THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1968 Dodge Charger owned by Kevin Norman
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
With its deep grille, sweeping roof and "Coke bottle" shape, the '68 Charger epitomized muscle cars of the era. Even today, some consider it Chrysler's best-looking model. Norman notes that the design was inspired by the fierce competition in NASCAR racing among American auto manufacturers in the '60s. "Introduced in 1966, the Charger was basically the fastback version of the Dodge Coronet," he says.
"For 1968, the Charger was completely redesigned. Although the recessed grille and back window didn't do well on the racetrack, it was a hit on the street. Sales topped 80,000 that year." Norman has upgraded his car to replicate Chrysler's high-performance "R/T" (road/track) package, which included a 440-cubic-inch V-8 engine and a three-speed "Torqueflite" automatic transmission.
HOW LONG HE'S OWNED IT
"I bought the car in 1996," Norman says. "I had the same year/model Charger in high school in the '80s and I had to have this one. It was a total impulse buy."
WHERE HE FOUND IT
"I bought it after seeing it on the side of the road in East Hampton," he says. "It was an untouched original car that I was able to drive home."
"It was in average driver condition when I bought it," Norman says. "I farmed out the body work and did the mechanical work myself. I changed the engine, transmission, rear end, wiring and many other parts. I'd like to say it's done, but it never will be."
TIPS FOR OWNERS
"If you want to own or restore a "Mopar" (Chrysler's name for its parts and service division), the first thing on your list should be joining an Internet forum that specializes in the car you are interested in," he advises. "You will find valuable advice on where to locate parts, how to do repairs, and vendor reviews."
Norman estimates the Charger's value between $20,000 and $30,000.
"It's my third child and it took up all of my time before I had the real ones," Norman says of the Charger. "I put modern safety belts in so I can enjoy it with my kids. It's a labor of love and at times it seems like an endless money pit. But it's all worth it when you get a compliment or someone says you made their day because they remember when these cars were new."
FOR SOMETHING NEW
Take a look at the 2010 Charger at your LI Dodge dealer.
If you want to show off your car, e-mail your information and a jpg photo (at least 200 dpi) for consideration to David Fluhrer, Newsday Wheels; firstname.lastname@example.org