Richard Petty is synonymous with NASCAR Racing. We just returned from Petty’s Garage in Level Cross, North Carolina, and will have more on that later, but one of the cars there especially caught our attention. It was a ’71 Plymouth Road Runner, which represents what Richard Petty won the Riverside Raceway, Winston Western 500 with on January 23, 1972. Under all day Saturday overcast skies, Bobby Allison held the lead for most of the race, but Richard Petty pulled ahead to claim a win that afternoon. In my early teenage years, it was also this author’s first NASCAR race (after I convinced my dad to take me there), and I remember experiencing how much the crowd roared on Petty’s first lap as he raced his ’71 Plymouth by the stands. It was a receptive reaction like they all personally knew him. The year 1972 was also the last year that Petty would campaign a Plymouth race car. Halfway through the 1972 season, Petty switched to a ’72 Dodge Charger, with its slightly more aerodynamic body the team found more winning results. And the following year’s same body style ’73 Dodge Charger worked so well for Petty Enterprises, they continued to run it until 1977, while other teams continued to build and race current-year body styles. Although since that time, Petty has found performance across many domestic brands, the generation of enthusiasts who knew him through the ’70s, continues to remember his very successful years racing Mopars.
That was then, and today Petty’s Garage stays busy building cars for a long list of customers who may want their muscle car restored or modified. This doesn’t just include cars from the ’60s or ’70s, but modern performance cars as well. While we were there we found Hellcats, Demons, and several other latemodel Mopars in Petty’s Garage being worked on. On the vintage side, we saw a ’63 Dodge Polara convertible that was being built to 426 specs, Chargers, Super Birds, Daytonas, and many others.
One Charger that particularly caught our attention was a standard ’68 (nonr/t) with a 383ci and a four-speed. This particular car was in definite need of a complete restoration. Walking around the car, there was a good amount of body repairs and rust from decades earlier. The interior was well worn as was the engine compartment. The customer had recently brought the car in, and it’s now awaiting a complete disassembly and restoration. Obviously, like with many of us, the car holds a lot of memories to the owner who wants to experience the car again, as it once was.
And that’s largely what being a Mopar enthusiast is about. Whether it happens with a ’60s or ’70s Mopar or a late-model, it’s the bond that we all relate to and thrive on. It’s the Mopar experience.