In small town Humboldt, Iowa sat Anderson’s Motors on Highway 169 North; the area’s local Dodge dealership. On July 25th, 1969, a young Jim McCullough walked into the dealership and purchased a brand new 1969 Dodge Charger.
“I was still in the military and my wife Pat and I had seen several Chargers in the local area and were struck by its great lines, style and variety of options and colors. At the time, we were driving a 1964 Plymouth Fury which was a nice car but we needed something newer to handle our growing family. For safety reasons, we wanted to stay with a two-door keeping our boys in the rear seat without access to another set of doors. There was a small dealership in town that just so happened to have a brand new 1969 Charger in the showroom,” he explains.
He continues to say, “Without telling my wife, I traded in our Fury and drove the Charger home and surprised her. As I look back on it, knowing what I know now, I would certainly have selected a Charger with more options, maybe even an R/T. The 426 Hemi option, as I recall was only another $600 or so. At that time it was a lot of money but it’s an extreme bargain now! That being said, everyone has 20/20 hindsight. I was quite happy with the 383 equipped in our car as it had plenty of power for a family car and our options of air conditioning and power steering made driving a pleasure.”
The McCullough’s new Charger came from the factory painted F3 Light Green with green interior and a green vinyl top. It’s a good thing Jim liked green as this Charger was definitely that! The Charger was powered by a 383-2bbl engine backed by a column shifted 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission and an 8 ¾ rear end.
For options, it came equipped with the A01 Charger Light Group, C21 center front armrest, H51 air conditioning, J55 undercoating with under hood pad, L31 hood mounted turn signals, R11 Music Master radio, S81 Woodgrain Sport wheel and the W15 14” deep dish wheel covers. The most prominent option was the A41 Charger Spring Special Package; also known as the “White Hat Special”. With the options equipped, the Charger would roll off the dealership lot at a total price of $4,251.05.
Over the next number of the years, the McCullough family would use the Charger as their daily driver until August 1985 when they decided to trade it in for something newer. Jim shares, “During our new car shopping, we realized no one would really give us much for trade-in value for the Charger and selling it privately really wouldn’t bring much for funds either at that point in time.”
Rather than let it go for pennies on trade, Jim decided to keep the Charger and placed it in covered storage. From 1985 until 1997, he would start the car three or four times a year otherwise it sat. In 1997, he decided to pull the Charger out of storage to do some work to it which would eventually lead into a restoration.
During the restoration, some sheet metal replacement was done to replace some of the weathered and rusted spots from its time as a daily driver. Jim tells us that he made sure that body filler use was very minimal. Once the body work was done, the Charger was sanded, primed and repainted a fresh coat of F3 Light Green. The vinyl top, chrome bright work trim and glass are all original as it came from the factory in 1969.
On the inside, the vinyl seat covers along with the carpet were replaced. Determined to use as many OEM parts as possible, Jim sourced out original good condition upper door panels from Texas and Canada. The headliner, dash and steering wheel are all original as are the gauges and factory clock. Jim shares, “A lot of the car is original as possible. Even the original vacuum operated headlights and hood turn signals are original and work perfectly.”
Under the hood, the original numbers matching engine, transmission and rear end are all original and have never been touched. However, Jim tells us that he plans on pulling the engine out next winter to get it freshened up as its starting to show its age.
He tells us, “There are a few components that aren’t original. I replaced the original Music Master thumb wheel radio with an aftermarket AM/FM stereo which was a bit of a mistake. I also installed stainless steel exhaust and installed Magnum 500 style wheels. I did keep the original wheels and wheel covers though. I also added power disc brakes to ensure better and safer braking over the original system.”
“Bottom line, despite some people’s thoughts, the car can’t really be labeled as a survivor due to the work I’ve done. However, it’s a mostly original one owner car that I have had since new which is such a great thing to say. It’s a truly reliable and fun car to drive and I’ll never get rid of it.”