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1969 Charger R/T With Rare Option Hasn't Run in 18 Years, and It's Better Than It Looks

The second-generation Charger was – and still is – the go-to Mopar muscle car of the 60s. Introduced in 1968 after a displeasing sales performance of the 1967 model, the Dodge was an instant hit. The completely new design and the addition of the R/T package reeled four times as many customers as the year before. The Charger’s popularity has never dwindled, and the 1968-1970 iteration of the nameplate is in very high demand nowadays.
1969 Charger R/T last ran in 2006 31 photos
Photo: YouTube/Mind of Matter
1969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 20061969 Charger R/T last ran in 2006
In 1968, the Charger promoted the R/T package without hesitation – the big screen skyrocketed the car chase climax with a Mustang GT in hot pursuit of a sinister Dodge 440 (Bullitt, with Steve McQueen as the protagonist). The following year, the Charger received the most iconic front grille of the moniker, bar none, with the vertical split in the middle.

The 1969 model year was the most prolific for the Road/Track package for the Charger, with around 19,000 units optioned with the go-fast internals. Standard offer was a 440 cubic-inch V8, the majestic 7.2-liter Magnum V8 with a lone four-barrel carburetor. Nonetheless, the big-block was the second-best thing cubic dollars could install behind the hidden headlamps divided by a very in-your-face chrome trim.

375 hp and 480 lb-ft (380 PS, 651 Nm) should have been enough for most tire-smoke adulators, coupled with the Torqueflite three-speed automatic or the no-nonsense four-speed. For those fanatics who thought that wasn’t enough, Dodge offered an option – just one: the 426-incher HEMI-god, with oversized valves made possible by the dome-shaped heads, 425 hp and 490 lb-ft (430 PS, 664 Nm).

1969 Charger R/T last ran in 2006
Photo: YouTube/Mind of Matter
That was it; there was nothing left in Chrysler’s arsenal that could outgun the Street HEMI, so the high-performance Dodge Charger didn’t waste customers’ time with other powertrain choices. However, the mighty engine was a $648 option on a $3,575 standard R/T, and that minor aspect reflected in the sales: out of the 18,776 units assembled for 1969, just 432 came with the HEMI.

The rest had to settle for the 440-4 Magnum motor – like this example featured in the video below. The car has been sitting in a garage in the Chicago area since 2006. The car was in driving condition 18 years ago, but no one has cranked the big V8 since. The complete history of this icon is lost in time, but it had three owners in the last 40 years.

Despite living in a very metal-hungry environment in the Great Lakes area, the coveted speed machine is in reasonably decent shape all around. The owners have kept it inside ‘90% of the time’ (given the Rust Belt’s appetite for car panels, I would take their word on it). The driver’s floor panel is rusted out, and there are minor holes in the body, but the interior of the Charger is almost too good to be true. A green-on-green car, this example features a nice option that sets it apart from its model-year siblings: the bumblebee stripe-delete.

1969 Charger R/T last ran in 2006
Photo: YouTube/Mind of Matter
Instead, it sports the R/T emblems on the rear fenders, right at the end of the added pinstripes. Like any self-respectable garage find, it proudly ears a thick and dense layer of dust on the outside. The motor has 104,571 miles on it (about 168,000 metric clicks), and the owners probably had comfortable fun in it since the car has air conditioning.

The car underwent a rebuild in 1989, and the Magnum V8 received an acid degreasing (block and heads) before being fitted with a Crane camshaft, new valve lifters and springs, and a timing chain set. Also, a pair of valves from one cylinder got a new set of seats and guides. The bearings, gaskets, pumps (fuel, oil, and water), pushrods, and freeze plugs were all replaced.

The V8 was bored 0.040” (1.01 mm), so it’s technically a 448 cubic-inch now (7.34-liter), with the crank journals shaved 0.030” (0.76 mm). I’d say that those 100,000 miles were not just cruise-along joyrides over weekends with the whole family inside, but that’s just wishful thinking. However, the R/T was a solid quarter-mile performer. Super Stock & Drag Illustrated magazine tested one in April 1969 and clocked 13.83 seconds at 102.2 miles per hour (164.44 kph).

1969 Charger R/T last ran in 2006
Photo: YouTube/Mind of Matter
The transmission and front end were also overhauled over the years; some parts were replaced (carb, distributor, exhaust), and the brake system was rebuilt in 2004. The project added stainless steel brake lines and sleeved calipers, new hoses, wheel cylinders, pads, master cylinder/power assist booster, and silicone brake fluid.

The original radio is not in the car anymore. Still, a CB unit is present – that’s what the big antenna on the deck lid is for – and the vehicle has a clean Illinois title. The YouTuber who found this gem didn’t attempt to start the car, and the trunk and glove box are locked (not that there’d be something of much interesting to dig up from either place).

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About the author: Razvan Calin
Razvan Calin profile photo

After nearly two decades in news television, Răzvan turned to a different medium. He’s been a field journalist, a TV producer, and a seafarer but found that he feels right at home among petrolheads.
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