A 1966 Dodge Charger’s Connection with Canadian Band
Owner: Ron Edelenbos
Location: Beeton, Ontario, Canada
Year, Make, and Model: 1966 Dodge Charger
Photographer: Ron Edelenbos
I’ve been a car nut all my life but never thought of considering a classic muscle car—I was always a European car fan, specifically from 1973 to the late ’80s. Part of the reason for my Euro car passion was due to the rarity of the cars and the fact that I did not want to be mainstream and drive the same old classic car as everyone else—I needed something different. I spent quite a few years with The Volvo Club of America, attending shows and contributing to the club when possible. Back then I had a wonderful 1978 242 GT that I had restored and later owned a rare 1987 Volvo 765 Turbo plus sport-wagon that was a custom order from Europe with all the Euro goodies on it. It was the envy of all the 700 series owners at the club shows I attended.
I found a Volvo-specific performance company called IPD out of Oregon and before I knew it, I was tuning it and turning it into a great street touring car. Back in 1993, I was already thinking Pro Touring, but in that same decade came family responsibilities, so my Volvos were sold off—my kids, mortgage, and family life came first.
In 2004 I turned 40 and took this as an opportunity to get a jump start on my mid-life crisis. Work was good, kids were older, and my wife was more understanding, so after my “crisis” announcement, I began my search for a nice classic cruiser. Initially, I searched for an early M-series BMW or Datsun 240 Z, but after months of searching and becoming discouraged, my neighbor suggested looking for a muscle car. He and I started looking for a muscle car that could still be considered “something different”, and very quickly we found a teal ’67 Dodge Charger on eBay. We bid the car up but lost it by $100 for being late on the enter key.
I spent the spring searching for the right car and again eventually lost hope, so I started looking at the European cars again. When the October 2004 edition of Popular Hot Rodding came out, I saw a stunning black ’66 Dodge Charger on the cover. It inspired me, so once again the hunt was on. By Thanksgiving I had located a Dodge Charger and trailered it from Detroit back home to Beeton, Ontario. This Charger was one of 37,344 built in 1966 and one of 53,132 first-generation Chargers built in 1966 and 1967.
On my trip back home from Detroit with my ’66 Charger in tow, a sense of relief came over me as I crossed the border into Canada. I had bought the car over the phone, sight unseen, and I’d given the seller half of the money up front! It was a risky move, but I followed by gut, and it worked out well, because the car was just as the seller had described it. Actually, it was even better. We made it over the border with no paperwork problems, despite the fact that it’s very tricky to import a hot rod. When these things go bad, they go really bad.
When we were an hour into Canada, my buddy who was driving asked me, “What are you going to call it?” I didn’t know the answer, but at that moment a Big Sugar song came on the radio, so I decided I needed to call it “Big Sugar”, because it’s big, it’s white, and it rocks. A few years earlier, I had gotten hooked on this band—it was very big in Canada at the time. The band is fronted by a Canadian-born gentleman by the name of Gordie Johnson. On some of Gordie’s early albums, he used Mopar references in his album art and named one album “Hemivision”.
The following year, Gordie was working on a side project band called Grady, and I entered a radio contest to win tickets to a private show, which I won. The prize also included a meet-and-greet and it all happened to be on my birthday. Talk about good luck. I got my chance to sit down and talk Mopar with Gordie and asked him a few questions about the ’70 Charger R/T that appeared on his latest Big Sugar album. He told me a bit about the history and then mentioned that he was about to pick up a new car, a white ’66 Dodge Charger. I showed him a picture of mine, and he said, “That’s my car!” Apparently Gordie’s Charger wears the same American racing Torque Flite rims. From 10 feet, his car could be mistaken for mine. We laughed at the coincidence. A few years later, Gordie signed my Charger’s center console. He happens to write with his left hand like I do.
Four years after I’d owned the car, I received a message through a forum from a guy in California who had seen photos of my car, loved it, and couldn’t get over its beauty. After a few messages back and forth, I realized that he owned the black ’66 Charger that had been on the cover of the October 2004 Popular Hot Rodding that had inspired me to search for my own. Needless to say, I sent him a bunch of Big Sugar CDs.
When I purchased the Charger in 2004, I immediately looked at handling options and started beefing up the unibody with structural braces and frame connectors to tighten up the ride. In 2007 the Charger was involved in a collision, which gave me the opportunity follow my initial dream of getting it to handle like a modern performance car. As of now the chassis has all the latest reinforcements to get the unibody nice and tight and to provide a sound foundation for the Hotchkis suspension and Bilstein shocks it’s running. For stopping power I’m using a Viper front calliper setup with as well as discs out back. A Mopar A 518 overdrive transmission is being built for next year’s driving season to make the long-distance cruising a little more enjoyable. The interior is all classic first-generation Charger—it’s hard to mess with an interior like that, but its hard to mess with an interior like that, but I am planning to install a more modern safety restraint system in the car as well as some bolstered seating for those days I want to turn up the heat.
It’s nice to build the Charger up as I drive it, because I can feel the upgrades along the way. So far it’s been a great ride and as the Big Sugar song goes, it “rides like hell”!
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