Old Cars is turning 50. In honor of 50 years of the privilege of bringing the old cars hobby to our valued and faithful readers, Old Cars will revisit 50 of our past featured cars in 50 days, to commemorate the half-century of Old Cars. Here's to fifty more years of Old Cars!
DAY TWENTY-EIGHT: 1969 Dodge Charger 500 Hemi
While organizing a special "Icons of Design" category for the annual Eyes On Design car show in 2016, I caught wind of a special Hemi-powered MoPar hidden away in the Great White North. Apparently, a private individual has quietly built up a world-class collection, the Manny Collection in Ontario, Canada, that consists mainly of unrestored MoPar muscle cars from the 1960s and early 1970s.
Among those cars is a red 1969 Charger 500 that, as it turns out, was the first Charger 500 built. It was originally used by Dodge at major auto shows and for promotional purposes. “It’s pretty much an original, unrestored Charger 500 with the 426 Hemi engine and four-speed Hurst shifter,” the collection’s owner told me. “I’ve known about this special muscle car for a very long time.”
The Charger 500 was developed specifically for NASCAR racing. The 1969 Charger’s standard sheet metal — particularly the concave grille opening and the shape of the back window and rear roof section—created aerodynamic problems at high speeds. Chrysler designers addressed those issues by replacing the Charger’s stock grille with a Coronet grille mounted flush with the leading edge of the car’s nose, and reshaping the backlight and its surrounding sheet metal into a fastback-like form. According to a letter Chrysler sent to this car's first post-Dodge owner, the changes were good for an “increase of 3 to 7 mph…on the super speedways.”
To learn more about this piece of MoPar history <CLICK HERE>
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