The first-generation Dodge Charger is a popular classic nowadays; many are paraded at car events or showcased in museums. But the sad truth is that most of them are still rotting away in junkyards and barns, hoping they will get a second chance at life. The 1968 example you see here got lucky after 40 years in a barn.
How did it end up sitting for so long? Well, I guess the owner retired it due to mechanical problems or stopped driving it because he got a more modern car. Either way, it happens more often than you think, with millions of 1960s vehicles still rotting away across the US as of 2023. And while this Charger might have gotten lucky, it’s in pretty bad shape overall.
Even though it had a roof over its “head,” this Mopar has quite a few rust issues, especially on the left-side front fender. The paint is worn out, but I can still tell it’s a Burgundy Poly example. It’s not the most fabulous 1968 hue, though, especially now when it looks more like a primer than a factory paint job. On the flip side, the vinyl top is in surprisingly good condition, still covering every inch of the roof from the top to the bottom of the pillars.
The interior appears complete, but the upholstery is toast and needs to be replaced entirely. But the floors are still solid, which is good news for a car that’s been sitting for four decades. But what about the engine? Is this Charger fitted with one of Mopar’s more desirable V8 units? Does it still run?
Our host does not mention what type of unit it has or whether it’s a numbers-matching mill, but it’s not a 426-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) HEMI or a 440-cubic-inch (7.2-liter) RB. Based on the turquoise color of the engine block, this Charger packs a 383-cubic-inch (6.3-liter) V8 with a two-barrel carburetor setup. Yes, the HEMI and the 440 also had turquoise blocks in 1968, but this mill is definitely smaller.
One of Dodge’s entry-level powerplants in the 1968 Charger, alongside the 318-cubic-inch (5.2-liter) V8, the 383 two-barrel came with 290 horsepower and 390 pound-feet (529 Nm) of torque. The company also offered a four-barrel variant good for 330 horses and 425 pound-feet (576 Nm) of twist.
Not surprisingly, after 40 years without a sip of gasoline, the engine struggles to fire up. The rescuers give up on it after a few tries when it becomes apparent that it won’t run without a rebuild. But according to the video’s comments section, they’re not planning on doing that because they have a 440 Six Pack to swap.
The latter was added to the Charger lineup for the 1970 model year, so it’s not a period-correct replacement, but it’s a solid option if you don’t want a modern mill under the hood. Rated at 390 horsepower, the Six Pack delivered 15 more horses than the regular 440 V8. It was also the second-most powerful mill in 1970, below the 425-horsepower HEMI.
Bottom line, it’s unclear whether this 1968 Charger will get a complete restoration or just a mild refresh to go with the engine swap. But both are solid options as long as this Mopar makes it back on public roads.