The Best Things I Bought This Year for My 1969 Dodge Charger
My project car owns me, not the other way around. But here’s how I found some rare items to get it where I want it.
When the boss told the team to write a piece about the best things we bought for ourselves over the past year, it was made clear to mostly include items that are relevant to the car-addict lifestyle. It was pretty easy for me to come up with a list. As I mention way too often, I am the proud owner of a 1969 Dodge Charger. It's both a project and my daily driver, and pretty much all of my time and money goes into that. It's a money pit, but a money pit I love. I also buy a lot of used goods, which I’m not sure they were after when assigning this, but it’s the only way I can afford to eat and drive this car.
And it's very hard to find quality parts for these cars in today’s auto-parts stores. So, I guess we'll talk a little about some of the best successes I've had in looking for treasure in another man’s trash.
To give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the personal shopping carts of The Drive’s gear team, myself, Commerce Managing Editor Jonathon Klein, and editor Kara Snow, are detailing what we bought ourselves this year because what’s good enough for us is good enough for you.
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Mallory Dual-Point Distributor
Nope, I'm not trying to be edgy or echo the opinions of my heroes, but by the time Mopar Carlisle 2021 rolled around, I'd had it with the cheaply made electronic ignition components available to me. Don't get me wrong: the learning curve is real, and it's certainly not maintenance-free. However, I haven't been stuck with a dead ignition since rolling with my discontinued Mallory. That and the fact that I landed it for just $80 makes it the single best purchase I've made all year.
.50-Calibre Ammo Can and Plano Stowaways
The same guy who sold me the Mallory gave me a deal on some Holley carburetor parts packed into a Plano stowaway. I’m admittedly terrible with organization, so I took the idea and ran with it. It turns out that these Plano 3600 organizers, typically used for fishing tackle, fit perfectly in a .50-caliber ammo can that I keep behind the passenger seat. Bonus points: it helps me feel a little more badass.
Carrol Shelby’s Speed Secrets, Direct Connection Books
Did you know Carroll Shelby and Direct Connection joined forces to make tech guides? Is there any better recipe to inspire impulse buying? Despite a publish date of 1984, there's some seriously killer information in here about the platform I'm working with. Right now, it's all just fodder to annoy my coworkers with, but there are some big plans in the works because of it. Thanks for giving me more reasons to blow my money, Mr. Shelby.
Mickey Thompson 275 Sportsman ST
I didn't buy used rubber, but I think getting a decent set of MT Sportsman tires out back is worth a mention. Throwing them on is every bit as awesome as I thought it could be. Well, I actually botched the offset, I’m not totally in love with the stance, and I'm terrified to attempt hard launches and burnouts with the light-duty Chrysler 8.25 rear end between them. However, the aforementioned books have given me the tools I need to sort out at least two of those issues in one stroke.
Used Accel Super Coils
Yes, I can afford a new Accel Super Coil, but why do that when I can nab used ones for $5 a pop at swap meets? Trust me, they're every bit as reliable as folks tell you they are. The one in the Charger is the same one my dad ran back in the ‘80s and it’s still truckin’. They take up a lot of real estate, but they work, and that's all I care about.
Used Mac Angle-Head Wrenches
I was on the hunt for angle-head wrenches to deal with the horribly placed exhaust header bolts. It's always a song and dance with regular combination wrenches. These old Mac wrenches came as a set, and I'm glad they did. Since taking them home, I've used them more than any other wrenches in my collection because of the approach angles they allow me to take.
Holley 6212 800 CFM Spread Bore
Everyone has a weird fetish and carbs are mine. Heck, I might just be more loyal to Holley than I am to Mopar. I was actually meeting up with a retired mechanic who was selling a lot of speed wrenches (another great buy for 2021) when he told me about his weird, mechanical-secondary spread-bore Holley he’d sell to me for $100. Holley does still produce this configuration, but it is limited to 650 CFM. It may be nothing more than a shelf piece right now, but it's something I poke and probe all too often to leave out of this discussion.
And Another 440 Engine
I have no shortage of Chrysler B/RB engines at my disposal, but you can always use another backup, right? When the opportunity presented itself to grab a forged-crank 440 that isn't in need of much help for $300, I jumped on it. Without a truck, I loaded it into the trunk of the Charger and headed home. During that ride home, I just might have been the only person in the world with two 440s in a second-gen Dodge Charger, and it was nothing short of incredible — even if it was just a fancy 600-pound ballast. It's just collecting dust right now, but with my new books and some more used parts, I'm pretty sure we can have some real fun.