The Rebirth of a 1966 Dodge Charger

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By: Brian Schraufnagel 

Photography By: 


Katsma Photography – Juneau, WI

We are a husband/wife photography team located in Juneau, WI. We specialize in sharp, modern, and artistic photos, with a photojournalistic approach. Read More

Five years ago I set out to find a unique car to restore.  The search was easily slimmed down to only a Mopar.  You see, I come from a family of Mopars and I share my father’s passion.  My father Jerry, currently has a 1968 Charger and both a 1970 and a 1972 Challenger.

While combing the internet, I came across a 1966 Dodge Charger!  This was the first year the Charger was produced.  With it only being a 2-hour drive, after I contacted my wife Jessica for the “OK,” I called my dad and we started the journey.

The Charger was white with a green stripe across both sides of the car.  Not the most appealing, but it was the fact that this was the first year of the Charger and it had great potential.  After an initial “Is this worth it?” inspection, the deal was done, and already on the way home, the search for parts began!

Initially, the car was just going to remain its existing color and only minor things would be fixed.  New shocks, wheels and tires started the makeover.  After driving the car a few times, I just knew a total restoration had to be done!

The disassembly began in my parent’s spacious barn.  All of the parts, big and small, were stacked, racked, bagged and labeled to limit headaches later on.  The body of the car was now ready for surgery.  My wonderful wife Jessica and myself used Aircraft Stripper and removed every inch of the paint on the car by means of brushes and putty knives.  The 28 hours to achieve the task was well worth it! 

After the removal of the paint, primer and body filler, it was very apparent that there was rust.  My dad had a huge hand in the sheet metal repairs done on the floor, lower door skins and quarter panels.  There were many many hours of measuring, cutting, bending, grinding, cutting again, more grinding, and then finally welding in the new sheet metal pieces.

A very critical step, before painting the car, is the art of applying body filler.  This process takes the most time as you apply filler, then sand; apply filler, then sand; and repeat until perfect!  With the help of my dad and Steve’s Auto Body of Brownsville, the Charger was ready for a “new set of clothes” a.k.a. paint!

The part search continued after the car was painted.  The 1966 Charger’s body style only existed until 1967 so parts were very hard to find.  The search was both challenging and rewarding.  After visiting swap meet after swap meet and conducting many online searches most of the components found their place on the car.

The heart of the car is a 383 cubic inch engine, bored .030 over, with a mild build.  A high flow fuel pump feeds a 650 Edelbrock carburetor, along with an MSD Billet Distributer for ignition and hooker headers to channel the exhaust out the pipes!  Finally, a 727 Torqueflite transmission, along with 3.23 gears, sends the car screaming down the road.

In early 2014 the interior was just complete.  I have been telling my wife for over a year that the Charger is almost done!  Her reply is “Brian, it will never be done!”  You know, she is definitely correct – what’s the fun if there is nothing left to search for?  Well, I guess I could always get another project!  HA! 

To date, the Charger has received 14 awards from local car shows.  The recognition of work well done is very gratifying.  I would like to thank my entire family for making this project possible! 

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