For those who can't wait for Dodge to debut the new Charger, Time Machines has the solution. Mike Staveski and his team have been restoring and customizing street rods and musclecars for almost a decade. Their latest endeavors have included maintaining the timeless Detroit steel bodies and fusing them with the technology and styling of the 21st Century. The latest musclecar icon brought through time was this 1968 Dodge Charger R/T.
Let's warp back 36 years to a time when Mopar was becoming the bully on the hot streets of the musclecar era, circa 1968. This was the year that Dodge decided to change the body styling of the Charger to make it more appealing and to compliment the already dominant Hemi engine. The new body lines gave the illusion of a forward charging look. Many cues were taken from aircraft styling (called fuselage styling) with simulated waste gates in the hood and door panels, cockpit styled interior, and the fender-mounted quick-fill gas cap. A sporty version known as the R/T was fitted with improved suspension, heavy-duty brakes, dual exhaust, and who can forget the 440 six-pack engine. For those wanting their prey to be warned, optional war paint could be added in the form of rear deck lid "bumble bee" stripes. The Charger accounted for 16 percent of all Dodge car sales in 1968 and sold over 4.5 times more than the previous year. Needless to say, the new features were a hit and still unforgettable to its victims.
Stepping forward to 2004, Mike was asked by Mopar Performance to come up with a car to showcase their new crate hemi engine and promote the new Charger nameplate at the SEMA show in Las Vegas just months out. He just so happened to have one of Mopar's baddest street bruisers "sitting around the shop waiting for a project" just like that. With a tight deadline and long list of modern upgrades, Mike and his crew had their hands full, but since they do all the work in house from start to finish, they were able to eliminate some lag time. Mike says, "About the only thing we don't do in house is the body blasting and the final alignment." We think that still qualifies them as a "one-stop shop."
Not only did Time Machines not have to look for a car, but Mike also said the one they had was "the most rust-free Charger I have ever seen in my life." The body was sent off to get stripped using a media called black magic coal. They found this method to be the most desirable and it presents the best results. This media removes all the paint and any Bondo without retaining any moisture. With a nice evenly etched surface on the almost already perfect shell, a sealer was applied in preparation for the paint booth. Everything was shot in PPG Viper Red, which is fitting with the "new-old" theme. The stock style R/T "bumble bee" black stripes were added to the rear deck, only adding to the racy styling. Our friends at Year One delivered all new weather stripping, trim, and other accent pieces.
Once the body was restored to better-than-new condition, focusing on the chassis was the first step to improve the handling and look of a modern vehicle. The stock front suspension from the factory wasn't built to handle like new-age performance cars and usually left a lot to be desired. Time Machines scrapped the entire front suspension in favor of a full bolt-in custom unit by Alter'K'tion. This system uses all the latest in performance parts including tubular upper and lower control arms fitted with stiffer polyurethane bushings, Flaming River rack and pinion steering, custom-valved AFCO coil-over shocks, Mustang II style spindles, and a rigid steel fabricated frame. This system doesn't just look good; it's designed to perform well too. All aspects of suspension design were considered by eliminating bump steer problems present in lowered stock suspensions, optimizing Ackerman to provide rail-like tracking and efficient low-speed turning, caster and king pin angle were set to improve stability, and an almost linear negative camber curve keeps the tire contact patch to a maximum around corners with smooth feedback to the driver. The upper control arms have adjustable rod ends to provide an almost limitless amount of adjustment. All together, this bolt-in clip can be up to 130 lbs. lighter than a stock manual steering setup; it provides maximized ground clearance, and best of all, no modifications are needed to install it.
The rear suspension retained the more-than-capable heavy-duty leaf springs with 1-inch lowering blocks. Baer disc brakes with 14-inch rotors in front (13-inch out back) were added with intentions of spine-cracking stopping force. To compliment the already sinister stance, 20-inch and 18-inch Colorado Custom Alcatraz wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich G-Force tires were mounted to fill the wheel wells. Transmitting the power to the rear corners is a Strange S60 Dana rearend with 4.10 gears. You can't have a mean Mopar without a Hurst pistol grip shifter, so Keisler was contacted to provide the Tremec 5-speed.
All these goodies are brought to life with a new-style 5.7L Hemi crate engine from Mopar Performance, topped off with a Holley carburetor in true nostalgic style. This particular crate motor is advertised at a maximum 360 horsepower and torque. Even though the block had to been re-engineered from the 1960s version for today's standards, it is still worthy of the hemi name by retaining the hemispherically shaped combustion chambers. This design allows two large valves in conjunction with two spark plugs mounted close to the center to ignite the rumbling Hemi sound and providing excellent flow and efficiency through the aluminum heads. The melodic Hemi tones exit through a 2.5-inch Flowmaster exhaust system. The engine was topped off with a unique air cleaner fabricated by Time Machines' Phil Somers and finished in the same Viper red with its own matching "bumble bee" stripes.
The interior is where this car really starts to show its "modern elegant style," as Mike puts it. The dash and console were hand fabricated using mirror-finished wood retrofitted with Mopar Performance gauges. Mike wanted to do something different while still following the original wood grain look. Late-model seats were sliced and diced until the desired shape was achieved. The seats and door panels were then covered in a stunning suede type alcantara material. Modern comforts like power windows and Hot Rod Air only make this machine more enjoyable to drive. And as if the Hemi wasn't enough music to your ears, more lung-collapsing sound is produced with the help of an Alpine CD deck talking to Polk Audio speakers and subs powered by three amplifiers generating 2,600 watts.
Only about eight miles have been put on the Charger since its completion, so no one could testify on the performance as of yet. Mike said "it was kind of a thrash to get it done and no, we won't do a car in two months for other clients." Well, if they can produce a car like this in that short of time, imagine what kind of machine they can build when they're not rushed!