White White Knight

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

Our

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.

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