Why is it so?

Australian Muscle Car - - Resurrected -

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!

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