Finders Keepers: Forrest Mackay’s 1969 Dodge Charger R/T SE

Forrest Mackay from Penticton, British Columbia is a die-hard Mopar guy. He’s one of the true definitions of a “young gun.” His father is to thank (or blame depending on which way you see it) for his passion for muscle cars, Mopars especially. When he was just 16-years-old, he spent his childhood savings purchasing a 1969 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 4-speed that he restored over the next few years. You might remember his beautiful Dart as we did a feature on it back in January 2016.

About a month after he had completed the restoration on his Dart, the previous owner Ken came over to check it out. Having a craving to start another project already, Forrest decided to ask him what he had for project cars kicking around knowing that he had a bunch of other Mopars hanging about. “He told me what he had, but I knew he was holding back on me. We made plans so I could come back up to his place and fully see what he had,” says Forrest. When Forrest went up to take a look, he says, “I looked at all of his project cars but nothing really caught my eye. I really wanted a factory 440 car of some type but by no means could I afford one.”

Above and below: The Charger as Forrest found it. There wasn’t much left but he saw the potential in it.

Feeling disappointed, Forrest accepted defeat. Just as he was leaving the yard, something in the far back corner caught his eye. Off in the corner sat a pale yellow gutted shell wearing a black R/T stripe. Knowing he had to investigate, Forrest went over and discovered what appeared to be the remains of a ’69 Charger R/T. “It was the most haggard, beat up, parted-out shell I had ever seen, but I knew I had to have it,” recalls Forrest. He decided to investigate more and asked Ken if it was a real R/T car. “At first, he was confused and asked me ‘what R/T?’ Then he remembered and confirmed that not only was it a real R/T but an R/T SE to boot!”

One of 4,243 R/T SEs built in 1969, this one was originally Y2 Sunfire Yellow with a 440-4bbl column shift automatic and tan interior. It turns out that Ken had rescued the Charger from a junkyard back in the early 1990’s and stuffed it away in the very spot Forrest found it in and had forgotten about it. It took Forrest asking about it for him to remember that he still had it. The Charger was involved in a head-on collision in the area of Salmo, British Columbia around 1970-1971 as that was the last time it was insured.

Above: These were taken in the early 1990’s when Ken dragged it home from a junkyard.

Above left: After digging it out and making it more roll able, it was ready to transport home! Above right: This was taken the day the Charger arrived at Forrest’s. You couldn’t wipe the smile off his face! Check out the cool tow rig!

The driver ended up having his head go through the windshield. According to Ken, when he bought it from the junkyard, it still had the hole in the windshield from the accident. He was told the driver survived but has a huge scar on his face from the accident to this day. From what Forrest can tell, it was actually the driver’s wife’s car as it was registered under her name and she had purchased it used from a Datsun dealership in Cranbrook, BC.

After the car was written off, it was sent to a junkyard in Cranbrook where it sat until the early 1990’s when Ken bought it and dragged it home. Forrest says, “I’m surprised that it sat there for that long. It had been hacked up and parted out so I’m amazed that they kept it around for whatever reason.” After taking another look at the car, they decided it really wasn’t as bad as it looked and was indeed fixable. So, a deal was made on the Charger. As a part of the deal, Ken agreed to take the car and get it put on a frame machine to pull the rocker, door jamb and roof back 100-percent straight before bringing it down to Forrest’s house.

Above left: A welder by trade, Forrest took no time chopping out the crunched and mangled front end. Above center: Having an entire front clip off a 1969 Coronet, Forrest trimmed what was needed to prepare for the install. Above right: After Forrest got the front clip blasted and primed, it was installed. Looking better already!

Above left: The replacement front clip blasted and ready to be installed. Above center: Instead of trying to fix bent metal, it was all cut out and replaced with a one piece original set-up from a Coronet. Above right: Starting to look like a Charger already. With that brand new AMD fender, the Charger actually had a front end for the first time since the early ’70s!

“When it arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Everything was straight again and the driver’s door was actually able to be opened for the first time since the accident. I found an oil change sticker from Osoyoos, BC in the door jamb and my beliefs are that it was sold new somewhere near Penticton or Kelowna,” shares Forrest.

Being a welder by trade, Forrest quickly brought it into his shop and started tearing it apart; cutting off the old crumpled firewall, cowl, front frame rails, inner fenders and torsion bar cross member so a complete replacement front clip could be welded on in some shot, maintaining the look of factory seams and joints. Forrest says because he goes to college out of town, it’s been a slow work in progress but thanks to a good deal on a package deal of parts off another wrecked ’69, he has now gotten the majority of the parts needed for the car. After some research, Forrest says he has found the numbers matching engine sitting between the fenders of a ’68 Chrysler Newport and is in the process of buying it back.

Above: With a grille and hood installed from a parts car, Forrest’s Charger is starting to come together!

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Cody Krueger

Car Feature Editor – Since the age of 4, Cody has been obsessed with everything Mopar. On Christmas of 1998, Cody's parents gave him a rusty '69 Charger shell that his father saved from a field. Cody's garage still features that '69 Charger as well as the additions of a '71 Charger R/T, '71 Super Bee, '73 Duster, '08 Challenger SRT8 and a '13 Ram 3500. Cody can truly and proudly say that he is a true Mopar nut in love with all types of Mopars!

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