Gallery: Bill Nagribianko’s Canadian Export ’71 Hemi Charger R/T

In 1971, the swansong was playing in the background for the stout 426 Hemi Charger R/T, but a few lucky individuals were able to snap up the scarce last-year pachyderms. Even rarer were the few Hemi Chargers exported North of the Border. A total of twelve Hemi Chargers were destined for Canada, and of those twelve, six sequential vehicle identification number (VIN) Chargers were sold by Gardner Motors of Medicine Hat, Alberta.

None of the Gardner Motors’ Chargers were pre-ordered by a customer. Instead, the performance-oriented dealership ordered them to sell to street and strip enthusiasts throughout western Canada. As the years passed, the legend and desirability of the six grew. Contrary to the hype about the Chargers, they have earned a simple moniker, “the 6.”

Bill Nagribianko of Toronto, Ontario, is the proud owner of the second (sequential VIN) of the six. In 2011, Bill saw a for sale sign on the Charger in the Mopar Nationals. After that, he confessed, “the Hemi lured me, its originality, low mileage, and condition kept me looking at it, and then finally the Canadian factor, and the double F7 dark green pretty much sealed the deal.” But unfortunately, Bill did not pull the trigger at that time, and he regretted it.

Fast forward to January 2016, at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida, Bill had a second chance to purchase the Charger. “There was no way I was walking away from it this time,” declared Bill. He knew that he would not find another due to the Charger’s rarity and its list of options. Bill stated, “I just had to have it!” As he watched the Charger progress across the block, the bidding was furious. However, despite his efforts, the Charger’s reserve was not met, and it was a “No Sale.”

At the Mecum auctions, deals can be made at the “Bid Goes On” section, where bidders can place offers on non-sold vehicles. Bill was able to strike a deal, and after he completed the paperwork, he had the 36K-mile Charger shipped back to Canada in February of 2016.

The history of the Charger starts in Saskatchewan. Initially, Bill’s Charger was sold to a gentleman from Flaxcombe. In 1979, and quickly followed in 1980, the Charger exchanged hands, but it remained in Saskatchewan in both cases. Finally, in 1998, the Charger was sold to the first of at least six owners south of the Canadian border. Bill has been able to verify the information provided with the purchase of the Charger, and he followed leads supplied to him by collectors and previous owners.

During the 2017 Chrysler Nationals, a man from Oklahoma named Scott looked intently at the Charger. Scott approached Bill to inform him that he had once owned the Charger. The two discussed the Charger’s history, and Scott told Bill he would provide all the documentation he had collected about the Charger.

After reviewing the documentation, Bill got the original purchaser’s name, Andy. Sadly, the lead quickly evaporated as Bill discovered Andy had passed away. However, Bill tracked down Andy’s son, who still lived in Flaxcombe. Bill and Andy’s son were able to speak on the phone. That discussion led to additional documentation, including the original bill of sale and the names of subsequent owners.

Since Bill’s ownership of the Charger, it has worn 15×7-inch Rallye wheels instead of the factory 14×6-inch steel wheels and hub caps. After finding the name of the second owner, Owen, it was revealed that when the Charger was purchased in 1979, it came wearing the Rallye wheels, and the trunk contained four green wheels and hub caps.

Due to the build date of the Charger (September 1970), the steel wheels would have been body color. Not until May 1, 1971, did Chrysler decree that all steel wheels must be painted black rather than body color. Owen then confided to Bill that the wheels were still in the garage. Although Bill has retrieved the wheels, he prefers the 15-inch Rallye wheels.

Some of the highlights of Bill’s Charger include a Torqueflite transmission with a console floor shifter, a 3.23:1 geared 8 ¾” rear end, 11-inch power drums, power steering, a stripe delete, a Ramcharger hood scoop, a desirable rear window defogger, and a super rare block heater.

Although 20 years old, the Charger’s F7 repaint was still magnificent, so Bill did nothing more than thoroughly cleaning and polishing it. At the time of the repaint, the factory deleted body stripe was added. To restore the Charger to its former glory, Bill employed new-old-stock (NOS) parts to replace the faded original carpet, the torn trunk mat, and worn hinges on the driver’s door and hood.

Additional work included replacing the damaged transmission cooler and installing a reproduction factory exhaust system to replace the cobbled tubes on the Charger. Bill replaced several engine gaskets and seals, and he exchanged all the fluids. Dick Katter of Eaglehead Restoration professionally serviced the rare original Carter AFB carburetors.

The restoring or replacing components could have continued indefinitely, and Bill considered continuing the process. Still, after some thoughtful reflection, Bill decided the main reason he purchased the Charger was for its uniqueness. “My main concern was to maintain its originality. I wanted to bring it home and leave it alone,” he affirmed. Since squaring away the minor concerns, he has done just that.

Bill intends to persist in his search of the Charger’s past. In the meantime, he plans to continue to show the Charger at the more significant Chrysler events in Canada and the United States and enjoy the Charger at the local car shows in Toronto. A friend of Bill’s once told him, “Every car guy should own a Hemi car in their lifetime, and then they will get to enjoy the Hemi experience.” So that is what Bill is doing; he enjoys the Hemi experience with his ultra-rare Canadian export Hemi Charger.

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Chris Holley

Technical Contributor Chris has been a college professor for 25 years; at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. for the last 20 years. Chris instructs automotive classes in HVAC, electrical/electronics, and high-performance, including using a chassis dyno, flow benches, and various machining equipment. Recently, he added a vintage vehicle upholstery class to his teaching assignments. Chris owns a '67 Dart, a '75 Dart, a '06 Charger, and a '12 Cummins turbo diesel Ram, and he is a multi-time track champion (drag racing) with his '69 340 Dart, which he has owned for 34 years.

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