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Jack McFarland, Mopar’s bon vivant west coast public relations man and I were at a table at the Bantam Cock on La Cienega, discussing the cars he’d be ordering for the next press fleet over martinis. (This was 1969. Chardonnay hadn’t been insinuated on the drinking public.) I watched an excited Adam’s apple jerk his perfectly knotted silk tie up and down. He talked about a Charger R/T 440 Six-Pack and queried me as to the transmission I thought it should have. I told him straightaway.

I don’t want to start harping about stick shifts again, but the reason for the Charger’s big fun quotient was directly related to the A-833 4-speed. It was balky, recalcitrant, and it left its mark. The day after a bang-fest, the stiffness in your bicep and shoulder kept reminding you. The way that transmission took abuse like an ugly stick stuck in my head, too.

None of us knew how to manage a road course very well and what would the point have been with a 4,000-pound sled being driven by squirrels? All the new car evaluations huddled around drag strip performance. Running it in Pure Stock trim meant that the changes could be duplicated by anyone. Aftermarket headers were verboten, but the stock exhaust system, whatever tires came on the car, minor systems tweaks, loosened or removed accessory drive belts, maybe no air cleaner top or element, optimum tire inflation, a half-full fuel tank, and a naked trunk were copasetic.

Nowadays, press cars are assigned for a week at a time because the demand is overwhelming. In the day of the Visigoth, things were very laid back in Los Angeles. We kept a tight grip on the Charger for several months. Then, as always, Car Craft represented a young market. I wrote about Dodge in general: “Sales curves revealing public acceptance were equally apathetic, so to forestall extinction, corporate policies were changed to seek a new image. One of this month’s drag test cars, a ’70 Charger, is part of that new image…Looks, performance and a youth market are the current keys to the top of today’s automotive sales charts…” Was it fact or my wishful thinking?

As if the Sub-Lime paint (Go Mango, Plum Crazy, Hemi Orange, and Banana Yellow, too) wasn’t enough to scale your brain pan, the Charger had been updated with “…a new nose and grille as the primary change. Sometimes…styling changes are made for the sake of change, whether they add to the existing lines or not. In the case of the Charger, simulated air scoops, looking more like gills from a beached flounder, have been tacked to the forward portion of the doors.”

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