Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Most Famous Car Chase Car of all Time

These pics are hot off the press! I stumbled out of my house this morning to grab some coffee beans and look what was waiting for me just a block away:
Yes indeed this is a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T in Yellow. This car in this color is this is the most punk rock thing I've seen in a long time. Picture this: It's 1968 and you want a muscle car. Not only that, but you want a car so brutally powerful and dialed in that it can compete in Nascar or on the drag strip the moment you leave the dealership. And then you find yourself taken with that gentle sunny yellow color more commonly seen on Darts and station wagons! Since I have a special place in my heart for odd colors and/or tough guy rides that go against type I LOVE this ride.
At first glance you might think this is the exact car that the General Lee started out as. It's very close; that one was a 1969 with a central vertical bar dividing the grill. This one has its power headlights in the open position but when they're closed it's just one menacing expanse of black.
*Big shout-out to the turn signal repair. The original lenses have been replaced with completely generic hardware store lights that probably cost $5 for the pair. Keep in mind that there are 4 '68 R/Ts on eBay right now and they're all in the $80,000-$95,000 range (this is excluding a $300,000 custom show car).
The R/T stands for Road/Track and was the high performance model of the Charger. A set of Bumble Bee Stripes wrapped around the trunk in either Red, White, or Black on the R/T. It seems the original owner preferred to skip the stripes (they could be deleted at no cost). 
The base engine for the R/T was the 7.2 liter 440 Magnum V8 rated at 375 horsepower! Officially the top speed was 136 mph but many owners reported speeds of 150mph in stock form. The only engine more powerful for this car when new was the 426 Hemi, itself a $605 option. Not many Hemis were built and fewer survive today.
Since it was behind the velvet ropes I didn't want to get too close so I can't tell what transmission this has. The steering wheel is aftermarket but so out of style at this point that I dig it. The small paint loss on the hood and rust creeping around the window trim makes me believe this might be original paint.
That symbol above the word Charger is known as the Fratzog. As far as I know there's no known origin of the name other than the fact that it was the '60s and they had to name it something.
Let's go ahead and get this over with: This is the exact year/make/model as the famous bad guy car in the movie Bullitt. Due to copyright laws they've uploaded it in 2 parts so here's the second half where they climb up into the hills above San Francisco. The cars reached speeds of over 110mph during filming! Supposedly the Charger was so much faster than the Mustang in real life that they had to keep letting off the gas to make it seem close.
In my opinion the car chase from the Seven Ups has the greatest finale and Bullitt is tied with the French Connection. Regardless the legendary stunt driver and actor Bill Hickman is driving in all three (though he's not shown in the French Connection).
That deep set rear window aped the GM versions seen on the Le Mans/GTO and Cutlass/442 the previous year. Those quad round taillights were replaced with a single wide unit on each side for 1969 (the year of the General Lee). Speaking of the General Lee, here's a compilation of every jump they ever did with their '69 Charger across 7 seasons and 2 movies! Terrible in many ways as somewhere between 256 and 321 cars didn't survive filming.
Well there we have it; one of the most famous and famously abused cars of all time. I, like many people my age, have loved this car since I was a kid. They were actually built in large numbers with something like 17,000 R/Ts out of 96,000 total Chargers built. These days they are very sought after in any condition and so there are really no cheap examples out there. A couple of times at car shows I've seen non-R/T Chargers that left the factory with the slant-6 cylinder engine under the hood! Those are unbelievably rare as most that did exist have had their engines replaced with big V8s.
Enjoy the lazy 4th weekend everybody!

1 comment: