When it comes to 1970 Dodge Chargers, it’s safe to say Bill Woessner has the market cornered on them. With a large collection of 1970 Charger R/T’s in his garage, Bill can admit he’s just a little obsessed and he has every right to as his passion for 1970 Chargers dates back to 1978!
“In 1973, my father was graduating high school and purchased his first 1970 Charger. It was an SE model with a 383, B5 Blue inside and out and finished off with a black top. He traded up to the ’70 SE from his previous ’68 R/T 440 4 speed which was tired and suffering rust issues from the harsh Pittsburgh winters. My parents dated for years in this car and ended up getting married in 1976 using the Charger in the middle of a February snow storm. At that time, my father started his career with the local electrical company and as the money got better, he started looking for another Charger,” says Bill.
In February 1978, Bill’s father tracked down a purchased a black ’70 Charger R/T 440 4-Speed w a unique saddle interior. Shortly after in March, Bill was born and the Charger would be used for just weekend joy rides and occasional summer trips to work. He tells us, “I have great memories of my brother and I in the back seat cruisin’ and every time we would go for a “Charger Ride”, we’d wear our General Lee T-shirts and have our cool “Bo Duke” sunglasses on.”
He continues to say, “We went on many trips to the local ice cream stand and local parks to enjoy the beautiful weather while at the same time, my dad got to enjoy his Charger. Occasionally, Mom wouldn’t want to go so it was just dad and I tearing up the streets in the Charger while I was sitting shotgun. After a while, I was able to start sitting on his lap shifting the pistol grip shifter but those stories were kept top secret from my mom!”
Growing up around ’70 Chargers as a kid, it’s no surprise that Bill lives and breathes everything to do with them. His father of course has always been the exact same. In 1982, his father decided to add to his collection of already three 1970 Chargers and purchased yet another: this time a B7 Dark Blue 1970 Charger R/T SE.
Bill tells us, “My father saw a local neighborhood kid that just graduated high school driving this car around in our neighborhood back in the day. He would do burnouts everywhere with it but shortly after purchasing it realized it wasn’t going to be the best car in the winter months! Loving 1970 Chargers, my father automatically struck up a conversation with him, not immediately recognizing the car had a retractable sunroof. A couple of months later, the kid came by and offered the Charger for sale for $3,000. Of course, he bought it.”
“I was told it came out east from California around 1975. The original owner was in the Navy and got re-assigned to Virginia. He had family in Pennsylvania and during a trip out there to see them, he decided to trade the Charger in at a local Chrysler dealership where he got $800 on trade for it. At this time, it had around 23,000 miles on it. The salesmen doing the deal ended up selling the Charger to his sister and brother-in-law”, Bill shares.
The sunny California weather took it’s tool on the factory B7 paint and white top so the RT SE was treated to a repaint and a new top throughout the mid 70’s. The 440 was resealed and cleaned up and the factory 727 was upgraded so it could handle the tow job of his 68 Charger racecar to the local 1/8 mile track. He continues to say, After an incident involving her hitting her husband’s truck with the Charger, it was poorly repaired and sold to the kid that my father purchased it from.” This new addition to his father’s collection was a jaw dropper and absolutely loaded with options.
Sold new at Howard Taylor Dodge Inc. in San Diego, California, the Charger came equipped with a power sunroof, power windows, air conditioning, center console, six-way driver seat adjuster, tinted glass, dual mirrors, rear window defogger, undercoating, sill/rocker moldings, AM/FM radio, rear seat speaker, Woodgrain sports steering wheel, 15×7 Rallye wheels, tachometer, Sure Grip differential and the aforementioned Special Edition Package. All of these options added up to one hefty sticker price; $5,850.65; quite the jump over the Charger R/T’s base price of $3,711.00.
Under the hood came the R/T’s standard U-Code 440 Magnum engine and was backed with a console shifted 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission. Complementing the striking B7 Dark Blue exterior paint was a contrasting B5 blue leather interior accented by a classy white vinyl top. To keep with the classy theme, any type of exterior stripe was deleted for a clean and sleek look.
After purchasing the Charger, Bill’s father would drive it for a few months before sticking it away for safe keeping in a dirt floor pole barn out of the elements with only 29,000 miles on the clock. There it would sit until September 2014 when Bill decided to pull it out of the barn and bring it home for a full restoration. Bill tells us, “At this point, I had restored the TX9 black ’70 4-Speed car which I took ownership of but I hadn’t done an actual rotisserie restoration yet. Obviously this car deserved one being as how rare it was with its options so I tore it down and started on it.”
Besides sending out a few minor parts to get rebuilt, Bill performed the rest of the restoration at home in his garage with the help of his father and brother Brian. Everyone helped with the teardown, even Bill’s son and daughter! Once he had the body mounted on a rotisserie, he did all of the metal work in house, replacing or repairing any rusted or damaged metal. With the metal and body work complete, it was sprayed a beautiful fresh coat of B7 Dark Blue by Ryan Hoffman in Pittsburgh, PA.
The numbers matching 440 was taken apart, bored .20 over and fully rebuilt to factory specifications. The numbers matching 727 Torqueflite automatic and 8 ¾ rear end were also fully rebuilt to factory specifications before being installed back into the Charger. Not a single nut and bolt on the car was left alone and everything was truly restored to factory specification.
Bill took a lot of pride in this restoration and was able to complete the task in a quick 18 months. Working a full time job that’s very demanding and having a family involved in multiple activities was a challenge but we made it work. Bill restored each component to the smallest detail, used primarily NOS or original parts and was striving for the best restored 70 Charger on the planet. Correct plating and finishes were a must, original hardware was the only option and only the original paint splotches were replicated not to exceed what the factory did. No detail was left un done and the RT SE was meticulously assembled, primarily by Bill.
“Restoring and enjoying these old Chargers is something my dad always wanted to do but never had the means or time to do so”, said Bill. Now we get to enjoy them together. Bill always has a rare 70 Charger in the garage that’s being restored and he’s currently underway on another 70 sunroof car, this time with multiple carbs and a 4 speed. Just when you think it can’t get any better!
Once the restoration was complete, it was debuted at the MCACN Sunroof Invitational sponsored by the Wellborn Musclecar Museum in 2016. Since then, it has won numerous awards, has been in many publications and is the true center piece to the Woessner’s 1970 Charger collection.
*Special thank you to Geoff Stunkard from Mopar Action Magazine for the use of some of his fantastic photographs!*