Gallery: Harland Avezzie’s ’69 Hemi Charger Runs with the Dodge Scat Pack


Dodge’s 1969 sale’s slogan was “This year, Dodge is turning up the fever.” A Mopar devotee could check all the performance option boxes to cure the fever, put some cash down, negotiate a manageable monthly payment, and leave the dealership in a bumblebee-striped Dodge. The bumblebee vehicles were five different high-performance Dodges offered in nine variations.

These included the 340 Dart Swinger hardtop, the 340 GTS hardtop and convertible, the 383 Coronet Super Bee coupe and hardtop, the 440 Coronet R/T hardtop and convertible, the 440 Charger R/T, the 440 Charger 500, and later the Daytona. Owning one of the “five from the hive” authorized the owner the right to “Run with the Dodge Scat Pack,” which absolutely cured the fever.

A decade before America welcomed an orange, Confederate-flag-attired, “01” badged, ‘69 Charger into their living rooms, the Charger made its name on the street and the strip. Dodge contract drivers raced Chargers at the drag strip running in various Super Stock and Modified Production classes, and those drivers participated in the Dodge Performance Clinic Program.

These clinics occurred in dealerships through the extensive Dodge dealership network. Drag racer Dick Landy presided over the clinics. He offered the locals engine performance tuning tips and advice on setting up a chassis and drivetrain. Dodge discovered putting the Chargers on the strip and providing the Performance Clinics proved to be a big selling point to the performance-oriented youth.

Harland Avezzie, of Westfield, Massachusetts, was one of those performance-oriented youths. He drag raced a ‘65 Hemi Coronet in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. During the ‘70s, Avezzie obtained additional Hemi cars, including Challengers, Chargers, and Super Bees.

As he continued to collect Hemi cars, he and six other Hemi car owners established the Northeast Hemi Owners Association (NeHOA). In 1976, he held the first meet in his back yard, and since that opening weekend, NeHOA has met twice a year on the three-day Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, rotating the meet to a hometown of a group member.

In 1977, Avezzie’s wife wanted a larger house for the growing family, and Avezzie heard a former racer, Rick Perro, had such a home for sale. Unfortunately, Avezzie had not seen Perro or his Hemi Charger in a few years, and it turned out the Charger had been pushed to the side of the garage with a damaged and partially disassembled Hemi.

So, Avezzie informed Perro, he would pay the total asking price for the house but only with the inclusion of the Charger with the sale. With some negotiating, Avezzie and Perro struck a deal. Avezzie purchased the home, and he paid $400 cash for the non-running 8,000-mile Hemi Charger R/T.

What did Avezzie get for $400? He obtained a Charger built on December 12, 1968, at the Hamtramck assembly plant, and it sold through Hampden Dodge of Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Charger came stock with the A34 Super Track Pack (a 4.10-geared Dana 60 Sure-Grip rear end, a New Process A833 manual 4-speed transmission, a Hurst Shifter, a 26-inch radiator, and power front disc brakes). Additional components included a wood grain paneled center console, a pair of head restraints, and the Hemi engine.

Options included a tinted windshield, a factory locking gas cap, hood insulator pad, a tachometer with clock, a 10-watt AM radio with 8-track, undercoating, and a full white-colored vinyl top. The rolling stock consisted of F70x15 fiberglass-belted (bias-ply) tires wrapped around body-colored steel wheels.

The Charger also had an interior lighting group and three-speed windshield wipers. Strangely, the Charger did not have the typical bumblebee stripe. With all the options, the Charger’s window sticker was a stout $5,015.45.

With family requirements, the repair work to the Hemi (rebuilding the original block and heads) took longer than expected. As a result, the Charger R/T did not make its debut until the 1979 Car Craft Street Machine Nationals. Avezzie drove the Charger from Massachusetts to the show in Indiana, then on to the Chrysler Car Club Convention in St. Louis.

The Charger R/T won the best Hemi car of the convention. The ‘79 Labor Day NeHOA event turned out to be the first of many over the next forty-two years that Avezzie showed up in the Charger.

Avezzie kept the Charger stock, but he did replace the body-colored wheels and dog dish hub caps with 1970 Rallye wheels. Firestone Indy 500 215/65R15 radials replaced the fiberglass-belted tires. In the late ‘90s, Avezzie decided to freshen up the Charger. With help from his son, Harley, Avezzie performed a detailed cleaning of every part of the Charger. As necessary, he replaced components with the correct date-coded parts.

During this time, Avezzie took the time to reweld several factory welds of the passenger inner fender well, which had separated after several high-speed, spirited runs on the test track at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan. After the detailed cleaning, the Charger received a fresh coat of T5 Bronze Fire Poly and a NOS bumblebee strip to complete the update. After more than fifty years of service, the saddle tan seat covers and the factory door panels remain in place.

Vowing never to use a trailer, Avezzie has driven the Charger R/T from Massachusetts to events in the Midwest and down to Ocala, Florida for “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ huge Mopar car show. To boot, Avezzie earned the coveted Galen V. Govier “By the Numbers Award” for his hard work maintaining the Charger R/T in its as-built condition.

Since 1979, Avezzie has added 25K-miles to the odometer, and with his continued attention, he anticipates the 1 of 207 Hemi 4-speed Charger R/Ts will continue to “Run with the Dodge Scat Pack” for years to come.

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Chris Holley

Technical Contributor Chris has been a college professor for 23 years; the last 18 spent at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. During the day Chris instructs automotive HVAC and electrical/electronic classes, and high-performance classes, which includes the usage of a chassis dyno, flow benches, and various machining equipment at night. Chris owns a '67 Dart, a '75 Dart, a '06 Charger, 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 32 years.

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