This past Friday I took a vacation day off from work to renew my license at the Department Of Motor Vehicles. Nothing serious- just a new thumbprint and photo, as well as a vision test. With the rest of my day free afterwards, I decided to take care of some other personal business. That’s when I chanced upon two aged beauties, just 2 miles and 10 minutes apart.
After leaving the DMV I headed to Frio Automotive, a small independent shop in Westchester, Ca., to get my daily driver ’95 Lexus smogged. For many years, Frio’s has been my official “go to” shop for handling vehicle repairs that I myself am too lazy, tired, insufficiently skilled, or strapped for time to deal with. In the past they’ve done many repairs on my Lexus, including the dreaded timing belt / tensioner / water pump replacement. They do excellent work and charge very fair prices, and I highly recommend them to anyone. The manager, Mike, and the service writer, Cliff, are great guys who really know their stuff.
My history with Frio and its senior staff goes back nearly three decades. When I started taking automotive repair classes at El Camino College in the winter of 1987, I met the guy who would eventually become my best bud, also named Chris. He worked at Frio’s old location, a Chevron station on La Tijera next to the 405, as the nighttime cashier and occasional mechanic.
Me and several of our other mutual friends would occasionally drop by and shoot the breeze with Chris, Mike, Cliff, and whoever else happened to be on duty. My dad also knows Cliff from another Chevron station he worked at many years before, where my dad was a frequent customer.
The old garage was demolished and the property remodeled a long time ago. It’s still a Chevron station, still owned by the same family, but now sports a mini-market with a Wendy’s restaurant inside.
The smog check was a washout due to Mike’s only smog technician quitting and moving out of the country just days earlier, but I did get to thoroughly examine this gorgeous ’73 Dodge Charger SE. When Mike saw me snapping pics, he nicely allowed me to take pics of the inside and under the hood as well. For a long time I never cared for this generation of Charger at all, but in recent years they’ve grown on me.
The owner is a longtime customer of Frio’s, and has owned this brown beauty for many years. I’ve seen this car here before, but never really got to check it out until now. On the day I snapped these pics, one of Frio’s mechanics had just finished installing a four barrel manifold on the car’s swapped-in 340, replacing the two-barrel that it wore for many years.
By 1973, Dodge’s legendary musclecar had moved firmly into Brougham territory. The top-of-the-line SE model took it to an even further extent, as demonstrated by this plush interior. Rich-looking seat upholstery complete with button tufting, generous amounts of woodgrain trim, a full vinyl roof, and the unique triple opera windows make this Charger seem more like a downsized Imperial than a psuedo-musclecar. I have to admit that it does look rather comfy in there, even if a bit dark.
Another nice touch are these fiber optic turn signal indicators. I never even knew that those were available on these cars, until I saw this one. You learn something new every day, I guess.
The heart of the beast- 340 cubic inches’ worth of small block Mopar topped with an Edelbrock intake and big Holley four barrel. I don’t know the engine’s specs, but if it goes as good as it looks, this is the view you’re most likely to see if you challenge it:
This generation of Charger pales in comparison to its swoopy and menacing-looking predecessor, but standing on its own, it’s not that bad. I certainly wouldn’t kick one out of my driveway. With the right color combination, they can look quite handsome as long as you keep the JC Whitney / Fast And Furious crowd away from them. I hope this one gives its owner many more years of driving enjoyment.
And now for something completely different, we move from America’s heartland to the balmy Mediterranean- car wise, that is. After arriving at my backup smog place, I spied this sexy Italian at the small repair shop next door. Like all aging sex goddesses, this one needed to have a bit of work done, as evidenced by the multiple fender covers and missing front decklid.
The mechanic on duty explained that the owner of this 1978 Ferrari 308GTS had just recently moved from Florida and brought the car with him. He’s owned it for many years and it was in the shop receiving extensive repairs including a new radiator, brake master cylinder, pads, calipers, and other stuff. He said just finding replacement parts for these cars can be a real challenge, never mind the cost when you do find them.
From a distance it doesn’t look too bad, but up close you can tell that this particular Ferrari’s existence has been less than pampered:
That little bit of rot isn’t terrible, but it does make one wonder what more is lurking beneath the shiny black paint and in the dark, hidden crevices of the bodywork.
Another sign of a rather hard life is this car’s interior, which has clearly seen better days. Note the severely cracked and worn leather upholstery, the aftermarket ignition switch crudely mounted to the center console, and the control stalk for the aftermarket radio. Also note the fire extinguisher- a wise addition when you consider how mid-engine Italian sports cars often have a tendency to spontaneously combust.
I have to admit being slightly taken aback by how small the stock rollers are on this car. 14 inches??? Even the lowly Volkswagen Beetle of that era rides on bigger wheels than that.
Overall, the car isn’t in that bad a shape and has a lot of potential. The fact that it is being fixed, as well as the old Florida “ANTIQUE” plates, indicates an owner who knows what he has and is trying to bring the car back to its former glory. I wish him the best of luck. Living with a sex symbol is never easy.
The license plate collector in me wants the back plate on that Charger to be rubbed out and waxed, so it would gleam like the rest of the car.
Those “fiber optic turn signal indicators” on the Dodge aren’t fiber optic. Remove the Phillips head screw on top, and the housing lifts off to reveal a light bulb in a socket. The same indicators were popular on the higher-line Plymouth Valiant and Dodge Dart for a long time too, in addition to being on the midsize models.
I must admit that the Dodge appeals to me more than does the Ferrari. Perhaps it’s because of the deplorably-hacked condition of the Ferrari, or because still burned into my memory is one of those in flames by the side of the road. Or maybe it’s due to the honest respect that the Dodge has had bestowed on it, looking mighty good into its fourth decade.
My brother’s 1973 Plymouth ‘cuda 340 (yes it was a real one) had those fender turn indicators too. They didn’t worm but a trip to U Pull A Part yielded a ’78 Volare with the very same units. They worked perfect too.
I meant “work.” 🙂
Was trying to imagine them “worming” perfectly. Popping up from the fender and bobbing around, maybe? 😉
My aunt had a ’76 Town & Country with them, and you could even get them on the early Omni/Horizon!
They were on the early model AU market Chrysler/Mitsubishi Sigma too! That SE badging looks very Sigma as well
Chrysler parts bin in those days. I can’t remember if they did an SE version of the Valiant though.
The 340 was used in a limited number of Chrysler Valiant Chargers in Australia, but in the aftermath of the ‘Supercar Scare’ that killed of the homologation-special muscle cars its use in a high-performance car was not politically viable, so while it kept the 4-bbl carb it was restricted by an auto trans and single exhaust and snuck through as a 770 SE instead of an R/T.
I run hot and cold on those Chargers, but this one is attractive to me. I don’t think you ever saw many of these with 340s. It seemed that 318s, 360s and 400s were the most common. Then there was the slant 6/3 speed strippo that my college roomie owned (a red 74).
BTW, those fender mounted turn signals were not fiber optics, but wired light bulbs. I think it was Cadillac (and other big GM cars) that led the switch to fiber optics for the fender indicators. Chrysler, however, kept it old-school until it did away with them altogether.
I’ve never seen a 340 Charger,presumably A bodies & E bodies had first call on the 340 and that’s why they’re so thin on the ground.I’ve seen a 340 Roadrunner from the same period.
I think the 340 was added to the B-bodies belatedly, perhaps in part because it wasn’t exactly ideal for the heavier cars — the 340 was quite oversquare and was tuned for power rather than torque. If I recall, it was added to the B-body mainly because they needed something in between the 318 and the 383/400, which was more expensive to insure. The 340 was only offered on the Charger for two years before it was replaced completely by the 360 and I think even in those two years, the 340 got the 360 heads.
I always thought that the 1968-1973 Mopar 340 was A- and E-body only, never knew it was in a B-body.
Originally it was indeed a premium-gas-only high-performance engine, more here: http://www.allpar.com/mopar/mopar340.html
Yes, the 340 (240 net hp) was available only in the ’72 and ’73 B-Bodies. By 1974, it was just the 360.
Something about a swapped-in 340 with a two barrel doesn’t ring quite true (since there was no such thing) . More likely a 360 two-barrel, as these were very common motors.
340s were also available in 1971 Super Bees as well as 1972-73 Charger Rallyes and their Plymouth counterparts
but the engine in that Charger is a big block and definitely NOT a 340 (the distributor is in the front) The narrow lifter valley looks like it could be a low deck engine like a 383 or a 400, and a 400 could have come in that car stock with a 2 bbl.
I rode in/drove several of these Charger/Satellite models from the early 1970’s.
The 318 engine, combined with Mopar’s always excellent 3 speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, usually putting power back to the 3.23 geared differential, gave plenty of bottom end “grunt” and a smooth flow of power all thru the rpm range. Yet it didn’t feel or sound like it was straining while cruising around 75 mph.
Although not blindingly fast, I don’t recall ever wishing for more power or considering the car “gutless”.
I recall it as being a “Real World” enjoyable and livable powertrain.
I seem to recall reading somewhere that this powertrain combo was Mopar’s lowest warranty claim item; even lower than the slant 6 engine.
…and don’t forget the 340 Duster….that 340 was a strong little bitch. In any Chrysler.
Agree! My first new car, a ’73 Dart, 340-4BBl engine, 4 speed “Hurst Shifter” transmission, mellow sounding factory dual exhaust (with those Mopar rectangle chrome below bumper tips), white wall tires with wheel covers, was the ultimate “plain wrapper” “sleeper”.
More than one pumply faced kid, in his loud/no mufflered, rear end jacked up Camaro/Mustang/Cutlass/Impala/whatever got his headlights sucked out by what appeared to be his Grandma’s Duster/Demon.
Hot and cold is a good description of my feelings as for the Charger as well. The exterior is a guilty pleasure, and some interior elements are cool as well. But, finding that awful plastic wood in the interior is about as shocking as the dead rabbit my neighbor’s cat dropped in my window well and I found while cleaning up leaves.Truly repellent.
That wood had to have help sell a lot of Montes and Torinos.
GM did do fiber optics, I’m aware of at least as early as the ’68 full size Chevy. I had the full boat optics option on my ’82 Delta 88. I’m not sure about the early indicator lights on Cadillacs. I know I’ve seen them on the ’65 / ’66 cars. No idea if those are just incadescent bulbs.
Those indicators were always a cool featue on Mopars. Hard to believe they were on early Omnirizons. It was sort of sad to see them go.
My 63 Cadillac used bulbs on its fender-mounted signal indicators. I was thinking that they went to fiber optics in the 71 models, but I could be wrong. I know that my father’s 1970 Mark III used fiber optics for the taillight indicators above the rear window and viewable through the rear view mirror.
The other cool feature that the Mopar Light Group got you was the little teeny spotlight that shone on the ignition key. It sure made it pleasant finding the keyhole at night. My 71 Scamp was pretty well appointed and had the Light Group.
I’ve seen a marketing piece that promoted fiber optics for the ’68 full-size Chevy, and of course, I can’t find it now.
But, this article seems pretty consistent with your thoughts, as well as mine….
I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the key spotlight in Mopars, but I have seen the light up ring around the column mounted ignition switches. I think the M body Fifth Avenue had such a feature and may have been among the last. Cool touches that make me think Mopar.
When these Chargers were new I thought they were both interesting and attractive. Then I found out the lower priced models had very plain interiors. I’d rather have had a small engined SE than a big engined Charger which was really just a Coronet 2 door.
As far as the Ferrari? This particular car “wears” black quite well, yet I don’t care for the tan interior. A red interior would look so much better (IMHO) and I’m not talking about the sorry condition of this car. Red would just look more striking.
BTW, it’s my opinion that the Charger on Burn Notice should get “co-star” status.
A 340 with a 2-barrel carburetor and a single exhaust seems like an odd application for an engine synonymous with performance. I don’t think I’ve ever looked into sales numbers for the 3rd generation Chargers, but they were very popular in the townhouse complex I lived in in 1977. There was practically one in every row of cars. I was a fan of the first two generations, so I didn’t really appreciate them when they were serving as Dodge’s Monte Carlos. They have aged gracefully though, even if I’m not in favor of shortening wheelbases while growing overhangs.
The Ferrari’s 14 inch wheels are to be celebrated. At least it wasn’t delivered on TRX wheels!
Like the 206/246 Dino before them, I always thought the 308 GTB/GTS series looked their best in black. I saw one parked in downtown Richmond one night many years ago, and it resembled a fierce but obedient panther awaiting its master.
Black is a good color for them, I always remember the black 308 that James Woods drives in “Against all Odds” (good car chase too, involving a 911 convertible) and Willem DaFoe’s black 308 in “To Live and Die in L.A”
IMO, one of the best pulse pounding, heart stopping, breath taking away Hollywood chase scenes ever done.
It is a fantastic chase, have you ever seen the one in To Live and Die in L.A.? It doesn’t involve the Ferrari, but its still a good chase.
I know a lad (a companion in our local amcar club) who had got rid of his 1963 Cadillac to the favor of a same kinda Charger… I really don’t know if IT wears the SE…but…it’s IT! Neat example. I don’t what to say ’bout Ferrari. Probably it gives heartpounding experiences to someone…
There were no factory 340’s with 2-barrel carbs. 340s were strictly performance engines, with a 4-bbl. carb or, in 1970 only, a 3×2-bbl. (ie:six-pack) setup. I see you said that the 340 had been swapped-in, so presumably the 2-bbl. from the engine it replaced was initially installed.
The 308 is one of my favorite Ferraris; glad to see this one is getting some attention hopefully on the way to a full revialization. The shape just says “Ferrari” to me more so than any other. These Chargers, on the other hand, have grown on me in recent years. There’s something quite appealing about the overall shape and the details, like the triple opera windows and the big loop bumper, are first-rate.
I am certain that is not a 340 in that Charger. 340s are in the LFA (small block 270-318-360) engine family, which has the distributor in the rear, and exhaust manifolds that exit south, not north.
The engine pictured is a big block–either a 400 or 440 if date correct. Yes, the 400 was available with a 2 barrel carb. Big block Chryslers are easily identified by the slanted front mounted distributor. They are notorious for stalling out in heavy rain—the engine fan would direct rainwater directly at the distributor cap. Water would get into the points…and then…nothing,
Right you are! None of us bothered to really look at it.
I really should have noticed that…..
In my first quick glance at the headline I read “slutty Italian”.
Yeah, I was thinking more ‘pornstar’ than ‘sex goddess’, as well. It’s no Sophia Loren.
That radio in the 308 is aftermarket, but it is period correct, it looks like an old Blaupunkt “goosneck” equalizer, I think a good number of Ferraris from this era were imported without radios and then the high end audio system of your choice was installed by the dealer.
I like the wear on the Ferrari, it shows that it was driven. I always liked the 308, probably because of Magnum P.I.
I saw a 308 recently, and they look so small today, almost like a toy, it was surprising how low and little the 308 looked next to modern cars.
Your absolutely right, I think that Blaupunkt cost over $500: it was way up in the unaffordium stratosphere. I remember seeing a version as a teen shopping for a tape deck in a high end hifi store, ended up with a Realistic with surprisingly good Jensens. I think it also had volume and scan/ seek on the pod, a solid choice considering the reach of the deck position, with plenty of clean watts for the MB Quartz, Infinty Emit (loved those), or Jamo cans. I’d bet the sound is better than modern equipment.
Totally agree, glad to see her getting used as Enzo intended, too many owners think they have future 250 GTOs, Mona Lisas, and such silliness. These were mass produced.
Saw a NSX yesterday, they’re shockingly tiny, too. My mind tends to exaggerate the size of these type of cars!
I remember the Alpine “six crystal” and its big tie in with Lamborghini in the 80’s.
I wonder if the 308 will ever increase to crazy numbers like the Dino did? I recall when Dinos weren’t that expensive, and now people are getting like $400K for one, thats nuts.
I am almost tempted to get a clean 308 at a low price and see if they do the same, though I think the Ferrari’s nose bleed potential might be a deal breaker, as they say, you should never meet your heroes.
Tread carefully. You can pick up a really nice 308 for the price of a Camry. And then when it hits the 30k (or 60K) mark, you spend the price of a nice used Camry on the scheduled routine service. Engine out timing belt every 30k.
The maintenance on the Ferrari will cost less than the depreciation of a modern car, at least that is how the owner I met justified his.
I love the Charger. While the ’70 was my favorite year for the Charger, I could be VERY happy with that one. It is not a muscle car anymore, but beautiful anyway. It has that gorgeous ’70s AMERICAN style. I see it more as a sporty personal luxury coupe, like the mid ’70s Camaro LT. For those that don’t like it, Just look what we have for a Charger now. FOUR DOORS. YUK. Just what is it with this four door garbage? It’s all you can get any more. I am looking for a new American car in the $20,000 price range, and there is absolutely nothing. Looks like the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro are it, and all priced out of my budget.
As for the Ferrari, I like it, But it is not my dream car. The ’74-’77 Corvette is my dream car. If I had to have a back seat, then any of the late ’60s/early ’70s American muscle cars would be just great.
I don’t like that the modern Charger is a 4-door either, and for the longest time had no retro styling cues at all. On the bright side however, if they’d made the Charger a 2-door, they wouldn’t have also made the new Challenger.
I remember how great the LH based 1999 concept looked, the production ones are a real letdown.
If you’re thinking of the one with Coke-bottle styling, which looked like a 2-door but actually had clamshell-style rear doors, I really like that one too.
So which would look better – a 2 door modern Charger or the Challenger? I know which I’d prefer, but then I’m a foreigner so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter.
I hated the 06-10 Chargers, those just seemed demographically like the sedan alternative to an Escalade. I’m pretty fond of the 11-current ones though, lots of throwback toughes like the taillights and the 68 style side sculpting and roofline treatment. Plus proportionally it emphasizes it’s length which is so rare in today’s carscape. I fear if it was made in a coupe they’d shorten it up and give it that ubiquitous closed coupled appearance as I saw in some of the online renderings I saw for it.
308 is my favorite Ferrari. I don’t care how fast it is, don’t care how refined it is, don’t care what it runs around the Nürburgring, it is what it is and it’s what a Ferrari should be. All those prissy, tech laden, paddle shifting, blobby pos’s to follow are merely overcompensating for the fact that they still aren’t as cool as these old slow 308s were.
The Charger I like too and honestly I hate that it gets such a bad rap compared to the love fest that goes on for the previous gen GTO imitators(don’t get me wrong, I like them better too). The 71 had the misfortune of debuting in… 71, the last year for the big engines and the R/T. This bodystyle was really a full blown over the top muscle car design, and it only had one year to take advantage of it, which was right at the rapid decline years. 72 came the lame Rallye package to replace the R/T(which I assume was an attempt to take it off insurance radar?) and deletion of hidden headlights, 73 came the redesigned generic roofline(which seems to be directly lifted off the 71-72 Satellite) and these pseudo mandated floating flush bumpers. I wish this bodystyle came about in 1970, for one thing since the loop bumper grafted to the 68 body looked dumb, and it would have given this two good years of being in it’s prime form, which the E-bodies got and are much more desirable now. The third gen Charger could have been much more prolific today than it is.
The SE I kind of like though since that vinyl top rear side window treatment makes it probably the sportiest brougham ever created. And really when you look at some of the luxury touches the Charger ALWAYS had since 1966 it’s still a fairly fitting and true to the name execution in my opinion, it’s just too bad the motors were such weak sauce at this point.
Side note here, but if you don’t know, Tom Magliozzi of Car Talk fame passed away at the age of 77 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. I have missed that show terribly since they stopped making new ones a couple years back. You knew something had to be very wrong to take the show off the air, and sadly today we learned this to be true.
A moment of silence for the two funniest car guys, indeed the two funniest and genuine radio guys period in recent memory.
Thats not an ignition switch on the centre console of the Ferrari its a battery isolation switch often required for racing along with the fire extinguisher it points to that car been used for some serious track work in its past.
Isn’t it funny (in a sorta sick way) that cars of my youth, cars that I “grew up with” (I am 59), cars that I just walked past in various retail stores parking lots, cars that I took for granted as “just being there”, are becoming SO desirable and wonderful and appealing 40 years later!
But a brand new 30/40 thousand dollar car just “doesn’t do it” much at all for me.
I’m 57 it happens to me a lot.
Love that SE trim on the Charger, it really makes the car. Love the condition and color too. I can tell just by looking that the owner is a great guy!
The Ferrari looks like a daily driver. I wonder how many miles are on it. The 308 and 328 models are supposed to be the easiest to maintain of all Ferraris and i think they are just about the best looking.
I wonder how the car got all that rust. I’m guessing it wasn’t in Florida the whole time but maybe it was. I used to think FL was same as CA (sunny, no salt, therefore no rust) but cars from there seem to rust more than cars from here. The humidity maybe? You never hear ‘one owner Florida car” at least I don’t.
There is a LOT of humidity and ocean on 3 sides of course.