Tuesday, November 24, 2015

1973 Dodge Charger: Designs on a Mopar dream that hits the muscle car heart strings

Black and white 340 equipped 1973 Dodge Charger has been customized with 1972 model hideaway headlights.

Dodge my heart. When someone says, “Coke bottle,” they usually mean a popular bottle of carbonated soda synonymous with dining and refreshment. They don’t intend to make me think of Dodge Chargers, when they say that, because they didn’t say the word “design,” although that is what I hear in my head…
  ”Coke bottle design.” 
  I am not sure if that was even a Mopar-condoned phrase? However, it was dangerously close to encroaching on copyright infringement.

Dirty, barn fresh cars look cool, especially Mopars painted black.
This black and white 1973 go-getter was an oddly optioned 340 engine car with the bulged hood I love so much.

340 engine option, console DOdge Charger.
The 340 engine, with bucket seats and a console, was a step above the standard 318 and column shift base model. I find it odd that this Charger had the options, but was not an S.E. I actually made an offer on this one, so keep your fingers and toes crossed for me! I want this Dodge Charger car.


Shaped like a dream
  Maybe, it is my own fault for spreading the phrase like a mantra of sorts? Having purposefully not done any research on the origin, I wish to throw this out there as food-for-car-guy-thought. I bet the first time anyone stood behind the new for 1968 Dodge Charger and saw the lines and curves of that body, the phrase was born. Parenthetically, I do believe it was more than that. I think using the Coke’s packaging as an adjective was a nice way of putting it. This was downright curvy like Jeannie’s bottle. Really more like Jeannie herself. What attracts us to the lines of that car? What makes women envious of Dodge’s design victory of 1968? Put it together, people. Come on. 
  Okay, I will say it. The 1968 Dodge Charger… she’s kinda hot. 
  

In the blood
  My grandfather was a Dodge guy. He bought a 1974 Charger S.E off the showroom floor. But, it wasn’t all his idea. My grandmother had to have the car. It wasn’t a four door. She didn’t care. It didn’t get great fuel mileage. She didn’t care. It did however have a V-8, strikingly red paint and a black vinyl top. For that, she cared. So, then along came me... and I cared too. That is why I have a soft spot for this era Charger 1971-to-1974. I love them. The “Coke bottle” inspiration, from the 1968-1970 models, remains.


This 1973 Charger caught me off guard. If you are thinking 1972 model because of the hidden head lamp option. We are both right! It is a 1973 Charger with 1972 issue head lights!

Make room for a Mopar
  On a recent photo shoot we found the Mopar stash of a lifetime. I could not help but burn up my camera and part of Jody’s. Why do we do this to each other? I knew I wasn’t looking for another project to take residence here at the Junkyard Life shop, or at our Top Secret Undisclosed Storage Facility. We have plenty of things to do! Including, find a place for a few Chargers that I wanted:


This banana-flavored 1974 Charger was probably an OSHA approved color. You cannot claim to not have seen this one coming. This one, although still not an S.E, was a great find.

I imagine the Yellow (Y1 or is it lime?) Charger with a few subtle flat black pin stripes to break up the lime a little.

This 1972 Charger was really in the weeds. I declared this point. “Boys, I’m going in!” So I did. I Indiana Jonesed my way to what I think may have been a Rallye Charger.

I bled a little to get this ’72 interior photo. But, it paid off when I discovered the bucket seats and console package. Score!

Remember that Junkyard Life story where we found a yearbook photo of a Charger S.E from a Birmingham area high school and wondered about the availability of the giant sunroof? Well, we found one! This 1973 or 1974 Charger answered roll call today. Check this out... an S.E (note the slotted side glass) and a... wait for it...


Gigantic Sunroof! Thank you, Dodge! I bet this car was amazing fun and I hope it will be a fun ride again, someday soon.

A Rallye stripe adorned one of the many Dodge Chargers in the brush.

Climbing over and through thick patches of thorns was required to get a closer look at most of the Mopars.

This 1969 Dodge Charger sports a luggage rack, a factory option I celebrate now. Why? Because the rack was a factory equipment and people hated them, thus removing them or not paying money for them, in the first place. Luggage racks were a family-car-thing-oriented-option that many felt did not belong on a Charger. So, if it was uncool then, Junkyard Life loves them now. Don’t even get us started on station wagons. With this “Coke bottle design” (there is that phrase again) it is hard to imagine anything on a 1969 Charger that is uncool. This picture does not properly convey the lines and contours of this body. Wow.

Dodge dreaming
Thanks for reading along on our Charger fantasy. Hopefully, these complete examples will be back on the road again soon. If I have anything to do with it, that black 1973 Charger will be mine. Oh yes. Mine! Did you ever imagine the JYL guys in a Mopar? Well, we have been fantasizing about it all day!

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life




Ron Kidd’s Dodge Charger Fun Facts: 
  1. The first Chargers introduced in 1966 are rumored to be an answer to the “pony” car craze. The mucho sales dominating Ford Mustang was offered in a popular Fastback body style. A Mustang is a wild fast horse. What could outrun or at least outclass a Mustang? Another horse of higher reform and pedigree perhaps? Something royal, and powerful, usually ridden by knights? The embodiment of literary equestrian transportation*? The fine Arab Chargerhence, the Dodge Charger was born.
  2. Chargers were introduced as “leaders in the Dodge rebellion” I say mainly because the designers were fraught with doubting Thomases telling them the fastback design was not going to work with the public. Oh, they were so wrong. 
  3. “Look at it from where you may, you won't find an ungainly or awkward aspect — proof of the Dodge Charger's superiority in styling." — Motor Trend, January 1966. (One of many Charger facts found on chargersourceguide.com)
  4. Ron’s Grandmother overheard some stuffy, affluent woman saying the name of her car, and from that point forward, she would only say the words, “Charger,” by slightly turning her head, half-closing her eyes and mocking the woman. “Chaaarjah”
  5. Dodge continued the Charger nameplate for a few years with a body style change for 1975. They were basically a Chrysler Cordoba with Charger emblems. They did, however, have a time period of weird interiors adorned with shag carpet and plaid upholstery. Things went from bad to worse. Carroll Shelby attempted to wake up the nameplate during the mid 1980’s. He built a way cool Dodge Daytona Shelby version with stripes and a high winding 2.2 litre 4-cylinder engine. Fun, yes, but many argued it should not have been dubbed with the sacred Charger nomenclature.

* Editor’s note: Never before have we used the phrase, “The embodiment of literary equestrian transportation,” and we probably never will again. At least, I hope we don’t.



Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Tips for our projects? 
Send emails to Jody Potter at junkyardbull@gmail.com or Ron Kidd at Kidd403@bellsouth.net.