SPE­CIAL DE­LIV­ERY

A 1968 Charger that checks all the boxes

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - TEXT AND PHO­TOS BY CAM BENTY AND BOB MEHLHOFF

He spot­ted the clas­sic Mopar along his de­liv­ery route — and the rest is his­tory.

Troy Bolton, a UPS driver for over 30 years now, spot­ted this very orig­i­nal ’68 Charger in the drive­way of a cus­tomer on his route. Upon de­liv­er­ing the pack­age, the cus­tomer asked Bolton if he wanted to buy his car. Bolton was well aware of the Charger, the cur­rent owner hav­ing driven the car ev­ery day in his north­ern Cal­i­for­nia neigh­bor­hood. It took only a short time to make the sale.

“I had de­signs on putting some big tires un­der the car and mod­i­fy­ing the sus­pen­sion to make it han­dle bet­ter than stock,” said Bolton. “Even though the car was match­ing num­bers from the en­gine to the rear end, it did not have the orig­i­nal fender trim tag that states the car’s true his­tory. For that rea­son, I planned to paint it red, slam it to the ground, and build a crazy en­gine.”

Things were to change quite quickly when af­ter three months of driv­ing the car, the en­gine be­gan to lose oil pres­sure at idle — a sure sign that the en­gine was on its last rev­o­lu­tions. With a tired en­gine, Bolton parked the car in his garage … for 17 years. In the mean­time, he raised kids, bought two houses, and put the Mopar up for sale sev­eral times. It was while a fu­ture owner was mak­ing pay­ments that he found a miss­ing link in the car’s his­tory.

That miss­ing fender trim tag showed up quite unan­nounced one day when he got a let­ter from a re­cently re­tired mem­ber of the mil­i­tary whose mother had died. In her things, he found the Charger’s fender tag and tracked Bolton down through the DMV. The two met in San Fran­cisco, the mid­point be­tween them, and made the hand off.

“That was quite a sur­prise for me,” pro­claimed Bolton. “It was a miss­ing piece of the puz­zle that led to my re­search­ing

the Charger’s true lin­eage. It turns out that it is only 1 of 259 383-cid Mag­nu­me­quipped four-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion ’68 Charg­ers. From that point on, it was clear that I was des­tined to re­turn the car to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion.”

Mopar trim tags de­note the orig­i­nal equip­ment added to the ve­hi­cle at the time of the build. These tags were sim­ply screwed to the driver-side fend­er­well with a pair of pan head screws. With the ex­cep­tion of tak­ing lib­er­ties with the ex­te­rior color (the car was orig­i­nally Tur­bine Bronze Metal­lic), Bolton’s Charger sports all of the orig­i­nal con­tent.

The Charger’s restora­tion was ac­tu­ally well un­der­way when Bolton re­ceived the trim tag, so he de­cided to stay the course with the R-4 Red ex­te­rior and changed from the orig­i­nal black to the cur­rent Pearl White in­te­rior upholstery. Mike Es­tournes of Lakeville Auto Body in Pe­taluma, Cal­i­for­nia, is re­spon­si­ble for the paint tak­ing seven months to per­fect the body and ap­ply the paint. The assem­bly of the car took an­other two years to com­plete with

Bolton and his wife, Re­becca, tak­ing their time to get things just right. Bolton’s Charger is a strik­ing ex­am­ple of one of the most rec­og­nized shapes in mus­cle car his­tory.

“I spent a huge amount of time re­search­ing and then track­ing down the right parts to re­turn this car to ‘bet­ter than orig­i­nal’ con­di­tion,” Bolton said. “Ev­ery panel has been mas­saged to fit, the only non-orig­i­nal body panel be­ing the front driver-side fender, which took some time to get it per­fect.”

The 383-cid Mag­num en­gine was built by John Spease, from En­gine Dy­nam­ics. He did all of the ma­chine work and assem­bly. The 383-cid Mag­num en­gine uses the cylin­der heads from the larger dis­place­ment 440-cid en­gine (fea­tur­ing 0.14-inch larger di­am­e­ter ex­haust valves

and cus­tom bowl work) used to in­crease air­flow into the com­bus­tion cham­bers, the 440-cid en­gine camshaft (0.525-inch lift) and an all-new Carter AVS 4-BBL carburetor. The re­sult is a step up from the orig­i­nal fac­tory power out­put of 335 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque.

Clearly Bolton’s de­sire to make this car per­fect has been achieved. Awards from its first out­ing at the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia-based 2018 Spring Fling are just the be­gin­ning of the ac­co­lades headed his way. Cer­tainly few would’ve fig­ured that the Charger he spot­ted along his route and then stored for 17 years in his garage would ever achieve this re­sult. It just goes to show you, Bolton can de­liver — in many ways — with the help of a few good friends and fam­ily.

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The 383-cid Mag­num en­gine with four-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion in this ’68 Charger was an ex­tremely rare com­bi­na­tion; only 259 Charg­ers were equipped in this man­ner.

If the phrase, “This car is so clean you could eat off it” were ever ap­pro­pri­ate, it ap­plies to this Charger. Note the fi­nal de­tail work per­formed on the front sus­pen­sion.

The Hurst shifter and vac­uum gauge mounted near the stock shifter have been re­worked to de­liv­ered orig­i­nal style per­for­mance. Fac­tory mounted vac­uum gauges were very pop­u­lar dur­ing this era as a way to de­ter­mine op­ti­mum en­gine ef­fi­ciency.

The ’68 rear tail­lights were a one-yearonly style with the two round lights and backup lights tucked into the area above the lights. Many Mopar fans be­lieve this to be the clean­est of all Charger of­fer­ings.

This elu­sive Trim Data Plate was to dras­ti­cally al­ter the di­rec­tion Bolton would take with the Charger’s fi­nal form. A Good Samar­i­tan tracked him down and re­turned the plate to Bolton – an amaz­ing stroke of luck.

The vac­uum-op­er­ated hidden head­light cov­ers are one of the fea­tures that made the ’68 Charger so pop­u­lar.

Two very rare op­tions found on this Charger are front and rear elec­tric hood and trunk latch re­lease sys­tems.

The re­worked but per­fectly re­stored to orig­i­nal con­fig­u­ra­tion 383-cid Mag­num en­gine fea­tures 440-cid en­gine cylin­der heads and a high-lift camshaft. The turquoise blue en­gine paint is fac­tory cor­rect for this en­gine.

The at­ten­tion to de­tail un­der­hood is amaz­ing, right down to the color-cod­ing on the carburetor re­turn spring. Along with the ef­forts to bring the parts up to orig­i­nal style, note that all of the date codes are cor­rect for this vin­tage of Chrysler in­clud­ing the stamp­ing on the al­ter­na­tor bracket that sig­ni­fies it was con­structed in 1967 for this late 1967 build date.

Troy Bolton, and his wife, Re­becca, are ex­tremely proud of their ef­forts to bring the Charger up to show win­ning stature.

The li­cense plate proclaims to all the rare na­ture of this Charger, a four-speed ’68!

As has been well doc­u­mented by now, Bolton spent a huge amount of time de­tail­ing out the Charger. The grille is es­pe­cially note­wor­thy — each seg­ment of the grille was first taped off to leave the out­side Ar­gent Sil­ver un­touched be­fore all of Satin Black ar­eas were hand-painted by Kolor Kor­rect.

The re­pro­duc­tion Red­line tires are slightly over­sized but work per­fectly with these re­stored Mag­num 500 wheels.

The trunk hasn’t been omit­ted from this restora­tion ef­fort; ev­ery­thing is just as it was back in 1968, in­clud­ing the red­line spare and jack.

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