Story continues below this advertisement
The 340 engine was Chrysler’s true performance small-block, and by 1972, it was in its twilight. Things had changed in the musclecar market by that election year, with most of the big engine options gone. Compression ratios on what remained (the 340, new 360, 400 and 440) had fallen, plus the heavy-duty driveline hardware was coming to a close. Uncle Sam had mandated big bumpers, and paint and graphics were now considered out of style.
For Chuck Hughes, then in college, there was still hope. That July, he went into the local Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge dealer, Brohawn’s, and put together the Charger of his dreams. The R/T was history, but you could get a Rallye version; since that 440 required a car insurance premium, Chuck chose the 400 four-barrel backed by a Torqueflite and 3.54 rear. He enjoyed the car; in fact, he drove it 180,000 miles, finally trading it in the 1980s when the rust problems inherent to cars in the Northeast surfaced – literally. He traded it in, but by the mid-1990s, he began chasing a replacement for the now-gone thoroughbred.
Chuck had wanted another big-block Rallye; however, low production had made them harder to find than some of the earlier Chargers. Not having much luck, he stuck to his guns and finally, in March of 2001, a 1973 Charger Rallye did surface. Located in Michigan, it had originally been sold in Georgia, and showed 70,000 miles on the odometer. Though a B-engine was not in the bay, it hosted the next best ting – a final-year 340, and was nearly identical to the Charger that Chuck had purchased almost 30 years prior – Rallye package, GB5 Blue paint, - with the only visible difference being a different interior color and the optional side mirrors. After seeing rust buckets over the years, the other point was that it was a solid driver.
A driver is nice, but Chuck was really wanting to go back to the past and chose to do a full restoration on the car. At this point, these cars didn’t have the appeal of their 1971 and earlier kin, and he admits that he was somewhat frustrated with the way some of the hobby’s suppliers treated him when he explained what he was doing. Most were not interested in supplying parts for cars of this era. Parts dealer Tony D’Agostino, who happens to be down in southern Delaware, not too far from where Chuck lives near Maryland’s eastern shore, was to become a huge help in this project.