ORIGINALLY PLANNED AS A BUDGET BUILD, PETER MANOS TOOK HIS 1969 CHARGER TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH THE FULL RESTOMOD TREATMENT.
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.