While roaming around a local car show in Largo, Florida, we happened by this oddly colored orange-ish, 1970 Dodge Charger R/T. We knew for sure the car was a 1970 model because of the distinctive, wrap around front bumper and the solid, non-divided grille.
At first glance we saw nothing really extraordinary about this particular car, it did sport the optional, longitudinal striping, and the scallops on the hood were painted a satin black. “Just another old Mopar,” we thought as we walked by, but after tracking down the owner, and spending a few minutes with him and his oddly colored Charger R/T, we found our first impression was anything but correct.
Paul Bischofs from Palm Harbor, Florida, is one of the most personable people you will ever have the opportunity to meet. A retired Air Force veteran of 24 plus years, Paul is more than willing to sit down and talk about his oddly colored Dodge Charger.
Although he doesn’t readily admit to it, he is a lifelong gear head, and recalls his younger days growing up around Saint Petersburg, Florida, and Washington D.C. “I guess you could say I was brought up almost everywhere,” he laughs. “My Dad was in the Air Force so we moved around a lot.”
Regardless of where Paul and his family were located, he remembers his Dad as always having a cool car of some sort. “Dad had everything from an old Plymouth station wagon, to a Lamborghini, and I was constantly around cars,” he said.
Unknowingly at the time, with his Dad exposing him to a variety of automobiles at a young age, planted a seed deep inside his character that is undoubtedly the primary reason that he is in love with the mechanical wonder known as the automobile. Nearing his 18th birthday, Paul’s dad bought him a 1973 Plymouth Duster as his first car. “I think my real addiction to the automobile came when Dad bought me that Duster,” he said with a smile.
Paul’s Duster was by no means what might be considered the typical American musclecar of that era. The car was a standard Duster with a 225 cid slant six motor and automatic transmission.
“My high school buddies were always after me to do things to the engine, ‘you got to soup it up, you got to make it faster’, and I guess I might have considered that, but I’m not very – shall we say – mechanically inclined,” he said. His Duster did only one thing for his addiction to the automobile, particularly Mopar products, and that was to strengthen his need for speed.
Shortly thereafter, Paul followed in his father’s footsteps and embarked on a 24-½ year career in the Air Force. As expected, he has been around the world during his tenure with the United States Air Force, but like his dad did before him, he always had a car no matter where he ended up.
“I think it all goes back to my high school days and that old Duster,” he said. When all the other high school boys were out searching for girls, Paul and his posse were at the drag strip every Friday night. They would scour used car lots looking under the hoods of countless cars just to see what motor was there.
“I’ve owned a number of different cars over the years, but I’ve always wanted a real American musclecar, and not just any musclecar, something with the Pentastar on the fender, a classic piece of Mopar history,” he said. Paul was quite aware a real American piece of Mopar history would not come cheap.
When he entered the Air Force he started saving his money to ensure that some day he would find his piece of Mopar history, and actually have the ability to purchase it. “I wanted something that was pretty much ready to go, something that didn’t require the same expenditure as buying a used aircraft carrier to put it on the road,” he said. “After all my research and checking around, it was apparent to me that in order to find that turn-key car I was looking for, I had to get it at auction.”
Late in 2014, Paul was searching through the inventory for an upcoming Mecum Auto Auction scheduled for January 2015, in Kissimmee, Florida. “There were three cars that caught my attention, and according to the estimates provided by Mecum, any one of the three cars could fit into the budget I had available,” he recalled. Finally, after nearly 25 years of research, planning, and saving to purchase his dream car, he was ready to – as he put it – “pull the trigger.” Arriving in Kissimmee, Paul officially registered as a buyer and settled in as the auction got underway.
Waiting on the Charger to come across the block, he had made up his mind that if he came away empty handed, there would be other auctions to attend. As the oddly colored Charger rolled across the block, there were several people, including Paul, that were actively bidding on the car.
As the auctioneer recognized the bidders, he found he was still alive, and might possibly have a chance to win. Several more bids were offered and when the gavel fell, Paul was declared the new owner of lot number S91.1 – a 1970 440 Dodge Charger R/T. He was pleased with his newly acquired Charger, but was not totally aware of what he actually had purchased until returning home the next day.
After the car was safely tucked away in his garage, Paul started reviewing the documentation that was included with his purchase. Already very happy with his own personal piece of Mopar history, after reviewing the documents he realized he had made an exceptional buy. This particular 1970 440 Dodge Charger R/T was not just original; it proved to be very unique, due to how it was equipped.
The car was originally ordered as an executive demonstrator by Colony Dodge in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The car was sold new in 1970 to the first owner, and was later traded in at Colony Dodge in 1973. The second owner purchased the car late in 1973 and retained ownership of the vehicle until selling the car at the January Mecum auction, where Paul had purchased the car.
During the 42 years the second owner had the car, it spent most of the time garaged and covered. For reasons unknown, the car was rarely taken out of the garage; the recorded mileage at the time of purchase late in 1973 was roughly 38,000 miles. Today, the car shows a little over 63,000 miles on the odometer. The math is simple: in 42 years the second owner put 24,000 miles on the car.
Dodge Charger: Legendary styling and performance
The second generation Charger arrived with all new styling and performance options. Engineers were given the task of producing a car that looked as comfortable on the high banks of Daytona, as well as on Main Street, USA. The new horizontal “Coke Bottle” silhouette with the swept back tunneled roof line, sculpted scallops on the hood and doors created more dramatic surfaces than other performance based vehicles of the era. The styling changes along with the added performance options accounted for a 343% sales increase over first generation Dodge Chargers.
His Charger came with the special edition (SE) interior and exterior trim package that included, among other things, a deep dish wood grained steering wheel, hood mounted turn signal indicators, high back front bucket seats and wood grained instrument panel.
Other factory options found on Paul’s Charger include: Airtemp air conditioning, automatic speed control, headlight time delay, luggage rack, remote-control drivers side outside mirror, passenger side outside mirror, power steering, power brakes, power windows, AM radio with 8-track tape player, 6-way manual, high back bucket driver’s seat, three-speed electric windshield wipers, tinted windows (including the windshield), undercoating and hood insulation, bright chrome-tip exhausts, front bumper guards, hood tie down pins with performance painted hood scallops, chrome road wheels, vinyl roof, raised white letter tires, tachometer and electric clock, firm ride shock absorbers, and seat belt group. Although a large number of these options have become very commonplace in the industry today, back in the 70’s, this car would have been considered as “fully loaded”.
The high impact “Go Mango” orange exterior paint with the burnt orange interior was also a very unique and rare combination. Although the exact numbers have not been verified, preliminary research indicates that less than 200 Chargers with this particular color combination were produced during the 1970 model year.
The white vinyl top is original to the car, as well as 90% of the exterior paint. The longitudinal stripes, R/T badging, wheel well and chrome rocker panel moldings, are also original to the car.
Finally, the entire drive train is exactly the same as the day the car rolled off the showroom floor in Winston-Salem. The 440 cid Magnum motor is completely original equipment from the manufacturer, as well as the standard Dodge Torque Flite, 727 three-speed automatic transmission. The sure grip differential with a 3.23:1 drive gear is numbers matching to this particular car.
All in all, Paul’s Charger is completely original and 100% unrestored, with the exception of the brake pads, a few belts and hoses, the ever-ominous ballast resistor, and one tail light bulb. He has no plans to take the car down to the frame and start over, “I really want to preserve this car, after reviewing the history of this automobile I think it would be a real injustice to start tearing it apart,” he said.
The car does have a few flaws, but considering the age of this vehicle, you most likely will not find another 1970 Charger that will compare. “I intend to have a few items on the car repaired,” he added, “the passenger side window motor is on its last legs, and I am currently searching for an NOS motor to replace it with.”
As we said at the start of this article, our first impression of this vehicle was anything but correct. This beautifully preserved 1970 440 Charger R/T is definitely not, just another old Mopar; it is absolutely the real deal.