Aaron Jones may have sold his first muscle car due to lack of funds, but he’s gone on to create the Dodge Charger of his dreams.
Growing up as a muscle car fan these days has both its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, the internet has made finding parts a far simpler task than ever before. Hell, you don’t even need to actually talk to people, and you can do it while you’re pretending to work (apparently).
On the other hand, cars today are fetching a far higher price than ever before, but due to the internet we’re all well aware of what’s out there and it’s easy to fall in love with a car far outside your budget.
This was the situation Aaron Jones was in. Born a few decades too late to buy his dream Dodge Charger while they were going cheap, Aaron bought the next best thing, a VG Valiant. Owning such a car at a young age wasn’t an easy task. The maintenance required, the cost of upgrading parts and, ultimately, the blowout of a full rebuild got the best of him. While he didn’t want to let the car go, he simply couldn’t afford to keep it.
Many muscle car owners have been in the same situation, and it’s a distressing one. Lucky for Aaron though, his mum was as fond of the car as he was, and took it off his hands to see the rebuild through to completion.
Fast forward a few years, and young Aaron is now 30, and in a position where he can get back into the car scene, albeit with the car he really wanted all along, a 1988 Dodge Charger.
The budget didn’t stretch to a great condition vehicle, but that suited him just fine. After dealing with Kevin Shaw from Timeless Auto Restorations in Palmerston North with the Valiant, he knew Kevin could easily transform an ugly ducking into a swan, so to speak.
With Aaron living in Australia and working in the mines, the whole project was managed by Kevin, with regular phone calls to Australia and shop visits by Aaron’s mum. Of course, on the occasions when Aaron was back home, Timeless would be the first place he’d visit after stepping off the plane.
Like many cars of this age, plenty of panel replacements were required, although none due to rust, which made the big block manual car a good starting point.
A contact of Aaron’s, Tommy White in America, helped with sourcing various parts for the car, and Kevin is grateful for the parts received. With Aaron being based in remote parts of Australia, there wasn’t a lot else to do with his spare time than look on the internet for parts and, of course, look at other Chargers for ideas.
The biggest point of contention between owner and builder was the 18×8 and 20×10-inch Foose Nitrous II rims. Kevin thought they would be too big, Aaron thought they were just right, and what the customer wants, the customer gets. Fitting them did require a slight massaging of the rear wheel arches, but even Kevin now admits they’re perfect for it.
Bringing the wheels closer to the arrow-straight bodywork are the stock torsion bars with heavy-duty shocks and drop spindles up front, along with re-set leaf springs in the rear. To improve the car’s cornering ability, heavy-duty swaybars have been fitted at each end.
With the big wheels, Aaron was well aware of the need for big brakes, and during his internet searches he found just the thing, 4-pot Wilwood callipers for front and rear. With large cross-drilled and slotted rotors on each end and a CPP master cylinder upfront, the brakes not only fill the gap, but work like a charm too… not that Aaron has had a chance to drive it yet.
That’s right, while the car is now complete, Aaron is stuck working in Australia and hasn’t managed to make it back to see his pride and joy in person. His mum, on the other hand, now has the pleasure of having the car in the garage. How cruel is that?
In the next few months though, Aaron will make a trip home to check out the completed car in person. Only then will he know what it’s like to fire the 518ci big block into life.
The engine is based on the 440 RB block that was in the car when purchased, although it’s entirely rebuilt and now includes a stroker kit from 440source.com.
Russell Hausman is the man responsible for screwing the engine together, complete with a custom cam supplied by Snow from Kiwi Cams. Other engine components include Edelbrock alloy heads and matching intake manifold, along with a 750cfm Holley carb and a high-volume mechanical fuel pump. The exhaust side of things is taken care of with Hooker competition headers, which run a 3½-inch collector before joining into a 3-inch system with Flowmaster mufflers. In Kevin’s words, “There ain’t nothing like the sound of a 4-speed and Flowmasters”. And he’s right.
The 4-speed he mentions is a Mopar A883 with all new internals and a McLeod steel flywheel and heavy-duty clutch. This feeds the big block’s power through a one-piece heavy-duty driveshaft to a narrowed 8¾-inch 410 Possie Traction diff. For peace of mind the axles have been replaced with Strange Engineering versions.
Although Aaron may not have heard the engine fire into life as yet, nor had the pleasure of finding out what that much power under your right foot feels like, the level of workmanship on the car is easily visible. Not just that the exterior is immaculate and the engine bay de-loomed, but the undercarriage is also painted and as tidy as the rest of the car. The full leather interior features a Flaming River tilt column, Billet Specialties steering wheel and the must-have factory pistol-grip shifter. Rounding out the package is a bunch of Auto Meter auxiliary gauges.
As yet, the car hasn’t been on a dyno, with Kevin leaving that up to Aaron once he’s back in the country. It’s fair to guess that it will produce more than a horsepower per cubic inch though, making it a very stout package. How Aaron hasn’t jumped on the next available flight to come and check it out for himself yet, we’re not quite sure.
1968 Dodge Charger – Specifications
ENGINE: RB Block 440 bored and stroked to 518ci inches, 440 Source crank and rod kit, forged pistons, custom cam grind, Edelbrock aluminium heads, Edelbrock intake manifold, 750cfm Holley carb, high-volume mechanical pump, MSD 6AL, 8mm MSD leads, MSD billet distributor, Hooker competition headers, 3½-inch collector, small muffler 3-inch pipe leading to Flowmaster Super 44 mufflers, 2½-inch system out the back, custom-made 5-row aluminium radiator running twin electric fans
DRIVELINE: A883 4-speed manual, all brand new internals, McLeod steel flywheel and heavy-duty clutch/pressure plate, narrowed 8¾-inch 410 possie traction diff, Strange Engineering axles, one-piece heavy duty drive shaft
SUSPENSION: Stock torsion bar with heavy duty shocks, Magnum Force 2-inch drop spindles, stock leaf springs, heavy-duty sway bar and shocks
BRAKES: Wilwood drilled and slotted rotors, polished 4 pot callipers, CPP billet master cylinder
WHEELS/TYRES: 18×8 and 20×10-inch Foose Nitrous II rims, 245/40R18 and 295/30R20 tyres
EXTERIOR: Shaved badging and side marker lights, electric opening headlights instead of vacuum operated, new glass, new bumpers, new tail-light lenses Glasurit grey paint, subtle silver bumble bee stripe at rear
INTERIOR: Full leather retrim, Flaming River tilt column, billet speciality steering wheel, factory pistol grip shifter, Auto Meter auxiliary gauges
PERFORMANCE: Torques the torque!
Aaron Jones – Owner Profile
PREVIOUSLY OWNED CARS: 1970 VG Valiant coupe
DREAM CAR: 1968 Dodge Charger
WHY THE CHARGER?: Always wanted one
BUILD TIME: 3½ years
LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: 3½ years
AARON THANKS: Kevin Redshaw at Timeless Auto Restorations, Byron Long at Peter Long Spraypainters, Rom Swierczynski at Rom’s Classic Repairers, Mike Murphy at Classic Auto Electrical, Peter Garth at Auto Interiors, Russell Hausman at Avenue Service Centre, Nigel Cotton at Otahuhu Chrome Platers, Tommy White from America
Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Duncan Rourke
This article is from NZV8 Magazine issue 75. Click here to check it out.