More Bumblebee Stripes: 1968 Dodge Coronet R/T

June 3, 2011 § Leave a comment


Dodge Fever: 1968 Dodge Coronet R/T

This ad from Hot Rod Magazine implored drivers to “Save the competition for the track. Be a friendly driver.” Guess that tells you something about what people were doing a lot of the time with these powerful cars.

These also were available as a convertible.

I hope he won’t mind me borrowing his story, but I thought it was kind of cool so thought I would reproduce part of it here. This is how Darrell West found his ’68 Coronet R/T after looking for one to restore for quite awhile (courtesy of http://darrellwest.com/index.htm).

…But for some reason, I was really drawn to the Coronet body style.  I considered a Super Bee, which is certainly the most famous Coronet.  But the Bee was really designed as a ‘stripper’ hot rod, similar to the Plymouth Roadrunner.  These cars usually came with one thing I can’t deal with, bench seats.  I detest bench seats…. The other thing I really wanted was air conditioning.  I live in North Texas and it’s just plain hot (and humid) here 7 or 8 months out of the year. 

So enter the Coronet R/T.  The top of the line Coronet.  It’s only two engine choices were the 440 Magnum and the Hemi.  Nice.  They usually were ordered with more options than the Super Bee, so A/C, power steering, upgraded interiors and other options were common.  I also was drawn to the 68 model.  The 69 is the more recognized, but I liked the somewhat more subtle look of the 68.

So I began searching sometime to 2003.  I figured that since it wasn’t one of the more well known Mopars, it wouldn’t be that hard to find one.  I also needed to find one that wasn’t too far gone since it was my first restoration.  Boy was I wrong.  First of all, there were only about 7000 or so built in 68.  As with any classic car a certain percentage of those, sometimes a high percentage, would have been wrecked, crushed, or parted out.  Another problem, frankly the biggest one, is that I couldn’t afford, financially or time-wise, to run all over the country looking for one.  So I needed to find one within a few hundred miles.  I looked at eBay, Autotrader, newspapers and classic car sites weekly for two years to no avail.  I finally had given up and decided I’d broaden my search to include Chargers, Challengers, Roadrunners and just about any other Mopar that I thought was a good resto candidate.

One day my wife, son and I were driving through The Colony, Texas.  Yes, it’s called “The Colony”.  There is a little car lot on a mostly dirt and gravel patch called Pat’s that usually sells used classic cars.  These were not restored or desirable classics for the most part.  Just old, but still cool, cars.  We usually stopped by there when we were driving through just to see what was there.  So we’re walking around the lot and I remember looking underneath some car, and as I raised my head up, I was staring straight at the unmistakable grill of a 1968 Dodge Coronet R/T!  I couldn’t believe it!  I’d been fruitlessly looking for this car for two years and here it is 15 miles from my house!  The lot was closed at the time so I had to call the next day. After talking to Pat I found that the R/T was more than I wanted to pay.  However he was open to trading for my Mustang.  After some negotiations I was able to trade the Mustang for the Coronet and cash to help with the resto.  I went out to get the car on February 21, 2005. 

The car ran poorly but at least it ran, so I was pretty confident that it would be rebuildable.  After checking it out I was sure the aftermarket Carter carb was shot.  It was one of those chrome ones, which I didn’t care for, so I ordered a new Holley Street Avenger.  We got that on and the car ran much better.  In fact, it would light up the tires pretty well for a tired motor.  The 440 is a great engine.  So we drove the car as is for about eight months before tearing it down for restoration.  It reminded me why I love Mopars. 

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