It may have taken Cameron Moore 32 years to get the car of his dreams, but for Moore, it was well worth the wait.Standing next to his 1966 Dodge Charger with a 426 street-Hemi engine and four-speed gearbox, Moore explained all the little nuances of the car that an average car enthusiast might miss. For example, the rear fender of the car actually is overlaid with another fender. The soldering line is hidden under a thin line of silver trim that runs up the side of the car.
The 426 Hemi engine is designed so the car could be driven off the showroom floor and onto the stock car track. It can go so fast it would have blown out the rear window had they not designed airflow vents that vent into the trunk. At 141 miles an hour, the rear end of the car lifts off the road. This was fixed by Dodge by installing an inch-high wing on the rear trunk.
"It's a driver," Moore said.He explained that some owners trailer their cars from show to show, but not Moore. He bought the car to drive. It's healthier for the engine to drive it. Some years back, he was invited to an event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and he had the opportunity to drive the Charger around the track. One of the other Charger owners had his car die while he was out on the track. His car was a "Trailer Queen," said Moore with a laugh. The man had no idea there was anything wrong with the transmission until he had attempted to drive it farther than on and off the trailer.
It is clear Moore loves his car, an affair that started when he was 15 years old. In those days, Moore explained, getting your driver's license was a big deal. So he scrimped and saved the money he earned mowing lawns, delivering newspapers and whatever other odd jobs he could find so that someday when he turned 16 he could buy his own car. He was watching the 1966 Super bowl when he saw a commercial come on for the new Dodge Charger. It was love at first sight.
The Charger came in five different engine styles with the most expensive being the one with the 426 street Hemi engine. Moore wanted that car but he could only afford the lower end model. So at age 15 he ordered his 383-Charger from Frick Motors in Michigan City, the car arrived a month before he could take his driver's license test.
He drove the car all through college, easily turning over the odometer at 100,000. It was the salt of the Michigan highways that eventually killed the car, rusting out the body. He got married, had a family and it was in 1993 when he bought his next 1966 charger, a 318 poly version that his son helped him restore. His son had spotted the car in an auction corral at the Kruse Auction. It wasn't until 1998 he was able to purchase the silver Dodge Charger with a 426 hemi, four-speed transmission and red interior from a man in Nova Scotia. As luck would have it, the car had only one owner before, and he had lived in California. The car had no rust.
He bought the car. Feeling a little guilty about having two expensive toys while he was putting his son through college, he sold the 318. Once his son finished school, he was able to buy the very same car back. It now has a bigger engine, a hemi 426 crate engine that gives it a lot of get up and go. It has an automatic transmission so his wife will occasionally take it out for a spin. The plate on the back reads "Mrs. Hemi."
Moore had the good fortune of meeting the man who had designed the Charger, Carl Cameron, and they became friends. It was through Cameron that he learned many of the nuances of the car. For example the 1966 had blue lined tires, Cameron told him this was because the G.T.O. already had red lines, in 1967 the Charger went to red lines on their wheels as well. The charger emblem is not a stylized "C" as many people think, but instead an arrow. The grill medallion is known as a "fratzog" which was a word they invented just for that car.
June is the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Charger, and there will be an event in Michigan at the Dodge Chrysler Museum. Moore has been invited to bring his car to display.
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