1970 Dodge Charger 440-Purple!

My neighbor drives her hot purple 1970 Dodge Charger down the street of my QUIET country setting neighborhood and all the glass in my house shakes. This car is awesome, and Caren has done a super job at restoring it and maintaining it.

I asked her to tell us a little about her car, how she got it, what it has under the hood and show off a few of her pictures…this is what she wrote.

Hi Austin,

You asked about my Dodge Charger. I have several pictures of my Charger included with this letter. Some are better pictures then others. Pictures don’t do the car justice. It is a great car. This is a true muscle car. It is a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T 440 Six-pack. The color is “Plum Crazy”, purple, with white bucket seats. It has a Hurst 4-speed pistol grip shifter and a Hemi transmission. The rear is a Dayna 60 with 456 gearing. They only produced 117 of these cars.

caren

It is basically a stock vehicle as it came from the factory. I bought the car in 1972 from the original owner for $1,600. He would have sold it for less, maybe $1,400 but I was short on money and asked him to hold it for me. I gave him some money, probably a couple of hundred dollars. He held the car for me about 6 months while I made payments. I have had the car ever since. Her name is Purple Lushes. It no longer has the original exterior paint. I also upgraded some of the engine.

Everyone that owned a muscle car in the 1970’s would upgrade to better parts. Things like a stock duel point distributor had to have the point’s fine tuned about every 30 miles of city type driving. I replaced it with an electronic ignition system. I put Crager Mags on the front and rear. The rear tires are a foot wide of rubber on the ground. I recently put new tires and bought the same brand tires I had in college. The tires are Mickey Thompson’s.

caren

The day I saw the car with the for sale sign on it, I was enamored. The car just glowed with a beautiful purple shine in the sun and the lines were so fine too! When I finally picked up the car, in San Antonio, Texas, I could barely shift the gears without spinning the tires. I had driven muscle cars before but that is another story. The cars 456 gears made it difficult to not spin the tires.

The car wanted to fly. I drove the car very gently, however, the same day I bought the car, and it slipped bearings and broke down. I was mad. I kept the car but it was obvious while he had kept the car, he had raced it pretty hard. Anyway, I nice brother of this nice guy friend at the time, who showed me the car in San Antonio, rebuilt the engine and I paid for the parts.

It was a deal, plus he drove it to me in Lubbock and took great care of the car. It ran faithfully for 10,000 or 15,000 miles. The car broke down a lot. It currently only has 50,000 miles on it. The mileage is that low because it does tend to break down and I would let it sit for month’s even years. I had other easy cars to drive so the Charger became my second car.

After 34 years, I decided to paint the engine different then stock. Lots of purest may not agree but it is mostly paint and I have original parts with matching numbers and it is my car! Since the engine has been rebuilt three times, none of the original paint is still there, anyway…

Yes, I painted the engine block pink! Girls and women like it, but plenty of men like these color choices too

caren

As easy as that may sound, not just any pink seemed to work. I tried about 8 different pinks but I never was happy. Some looked like bubble gum and I was beginning to think I had really messed up. The engine had different pinks on it and I had kept it so nice for a long time.

Finally, I realized what the perfect pink was and went to a toy store, bought a Barbie Doll and took the pink box to the auto paint store. They color matched it to the Barbie Pink that is so popular and very well known. I think the final look of the engine really catches your eye.

From there, I spent time moving the wires off the block where they would run right next to the intake manifold and under the air filter. I placed all the wires in flexible tubing. The tubing is pink and purple. The spark plug wires are blue. The spark plug wires are high performance so you have to accept the fact that men dictate a lot of what colors muscle car parts come in.

Besides, the wires are expensive and some day I will see some great wires and have to have them but for now, the blue looks really good too. I wrapped the hoses in stainless steel mesh and had the air cleaner painted by a guy that painted motorcycles. I sketched up a design and described how I wanted it to conceptual look. He did a very good job. I think it is the topping on the cake, except maybe for the subtle addition of a bracelet on the windshield wiper motor.

I even decided to customize the gauges on the dash board. I have a better set of gauges mounted under the dash that provide a better reading of the engines basic performance. I took pictures of the stock gauges and then using a paint software program and spent hours playing with different designs that would work for gauges that are whimsical. I thought it would be fun to use icons for measuring devices. These next few pictures are the new gauge faces.

caren

The first picture shows the alternator reading. You see a thumb down if the battery is discharging and thumbs up if it is being charged by the alternator. A smiley face means everything is fine.

caren

If you run out of gas, you ride a bike, full tank = perfect harmony! Of course the ½ full tank is an hour glass with the sands of the Middle East running out… I bit of irony.

caren

You don’t want “zero” for oil pressure. This means your engine is dead or going to be in a few seconds!

It was fun to experiment with ideas of color and icons. Although the surrounding area looks bad, you only see the gauge when the dashboard is in place. They are barely adhered to the original gauge faces. Most people restore the original gauge faces but not me…

caren

The engine is either cold (a snow flake) or over heated (the sun). The heart is just right, 185 degrees.

caren

The final touch was the speedometer. The original face also went to 150 mph. It is nice to look down and be reminded that the car belongs to me!

I have learned and guys have taught me many things about repairing this car. Yes, I work on it because I trust myself and only one other person to work on the car. Lot’s of people are always ready to give me “advice.” Some is good; some is just hmmmmmm…..

This is a picture of me pulling a push rod one afternoon. I have bent a few. This one was a new brand. They were supposed to be better. I have learned that the only parts that don’t fly apart or the stock parts. They may weigh a lot but they are the only parts that do not rip in half, bend or fly off the car!

caren

The engine came from the factory with 390 horsepower. The Hemi was 425 horsepower and the basic 440 magnum was rated 375 horsepower… That is … what they told us. Everyone knows they came with more horsepower. With a few parts, you can boost this by 30% and add a high performance cam, bore it out and you have 500 plus horsepower.

I could go on and on with stories and more neat things about this car. I don’t want to boar you with so many stories… Well one more!!! I waxed the car one summer night while in Lubbock going to Texas Tech University. It looked great! So I decided to go for a ride. I could not resist and floored the car out of a green light and ran it through the gears. After all, it only takes 12.65 seconds to run the quarter mile, so it builds up top speed before you know it.

Anyway, a police officer saw me take off. I remember seeing him way in the distance of my rear view mirror. Yes, I pulled over and stopped. He asked me to get out of my car and sit in the front seat of his car. I did not have a current driver’s license. He said, “I clocked you doing 110 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone and why did you stop, I never would have caught you?” I smiled and said, “I’m sorry.” After lecturing me for a few minutes, he let me go with a warning… Whew!!!!

caren

I need better pictures! This is a picture a friend took at a Saturday Night Street Rally Show. Lot’s of people have been restoring their cars and several hundred of us gather every Saturday night at the corner of Spring Cypress and Champions. It is a few minutes to the east of HWY 249 off the Spring Cypress exit in Cypress TX just a little North of Houston.

Caren Burns

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."
  • Austin Davis

    Caren, so good to hear from you. That is AWESOME horsepower. You are the hot-roddest chick I know. :) Love to have you out for dinner, give us a call.

  • Caren Burns

    I had the car Dyno tested and at the rear tires I am getting 430 HSP!