White White Knight
story in AMC #78 on limited edition muscle cars inspired Bill Papanicolaou, owner of the red White Knight Charger on the cover, to go through his files and send us a clipping which appeared in The Age newspaper on 29 January 1999. The story was one of Kevin Norbury’s series of Rear View columns.
It features a fine example of a white WKS (the reverse colour scheme to Bill’s) owned by Carl Harte, then 28, from Melbourne. Just to show the diversity of muscle car enthusiasts, Carl’s occupation was listed as a professional opera singer, at that stage a member of the Victoria State Opera chorus.
The car is a 1976 automatic model, bought new in 1977 by his grandfather from the Frankston Chrysler dealership. He paid $7500.
When Carl was seven he would sit in the back seat, noticing the stunned reaction his grandfather got from other motorists.
“This elderly retired farmer in a conspicuous white Charger, regarded more as a young man’s muscle car.”
When his grandfather became too old to drive, Carl offered him $2000 to take over the car. When he bought it, the Charger had done only 41,000 kilometres in 14 years of driving.
He kept the body as original as possible, even retaining a dent in the boot caused by his grandfather trying to force it open. He made some modifications to the motor, boring it out from 265ci to 270, adding extractors, a bigger camshaft and a four-barrel Holley. No one in their right mind would make such modifications today given that originality is now so highly prized.
By 1999 Carl had noticed that people were starting to change their attitude to these cars.
“Ten years ago you were seen as a bit of a dag if you were driving a Charger,” he told Rear View. “Nowadays you are seen as cool.”
At the time Carl Harte said that he would never sell the car because of its family heritage. If he still has it, it’s probably in storage. We’re told Carl is still an opera singer but is now based in India. We’d love to hear from him.