A Hero, Icon & Fat Set of Mickey Thompsons
There are two types of showstoppers in the car scene. Attention Seekers & Heroes.
Almost every weekend you witness the usual Attention Seeking behaviour of “enthusiasts”, whether it be your resident neighbourhood bogan trying to rip a fat skid through his AU Fairmont’s open diff and Milo tin exhaust, or a boiled egg having a midlife crisis behind the wheel of his Ferrari. Both these fairly regular examples of automotive enthusiasm grant the esteemed drivers your attention, but you usually find yourself thinking “that person is an utter knob”.
Hero cars however are the ‘Showstoppers’ I approve of. At a Cars & Coffee not so long ago, I saw a line of Lamborghinis parked in a neat row, yet at the very end was a thick crowd of people surrounding a bog-standard Toyota Supra TT, absolutely infatuated to see this unicorn of pop culture in the flesh.
Whether you’re into your US classics or not, you can’t deny the menacing yet somewhat familiar presence of a late 60s Dodge Charger. As four of us sat waiting at a Caltex in the Port of Fremantle, the usual friendly banter and insults being exchanged were suddenly halted by the sound of a 440ci Mopar and the long profile of Dodge’s B-Body coupe. It didn’t arrive like an American tourist nor did it have the ego of mid-life crisis, but as we admired its lines, sound and fat rear end pulling into the carpark, there was not a peep from any of the crew. All were affixed on the arrival of a Hero.
That’s what I really love about the Charger, it’s an unspoken precedent that when one arrives you instantly fall in love with it. I am a diehard Italian enthusiast and while I’ve appreciated the Americans for their massive power plants and aggressive 60s motoring, it’s never really been much to my taste. But you cannot deny the atmosphere the Charger brings to a handful of enthusiasts.
This menacing example is under the current care of Blake Clarke, who purchased the vehicle out of the United States of Trump as tribute to his late father. The car holds a special place in the heart for Blake as this was his father and his dream car. Seven months after losing his dad, Blake made it his mission to source this legendary motor as the ultimate tribute.
The car we see here is the final product of his investigations in the US. It’s a tidy 1969 chassis that over time went from a granny-spec 318ci to a drag racing Mopar. The Magnum 440ci is a delight weighing in at 7.2L in old money, the donk has a few additional trinkets like a lumpy cam, MSD ignition and a four barrel carby sending power down a tight 4 Speed manual transmission and a 2.95:1 differential in the rear end.
This Charger bares the signature lines of a B-Body coupe with a slightly elevated derriere due to those phat Mickey Thompson drag radials, exposing the ancient leaf springs and cut off three inch poo shoots behind the rear axle. We have had the chance to experience a 440ci Charger before, but that looked more like something from Bullet, whereas this looks like a dirty Nascar has mated with the General Lee. Bearing the number 782 on the doors as homage to the Dukes of Hazzard icon, it references the legends at Seven82 Motors, who tracked down the seller of the Charger in Arizona and brought it into Australia for Blake.
The weekend dragster only needs some minor tweaks to get the tick of approval for WA roads, but overall is an incredibly tidy example of a 60s American icon and a defining moment of the muscle-car era. Whether it was behind the crew car doing rolling shots, or parked next to the local fisherman on a Fremantle Pier, the Charger was a head turner to all and will no doubt continue to be a star of every car show and coffee morning Blake has the pleasure of driving it to. His ownership of the Charger is a gift to his late old man, and it is his goal to recondition and restore the king of Mopar Muscle just the way his father would have wanted.