“My fascination with the 1973 Dodge Charger goes back to when Richard Petty drove his famous red and blue #43 Charger in NASCAR. I was always a huge Richard Petty fan growing up and when I first saw that Charger, I instantly fell in love. The lines of the 1973-1974 Chargers were just so cool”, explains Doug Larsson of Washington.
Fast forwarding to March 17th, 1982, it was St. Patrick’s Day and a 16-year-old Doug was looking for his first car. He explains, “My Dad and I had been looking but never really found anything that he deemed dependable enough for me to drive. Honestly, back then a Dodge Charger wasn’t even on my radar despite the fact that I had fallen in love with Richard Petty’s when I was younger. I just wanted a cool muscle car to drive.”
That all changed though when a silver 1973 Charger pulled into his driveway being driven by his Dad’s co-worker. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! My jaw dropped. My Dad said, “Here’s your car!” It was such a beautiful car. It had a sunroof with a 400 automatic. I was super excited. All of my friends in high school had muscle cars and now I had one”, he continues to say.
Thinking back to his love for Richard Petty’s Charger, Doug decided that he wanted to get his Charger painted Petty Blue with all of the racing stripes and decals to match Richard Petty’s but his Dad quickly shut that idea down. “He said, “Look, you’re going to have enough problems with the police with this loud car the way it sits. Now you really want to attract more attention to yourself?” Once I realized that, I decided to keep it silver. Six months later, I got a ticket for going 50 in a 35. Looking back now, I figure it probably would have been worse if it had been painted Petty Blue with decals,” Doug laughs.
Two years later as gas starting getting more expensive and the Charger started breaking down on him, Doug decided to sell it as he needed a dependable car for his new job. “I look back on that day when I sold it and shake my head. I really wish I would have found a way to keep it rather than sell it,” he says. Back in the ’90s, Doug tried to find the VIN number to hopefully locate the car but never had any luck.
Over the years, Doug realized he wasn’t going to be able to find his old Charger so he decided to look for one similar to his old one. Every once in a while he would find one similar but the timing was never right to make the purchase.
In February 2016, Doug was finally in the position to buy another car so he decided to check out a local muscle car dealership when a 1972 Corvette caught his eye. He explains, “Those have always been one of my other dream cars that I’ve liked a lot. My uncle Ken had an orange one in the late ’60s and I have fond memories of that car even though I was really young back then”.
Doug decided to post a picture of the Corvette up on Facebook where his brother-in-law commented up and told him that he needed to not give up and that he should stick to his original dream of finding another Charger like the one he had in high school. He told his brother-in-law that there was one for sale in Laguna Beach, CA about a year prior but it had the opera windows and no sunroof otherwise it was close including being JA5 Dark Silver Poly with a 400 automatic. It was a two owner car but it had been owned within the same family. It was a really nice solid Charger however, they wanted too much for it.
“He told me to call them and see if they still had it. If they did, make an offer; so I did just that. We ended up agreeing on a price as long as the inspection came back good. Everything did with only minor work being needed so I flew down to California, test drove it personally and closed the deal. I ended up leaving it down there for about 3 weeks so they could complete some work that needed to be done on it before shipping it up to me”, he tells us.
He continues to say, “It was supposed to show up on March 18th, 2016 on a transporter however I received an email letting me know that it was showing up a day earlier. It didn’t dawn on me until I was driving it home that it was exactly 34 years to the day that my first silver 1973 Charger showed up in my driveway. I got pretty emotional because I lost my dad 10 months earlier, and he knew how much I wanted another 1973 Charger.”
Once he got it home, Doug went to work replacing and upgrading certain things on the Charger. He had Ultra Motorsports in Frederickson, WA install a brand new black vinyl top and headliner. From there, Chris Holstrom Concepts in Puyallup, WA installed a new fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel pump, Edelbrock Performer intake manifold, Edelbrock 600CFM carburetor, MSD distributor, coil and wires. A brand new Champion radiator was also installed.
Next, Doug completely overhauled the suspension with new leaf springs from ESPO Springs ‘n Things along with a FirmFeel suspension rebuild kit with larger torsion bars and front sway bar. He explains, “I’ve never been a big fan of the front and rear bumper fillers on these cars so I ended up tucking both bumpers and repainted all of the bumper components and grilles. It looks way better now!”
He continues to say, “When I purchased this car, I had the mechanical skill to do a lot of the work but not a lot of knowledge with the exact ins-and-outs of the car itself. ForBBodiesOnly.com has come in handy quite a bit along with the numerous Third Generation Dodge Charger Facebook groups with the various things I’ve done on the car. They have help me more than they probably know. Their knowledge is a huge advantage to getting it done the right way.”
“My Charger is far from perfect, and I still have a lot to do to it but I enjoy working on it. It will never be a trailer queen as I try to drive it to work or car cruises whenever possible. From a kid watching Richard Petty back in the early ’70’s on TV to now; I’m living a dream to drive a car my idol once drove to a Daytona 500 win! All is good in life!”