Why is it so?
There are a number of unusual features setting this car apart from the standard Charger R/T. We dug deep to confirm its authenticity and to resolve some intriguing anomalies.
Q: Why was this the only Charger R/T auto built and why was it exported to the UK?
A: To answer that question, we need to look at the letters SOA or ‘special order accepted’ stamped on the inner guard. If a customer asked for a non-standard option, a special request was sent with the order and if accepted, it was given an SOA number. Chrysler was keen to give the customer what they wanted so if a car has an SOA number, there is something non-standard about it. The reason this was a ‘one-off’ simply means that no other customer had ordered (or Chrysler had accepted) an automatic transmission option for a Charger R/T. Former Chrysler competition manager John Ellis suggested that this car could have been ordered by a senior UK executive or somebody ‘in the know’ as opposed to a customer off the street.
Q: Why the body number code anomaly?
A: There is a one-digit anomaly in the body number code stamped on the car to what is on the factory build list. The factory build list has VH7S29 398. The number after VH is a 7, which is 265 manual transmissions, the same as the other Charger R/Ts. This could have been an error but according to Charger numbers guru Andrew Clark, more likely to keep the number in sequence with the other Charger R/Ts.
Q: Why is there an engine number anomaly?
A: There is also a one-digit anomaly with the engine number code, D331B 05425, but this time the code stamped on the engine, matches that on the factory build list. The code it has is D331B, which is for the 203bhp engine auto. Its correct code should be D341B for the HP 218bhp engine installed in the car (confirmed by its twin outlet exhaust manifold). Andrew Clark scrolled through the factory build lists and found only very early production Charger 770 autos had the HP 218bhp engine auto with the correct D341B engine code. But around the time this car was built, all Charger 770s, manual and auto, reverted to the standard 203bhp engine. We also found three VH Pacer autos on the build list with the same incorrect D331B and C engine codes. Former Chrysler engine plant manager Bob Burke said the engine numbers were stamped after engine assembly and he thinks this is most likely to be a simple one digit stamping error. The bottomline: both numbers confirm the car is a genuine factory Charger R/T auto. The factory build list confirms this was the only one built.
Q: What’s with the strange door handles?
A: These are different from the standard handles found on other Australian Chryslers from VH onwards. UK owner Stephen Harrison said the handles were with the car when he purchased it and he believed they were simply fitted by a previous owner when the original Australianmade handles needed replacing. Paul Norris, manager of Valiant Spares and Repairs said they decided the handles had been factory fitted after studying the earliest photo of the car and also a photo of a Charger R/T exported to Japan. Paul said they found the same handles were fitted to Dodge D5N trucks assembled in Adelaide at the time, so they were a known off-the-shelf part. Bill Chinnick, who worked in the Chrysler design studio, recalls an experiment with different door handles. Anything oddball like that would have been fitted to an export car as opposed to one for the local market. Bill said he is ‘pretty sure’ the handles would have been fitted in Australia. Regardless, the door handles are very much a part of this car’s unique story!
Q: Why do the side indicator lights differ from Australian-delivered Chargers?
A: The front guard side indicator lights would have been fitted prior to registration in the UK to comply with UK regulations. Chargers exported to Japan also had the same or similar lights on the front guard. The indicator lights on this car were identified as a standard Lucas part also fitted to a Rolls Royce Corniche!