Some of the cars we get here have amazing stories to tell. Some are interesting because of the car itself, while others are interesting because of the lives they've led. And, some are just ultra-rare cars, with historical significance. In the case of this immaculate, fully restored, matching-numbers 1969 Hemi Charger 500, it's everything. Sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy the tale of this special car.
I guess the right place to start is with the Charger 500 story. Most Mopar fans out there know about these incredibly rare cars that are kind of the “missing link” between the regular Charger and the outrageous “wing cars,” the Daytona and the Superbird. In 1969, Ford and Mercury were dominating NASCAR with their more aerodynamic bodies, and the new-for-1968 Dodge Charger was proving to have some significant shortcomings on the high-banked ovals at 190 MPH. Most notably, the recessed front grille was acting like a parachute and the recessed rear window with those dramatic sail panels was creating lift that affected high-speed stability. In an effort to make the cars more competitive, Dodge engineers promptly stuffed a Coronet grille and headlights into the Charger's nose and a sloped, flush-fitting rear window between those sail panels, creating the built-to-compete Charger 500.
Of course, if they wanted to race it, they had to build it, which meant putting 500 of these cars on the street in the hands of paying customers. Sources differ on exactly how many were made, but NASCAR required at least 500 to make it legal for competition. Galen Govier, who has fully documented and verified this particular Charger 500, says that there were 559 Charger 500s built in '69, with only 116 of those being Hemi-powered, and of those, only 32 were equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission. Any way you look at it, this is one incredibly rare high-performance Mopar.
This part of the story ends with Ford rolling out new, even more aerodynamic bodies in 1969, and the Charger 500 simply wasn't enough to fight them off. The 500 was quickly shelved and the incredible Daytona was unleashed. But that's another story entirely.
Between 2005 and 2007, this 2-owner car received a complete rotisserie restoration at StripMasters Pure Muscle Restorations in Milton, Florida. The original numbers-matching drivetrain is fresh, the B5 Blue paint is flawless, the new Legendary interior is better than new, and it drives like a brand-new car. Every component has been done to the very highest standards in every way, and received exceptional care and attention to detail because of this car's very special personal history. See, this is where this particular Charger's history gets really interesting, and without this piece of the puzzle, merely telling you about the restoration isn't worth the time. Bear with me - this part of the story is definitely worth the read.
David “Radar” Roark returned from a couple of tours flying combat missions over Vietnam in the summer of 1970, and ended up in Jacksonville, Florida. Anxious to buy a new car, he went out looking for a piece of high-performance iron that would satisfy his fighter pilot adrenaline addiction. He found this super-low-mile Charger 500 sitting on a dealer's lot - it was traded back in a few weeks after purchase because the original owner didn't like the stick shift. So he bought it for a little over $4000, which was a serious chunk of change in 1970.
The Charger actually served at David's daily driver until 1985, when he retired from the Navy after 35 years of service. Yes, he drove a 4-speed Hemi every single day for fifteen years - talk about a dream come true! At that point, the all-original Charger went into storage, sitting idle for the next fifteen years. Around 2000, David decided to restore the Charger to its former glory, and took the Charger apart in his home garage. Unfortunately, good intentions being what they are, he realized that he just didn't have the time to finish the project. He contacted his good friend Ray Younkin of Pure Muscle Restorations, and had Ray take the car to his shop and perform the restoration in earnest. At first, David wanted some substantial modifications to the car so he could continue to drive and enjoy it (things like a six-speed manual). Fortunately, Ray prevailed upon him to put the ultra-rare Charger back to factory original condition, and David reluctantly decided that instead of having an ultra-valuable car he couldn't drive and enjoy after it was restored, he would sell the Charger and buy something he could play with. It didn't take long to find a buyer.
Unfortunately, the story isn't quite over. On January 10, 2006, just a few weeks after selling the Charger, David was killed while flying a T-39 Sabreliner, a small commuter jet-style airplane used to move high-ranking officers around the country. David's sudden death prompted Ray and the guys at Pure Muscle to go all-out on this Charger for the new owner, knowing how much it meant to their friend. Working with the new owner, the guys restored the Charger back to 100% factory-new condition.
The car itself is something special. Not only is it a matching-numbers, 100% authentic 4-speed Hemi Charger 500, but it was loaded with options. The original fender tag decodes as follows:
E74 426 2x4 barrel 425 horsepower V8 426 HEMI head
D21 Transmission: A833 4-speed manual HURST
B5 Bright blue metallic paint
C6D Blue Charger vinyl bucket seats
A34 Super Track Pack
B41 Front disc brakes
B51 Power brakes
C55 Front bucket seats
G15 Tinted windshield
J25 3-speed wipers with electric washers
L31 Hood-mounted turn signals
N85 Tachometer (includes clock)
R11 Music Master AM radio
V88 Transverse sport stripe delete
26 26-inch radiator
On this car, authenticity is part of the package, and all six numbers that determine numbers matching are present and accurate. The dash VIN is verified as correct with the correct rivets. The primary body codes on the top of the radiator support are correct. The secondary body codes in the trunk lip are correct. The fender tag is correct and located on the inner driver's side fender. The VIN stamping on the engine and transmission have been verified as original.
Immaculate doesn't even begin to describe this car. I don't think there's a B5 Blue car out there anywhere that looks this good, even under the harsh fluorescent lights in our showroom. The car seems to have an inner glow that can only come from someone spending countless hours sanding and polishing the sheet-metal and paint. All the original sheet-metal is still on the car, and it has been flawlessly straightened and aligned by the Mopar experts at Pure Muscle. Of course, knowing that it was going to be a tribute to their friend David, there's no question that every single man on the project went above and beyond the call of duty on this car to make it as perfect as possible. The finish is so glossy, it's hard to resist running your fingers down the side because you're thinking it might still be wet. Out back, there's an authentic white bumblebee stripe with the correct “500” cutout on the sides.
All the chrome and stainless has been restored or replaced. The unique front grille is flawless - I don't know where they found this perfect piece, but I wonder if they were this nice when they were new. The front and rear bumpers have been re-chromed and are perfect enough to use as mirrors when you shave each morning. The stainless around the wheel arches and windows has been professionally polished to the point that it looks like chrome, and all the Charger badges have been replaced with highly accurate replacements. On the rear deck, the gas filler cap is in place and looks 100% new. Glass, lenses and marker lights are perfect as well. The final touches are the chrome HEMI badges on the leading edges of each door.
On any significant car, the power-train is the critical part, and with this Charger 500, it is 100% original and matching-numbers throughout. The car has never been wrecked or raced, and as such all the original components were refinished and remanufactured during the restoration. The casting date on the Hemi block is 8-5-68, and the stamped engine number matches the VIN as it should, while the casting number is 2468330- 1. The ID stamped on the oil pan rail below the starter is A E VN426 2648 1632 (October 27, 1968). There is no doubt that this is the original engine.
Date codes are as follows:
Vehicle scheduled production date: 11/14/68
Engine cast: 8/5/6
8Engine assembled: 10/27/68
Transmission cast: 10/2/68
Transmission assembled: 11/3/68
The engine was fully rebuilt to stock specifications during the restoration, and it runs flawlessly. In fact, we were amazed by how well it starts and idles, even when cold. It doesn't need any poking or prodding to stay at idle, and it will happily pull 1st gear without touching the accelerator. We get a lot of Hemis in the shop, and I don't think I've ever seen one that runs as well as this one does. In fact, it almost seems too docile, although you know that's not the case - it's just waiting for the opportunity to open up all eight barrels and blast through the gears.
The engine compartment is detailed to national-show-winning standards with 100% correct and date-coded parts. This car was an early build car, and as such all the components that were replaced were done with an eye towards exact accuracy. That's the original wiper motor and reproduction ballast resistor on the firewall connected to a reproduction engine wiring harness, the original air cleaner, 4619S and 4620S carbs, exhaust manifolds and more. There's a reproduction Group 27 Red Cap battery, wire-set, new reproduction heater and radiator hoses along with the original 054 radiator and new battery cables, complete with engine paint overspray on the ground cable.
The New Process A833 4-speed manual transmission is also the original matching-numbers piece. It carries the matching VIN stamped into the pad, along with PP8332655 0120 which decodes as PP=New Process, 833=4-speed, 2655 is the 10K date code, which decodes as 11-3-68, and the 0120 is the sequence number. The casting date appears to be October 2, 1968, which is in line with the car's scheduled production date of November 14, 1968. Out back, you'll find the original Dana 60 rear end packed with the Super Track Pack 4.10 gears.
While you're under there, make sure you not all the details on the chassis. Like the engine compartment, the underside of this car was done to show standards and is as-new throughout. The original floors (this is a Florida car, remember) are coated in the correct gray primer. Maybe it's a little more tidy than it was new, but there's no point in restoring a car like this if you're going to reproduce flaws, right? The exhaust system is a reproduction piece that includes the correct resonators and tips out back. All the lines are stainless steel, and the brake cables are new. The suspension has been fully rebuilt and detailed with the factory markings and tags. Impressively, it was not over-restored, and anything that was originally bare steel, such as the lower control arms, remains bare steel, not coated to simulate it. While some might object to this from a preservation point of view, you can't argue that it isn't authentic, which is what a car of this caliber demands.
As I mentioned earlier, the car currently rolls on a set of reproduction Magnum wheels, 15x7s up front and 15x8s in back with 235/60/15 front and 275/60/15 rear Turbo Tech GT redline radials. They're not authentic (the car should have 15x6 stamped steel wheels painted to match the body), but they look incredible on the car.
If you think they took it easy when they got to the interior, you'd better guess again. Everything from the headliner to the carpets is from Legendary, and is completely authentic in every way. The dash pad is new, the rim-blow steering wheel is restored, and the gauges have been completely rebuilt, including the Tic-Toc-Tach with correct 5000 RPM redline. The odometer shows 75,616 original miles, and we're glad they decided not to roll it back to 0 when they restored the car - there's too much history tied up here to wipe it away so easily. It took David more than 15 years to rack up those miles, and you can bet he was grinning like a mental patient during every single one of them. The Music Master AM radio in the dash still pulls in signals loud and clear, while the woodgrain on the console looks like new. The seatbelts are authentic replacements in the correct medium blue color. The trunk is equally well detailed with a new mat. The jack and associated equipment has been restored and there's a matching redline radial on a stamped steel wheel. How you get the spare out through that tiny trunk opening, I can't say, but at least it's in there. This car won't be losing any points at the next Mopar Nationals because of the interior.
Finally, there's documentation. This has been a long story, and without documentation it's all just speculation. Fortunately, everything I've told you here is verifiable and authentic and is included with the car. There's the Govier report on the car I mentioned earlier, and it is incredibly thorough. An original Operator's Manual is included, along with some promotional materials from the car's 1969 debut, including a cool Dodge News Photo of the new Chargers that was intended to be used with the new vehicle announcements. There's also an article on the Charger 500 from the February 1969 issue of Hot Rod magazine detailing the hot new Dodge, and an incredible spread on this car in the July 2009 Mopar Collector's Guide. This particular car also includes a CD-ROM filled with restoration photos. We also have a copy of the original owner's warranty card.
We talk about investment-grade cars all the time, but if ever there was one that defined the term, this is it. When you look at the criteria that make cars like this desirable, this one clicks all the right boxes: rare, Hemi-powered, 4-speed, numbers matching, original sheet-metal, documented, known owner history, and a show-quality restoration. This is a “Holy Grail car” for any serious Mopar collector.
The fact that this car exists as a tribute to David “Radar” Roark, and that it was so lovingly preserved by him for more than 30 years tells you all you need to know about how special this car is. I can't think of another Hemi in recent memory that is as important as this one, and it can easily anchor the most significant collections. If you've been watching our inventory, you know you have to move on this car right now - cars like this are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and don't stick around long.
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