLY A SURVIVOR WHEN IT BECOMES A PLATFORM FOR A ROCK STAR’S WHIMS?

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One of my nephews is a religious reader of Mopar magazines so he gives me a stack of them whenever they start taking up too much room.

 

I appreciate the offer because these magazines are kind of pricey in today’s world where the difference between the Canadian and US price is about the same as the down payment on a new Jeep.

 

That’s why I’m glad he picks up the tab on these various Mopar magazines.

 

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One of these unnamed Mopar magazines did a piece about a survivor 1968 Dodge Charger. I love these stories because survivor cars have built-in cool based on their ability to survive time, brutal owners and new technology that renders them hopelessly obsolete and expendable.

 

This was a particularly good story because ’68 Chargers rarely survived the Swinging Sixties in survivor form. ‘68 Chargers were used up, beat up, burned up and trashed in ways that make the ending of the Bullitt chase look positively tranquil.

 

That’s why this ’68 Charger was a freak of nature. The elderly owner and her late husband bought the car brand new a week after returning their brand new ’67 Charger to the dealer after some serious electrical issues. The new Charger had just come out so this ’68 was one of the earliest to hit the showroom floor.

 

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This was a 318 car with some odd options because it was built to show customers what the new Charger looked like so the visual was more important than the build sheet. The couple loved this car and quit driving it in the winter a few years later.

 

This car had more documentation than the OJ Simpson trial because the woman’s husband was a very precise guy so every new fan belt, hose, oil change and tune up was documented in a notebook.

 

They even kept another notebook that explained the negotiation numbers in the deal for the ’68 Charger with the ’67 as a trade-in.

 

Needless to say, they kept every piece of paper like invoices, warranty and build sheet. The now widowed owner met some guy by chance who builds and flips classic Mopars for a living and he made an offer on the car.

 

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She took a few months to consider it but eventually she sold the car to the guys who “made a fair offer based on 2009 prices” – according to the magazine.

 

A scant few days later this guy flipped the car to a member of a rock group that was famous about ten years ago. Apparently the rock star plans to change the color, dump the 318 and stuff a big block in it…among other things.

 

The survivor part took up three quarters of the article so that was clearly the hook for readers but the last 25% of it is what bothered me.

 

The guy who flipped Mopars for a living clearly misled the widow about his intentions with the Charger because he skipped the part where he was going to sell it to a rock star a few days later.

 

He also skipped the part where the 318 engine that was so lovingly and painstakingly maintained was going to get yanked like a bad wisdom tooth.

The Mopar magazine saw the Mopar curber and the rock star as heroes but I see them as opportunistic bottom feeders. There is no reason why this survivor ’68 Charger should have been turned into a non-survivor on a whim.

 

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I’m guessing they never drove the new rock star version of this beloved Charger past the widow’s house because it would represent nothing to her except a mutant version of what she and her husband bought back in 1967.

 

The Mopar magazine that covered this fiasco was free, thanks to my nephew but the haunting story in it came with a price.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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