Orig­i­nally planned as a bud­get build, Peter Manos took his ’69 Charger to the next level with the full restomod treat­ment.

Fa­ther-and-son pro­jects are a sta­ple of the car hobby, and it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter what brand fla­vor you like, there are al­ways sto­ries to be told. Some­times these sto­ries in­volve a pass­ing of the ba­ton to some­one else when a project takes a wrong turn, or the in­ter­est wanes. The story on the ac­qui­si­tion and build­ing of this ’69 Dodge Charger is ex­actly that — a pass­ing of the ba­ton. When New Yorker Peter Manos and his sons Pete and An­thony set out to find a project to have built to their tastes with their in­put, they picked up where some­one else had left off — sort of. “My boys and I de­cided we wanted to take an old car and restomod it,” Peter re­calls. This led them to another fa­ther-and-son project that ran out of steam and was dead in the wa­ter. In the middle of this deal was Arthur Poltorak, the owner of Premier Restora­tions in Clifton, New Jer­sey. He was the guy re­spon­si­ble bring­ing the two fa­thers to­gether to pass over the keys to the Charger.

This ’69 was orig­i­nally pow­ered by a 383ci big-block with a 727 Torqueflite and an 8 ¾ rear. It rolled off the as­sem­bly line wear­ing a black ex­te­rior and in­te­rior. When the ti­tle was signed over to Peter, it was still sport­ing a shade of black — it was rat­tle can flat black. That was the kind of paintjob that had been in­flicted on the car, and as most folks can eas­ily fig­ure out, not a sign of some­thing point­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Peter’s goal was to do a rea­son­ably priced restomod

that was com­fort­able to drive and re­li­able, but not over the top. “Orig­i­nally we were go­ing to take an en­gine from a wrecked car, or an in­te­rior from some­where else,” he ex­plains. “It wasn’t sup­posed to be a com­plete restomod.” Ini­tially that was the plan, and once the guys at Premier started rip­ping into the car and re­mov­ing the lay­ers of paint, the hid­den sins of the body came to light. The over­all con­di­tion wasn’t bad but there was sub­stan­tially more sheet­metal dam­age than was ex­pected. Faced with that re­al­ity, they moved for­ward to do all the needed metal and body­work to bring the car to paint. As the costs climbed to just sort out the body, the mind­set needed an ad­just­ment. In Arthur’s opin­ion, with so much al­ready in­vested, the car de­served more than cherry-picked used parts from wrecked cars, and Peter agreed. For the guys at Premier, this wasn’t their first rodeo when it came to build­ing a qual­ity restomod Charger. If you look back at the Au­gust 2016 is­sue of Mopar Mus­cle, you’ll see the ’67 Charger they did. With that ex­pe­ri­ence un­der their belts, it re­ally came down to fol­low­ing the same plug-and-play for­mula on the ’69.

At the heart of the build would lay a 392 Gen III crate Hemi from Mopar Per­for­mance. Rated at 485 horses, this was a proven pack­age that suited the Charger with am­ple amounts of power and re­li­a­bil­ity, and by­passed the po­ten­tial headache of deal­ing with used equip­ment, and as an added bonus would also in­clude a com­pre­hen­sive fac­tory war­ranty. The beauty of this op­tion is that it’s also a plug-and-play deal that makes in­stal­la­tion trou­ble free. Com­ple­ment­ing the Hemi in the shift­ing de­part­ment, they went with a Tre­mec six-speed and a cus­tom drive­shaft run­ning back to a Moser Dana 60 posi stuffed with a set of 3.55:1 gears. Also draw­ing from past ex­pe­ri­ence when it came to the sus­pen­sion up­grades, plu­gand-play was again the fla­vor em­braced with the ad­di­tion of a bolt-on Reilly Mo­tor­sports (RMS) Al­terk­tion front sus­pen­sion kit. This not only im­proved the han­dling at the front, it also sorted out the mount­ing hard­ware needed for the 392. For the rear, they chose the com­ple­ment­ing RMS Street-lynx four-bar sus­pen­sion. The ad­di­tion of those com­po­nents also al­lowed for the in­stal­la­tion of Vik­ing dou­ble-ad­justable coilovers fore and aft and Wil­wood brake kits at all four cor­ners, which greatly en­hanced the han­dling and stop­ping ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

As the build on the Charger pro­gressed, Peter’s younger son, An­thony, took a more

ac­tive role in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process with sug­ges­tions on the di­rec­tion that the car would take. His in­put be­came in­stru­men­tal on how it would end up look­ing ex­ter­nally. With a num­ber of op­tions on the ta­ble, the idea they set­tled on was one where it would have a near monochro­matic look. The ex­te­rior trim was go­ing to be pow­der­coated in a matte black so the color choice would need to in­te­grate well with that vis­ual el­e­ment, and as the body hit the primer stage they started look­ing for that suit­able color. That choice was open for dis­cus­sion and didn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to stick to any par­tic­u­lar Mopar shade — which it didn’t. An­thony sug­gested some­thing that was un­der­stated, so they looked at a num­ber of darker gray metallics and ended up set­tling on Ster­ling Gray me­tal­lic, a 2014 Ford color. Once the basecoat/ clearcoat PPG Del­tron was laid down and buffed, the build moved for­ward with the fo­cus shift­ing to the in­te­rior.

The plan for that was to have a mix of old and new. The clas­sic look of the Charger dash was re­tained; how­ever, in­stru­men­ta­tion was up­graded with Dakota Dig­i­tal gauges, Vin­tage Air A/C con­trols, re­mote start, key­less en­try, and Nardi three-spoke steer­ing wheel. For the rest of the up­hol­stery work, the car was sent to Gillin Auto In­te­ri­ors in Mid­dle­town, New York. Their mis­sion was to marry some of the stock as­pects of the Charger in­te­rior with the newer pieces they were plan­ning to add, most no­tably the ’15 Dodge Chal­lenger front and rear seats. They re­skinned them in leather to mimic the seats found on a stock ’69. While those were mod­i­fied offthe-shelf items, the cen­ter con­sole was an in-house de­signed and fab­ri­cated unit that would serve to house the six-speed shifter and also the Alpine touch­screen stereo. The door pan­els were also mod­i­fied with a mix of leather and suede ac­cents that com­ple­mented the rest of the in­te­rior trim. That car­ried over to the fully fin­ished trunk that housed a set of JBL speak­ers.

There were a few details on the Charger that were still in the air as things came to­gether. One of those was the wheel and tire com­bi­na­tion. Since the trim was matte black, An­thony chose wheels that would com­ple­ment that choice. He opted on a set of US Mags that were equally fin­ished in matte black and would be wrapped in su­per-sticky Miche­lin Pi­lot Su­per Sport ra­dial tires. That tire choice re­ally en­hanced the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the RMS sus­pen­sion, al­low­ing the Manos crew to take full ad­van­tage of the Charger’s new han­dling abil­i­ties. Visu­ally, one el­e­ment that didn’t get pow­der­coated in black was the front and rear bumpers, yet they weren’t left alone. The Premier crew cre­ated a brushed stain­less look us­ing the ex­ist­ing chrome, which al­lowed for some bal­ance in a sea of gray and matte black.

With all the pieces in place, it can all sound pretty good but none of it re­ally mat­ters if they don’t work to­gether well. As they say, the proof is in the pud­ding, and as things go this one ended up tast­ing pretty sweet. Peter notes that, “The car drove well. We re­ally didn’t push it or go crazy, but it sounded great, and it was a real head turner, which is some­thing we were also look­ing for.” Up next, they plan on do­ing some changes in the in­te­rior, but also log­ging some miles with ev­ery­one tak­ing a turn at the wheel.


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