Long Time Coming...

Published: 03:11PM Mar 18th, 2010
By: Web Editor

It took Clive Cashin nearly 30 years to get himself a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, but when he did he went to town to create the car of his dreams!

Long Time Coming...

The 1970 Dodge Charger is the last and rarest year of the second generation ‘Coke Bottle’ design models. The Charger now featured a large wraparound chrome bumper and the grille had a more flush uncluttered style without a divider in the middle. New electric headlight doors replaced the previous vacuum units, side markers became actual lights and the R/T had rear facing scoops on both doors with the R/T logo embossed on them. Finishing things off was a more pronounced rear tail panel.

As with most of Chrysler’s other 1970 offerings, the Charger was available in the new ‘high impact’ colours such as Burnt Orange, Sublime, Top Banana and Panther Pink. Three engine options were available for the R/T: the regular (if you could call it that!) four-barrel 440; the legendary 426 Hemi and the new 440 six-Pack, a 375bhp version of the 440 with a triple carb set-up. The SE ‘Special Edition’ option on the trim codes added high-end luxury to what was a full-on muscle car, and was available on the 500 and R/T models. All this coupled with an all-new pistol grip Hurst shifter for four-speed manual cars and new upholstery, with high back front seats made for one of the most complete performance cars that Chrysler had ever offered.

The owner of this splendid 1970 Dodge Charger R/T is Clive Cashin, a 38-year-old London Underground railway engineer from Surrey. In his younger days, Clive had been bitten by the whole American lifestyle bug and in particular the rockabilly movement with its energy-charged music and lavish Fifties automobiles. Very soon he had bought (with the help of his then girlfriend) a 1955 Cadillac Coupe de Ville complete with green ‘Hollywood’ glamour interior and whitewall tyres; he was just 19-years-old. Living near him at that time were a couple of Mopars: a triple green ’69 Road Runner and a yellow Charger; Clive admired their ‘attitude’, although those types of cars didn’t quite fit in with the music scene he was living and breathing at the time.

Classic AmericanAs it turned out, Mopar ownership would come later in his life. Eventually, the Caddy moved on to a new home and 13 years passed by for Clive with no Yank motor in his life. One day however, the American car bug came back with a vengeance and this time he knew exactly what car he was after: a Dodge Charger! Clive explains his preference: ‘Originally, I thought I wanted a ’69 car, or as a last resort a ’68. However, once I saw a 70 R/T, that made my mind up; those plastic lunch boxes (reverse scoops) glued to the doors may be tacky, but they set the car off perfectly. Yep, it was definitely a 1970 for me.’

He found the car on a Mopar dealer’s website in April 2005 in Austin, Texas. It needed work, but fitted the bill perfectly; strangely, he made the decision to buy the Charger unseen except for a couple of hours' conversation and on the strength of six photos! Money exchanged hands, shipping was arranged and the car found its way to the UK. Once safely home, Clive gave the car the once over. The Dodge, thankfully, was ‘as described’, although Martin Saville at RPM Motors in Aldershot performed the work needed to see the car MoT’d and registered.

So how did it feel to actually drive the car? Clive describes the feeling: ‘With a set of Cherry Bomb glass packs hooked up to the exhaust, that 440 sure did sound glorious; but three months later, the engine died in a pretty big way, which put me on the very long road to a total restoration.’ What originally started as an engine rebuild and a re-spray ended with a full-on restoration taking four years, with painstaking searches for the right parts to bring the car up to the condition you see on these pages today.

Clive sent the Dodge to JC Refinishing (Tel. 01483 268 111 or see www.jc-refinishing.co.uk) in Cranleigh, Surrey, where its proprietor John Castleman is a long-time Mopar and muscle car fan who is a specialist in the restoration of American cars and classics. After some lengthy discussions with John, he decided the car should be stripped to a bare metal shell and acid-dipped then e-plated for corrosion protection. Once dipped, the body shell looked to be in far better shape than expected; nonetheless plenty of hours went into ensuring that the Charger’s panels were perfect for painting. Clive takes up the story: ‘I had always wanted a six-pack Charger so at this point I had the bulkhead re-worked to remove the air conditioning (six-pack cars could not be ordered with air con).

While the body preparation took place, Clive started the arduous process of tracking down a genuine 1970 date-coded engine to drop into the Charger. He found a block and heads in the US that had received all the engineering work to make them as new. The internals are all six-pack as well, with new con-rods, pistons, camshaft, valve springs, oil pump, steel crankshaft. In fact everything in the engine is ‘v’ code spec’d as a six-pack motor would be. Clive had to source a Chrysler factory-cast iron triple-inducted inlet manifold to accommodate the brand new 2300 series Holley carburettors – no easy task and again this item had to come from the States, as did all the fittings including that huge oval air cleaner. The 727 torqueflite automatic gearbox has been totally rebuilt with a Stage Two shift kit fitted, complementing its six-pack internals.

Classic AmericanWith the body work finished, John Castleman laid on the fresh EW1 Alpine White paint and wrapped the job up with a tomato red (painted) bumble bee tail stripe, which made the Dodge look stunning. With Clive helping out on the re-fit, the Charger soon had a new Burnt Orange interior, dashboard and carpet installed. It was also fitted were new lenses, re-chromed bumpers and many hundreds of new or refurbished parts, all of which have given the car an ‘as-new’ feel to it. The only factory deviations are the addition of a rear anti-roll bar to assist handling and braided front brake hoses for additional stopping power.

Its first car show outing at Brooklands in 2009 saw a top five finish; and then, at the MoparEuroNats, the Charger grabbed the coveted Winged Warriors trophy. Clive also had the privilege of gracing the Mopar Muscle Association’s stand at the 2009 Classic Car show at Birmingham’s NEC.

So what’s it like driving a ‘brand-new’ 1970 six-pack Charger? Clive explains: ‘The Charger is very sure-footed in cornering and braking, never overheats and is great on motorways. If driven sympathetically, it returns 16-17mpg, but when you mash on the loud pedal, it's single figures... but it does put a smile on your face!’

After the Charger clocked up 500 miles, Clive took the car back to JC Refinishing where the team went through the whole of the B-body, checking bolt security and a final tune-up. Since then the Dodge has provided many miles of perfect, fault-free motoring, vindicating Clive’s decision to totally rebuild the car and achieve a lifetime ambition of owning a fully restored American classic.

With the Charger now finished, Clive is once again ready to turn his attention to a new renovation project; whatever the car, you can bet Clive will give it his utmost dedication!

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