By John Gunnell
The folks at the Fashion Bazaar, of Miami, Fla., considered the ’69 Dodge Charger a “fashion statement.” The car’s svelte looks and outstanding performance sold them on buying one. On Sept. 13, 1968, they visited Trail Dodge Inc. to purchase a red Charger R/T with a black vinyl interior.
Bob Steele, of Wild Rose, Wis., owns the car today. The veteran body man restores Mopar muscle cars in a shop near his home. Steele knows that Chargers are popular with collectors today. Good looks, great performance and lots of starring roles on TV and in movies have added a lot to their cache.
Steele’s car bears serial number XS29L9B111149, The “X” indicates a Charger. The “S” indicates it is an R/T. The “29” indicates a two-door Sports Hardtop. The “L” indicates a 440-cid high-performance V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor. This motor produced 375 hp and was standard in Charger R/Ts. You could add the Six-Pack option or the 426-cid Hemi, but apparently the Fashion Bazaar people did not feel they needed more than 375 hp.
The 1969 Charger was a modestly updated version of the Gen 2 Charger that arrived in 1968. Small changes included a new divided grille, new horizontal taillights and new side marker lights. The patterning on the bucket seats was revised, too. The R/T was the high-performance model.
All Chargers came with the then required assortment of federal safety and anti-pollution features, plus all-vinyl bucket seats, carpeting, a three-spoke steering wheel with padded hub and partial horn ring, a heater-defroster, an electric clock, a cigarette lighter, an ashtray light, Dodge’s heavy-duty suspension (including a hefty sway bar, fatter front torsion bars and sturdier-than-stock rear springs), bumper guards, wheel opening moldings, concealed headlights and a racing style quick-fill gas cap. R/Ts also had at least the Magnum 440 four-barrel V-8, dual exhaust with chrome tips, TorqueFlite automatic transmission, heavy-duty manually-adjusted brakes, F70-14 Red Line tires, an R/T handling package and Bumblebee stripes.
The base price for an R/T was $3,575. The full-size, unit-body performance machine had a 117-inch wheelbase and 207.9-inch overall length. It weighed in at 3,646 lbs. Dodge wound up making 19,298 Charger R/Ts for the model year.
Like many collectors, Steele has original paperwork for the car, including a factory broadcast sheet that lists all factory equipment. A partially filled-in Warranty Validation card from 1969 gives the name of the selling dealer and the original owner. Steele also has an old warranty for the Motorola radio in the car.
An undated receipt for Motor Vehicle Inspection Fees paid in Orange County, Fla., and a business card from Orlando Dodge Inc. show the car passed through a second factory dealer’s hands at one point. The business card has the name of dealership salesman Mike Smith printed on it with the Dodge logo, then the name Ken Smith is written in by hand. The area code for the number on the card was changed from 305 to 407. This change took place in 1988, so the car must have been traded in to Orlando Dodge at about that time.
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