1968 Charger heads Kiwi couple's classic car passion

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 11:52 03/07/2013

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Pauline Jackson always wanted a Dodge Charger.

She had a '72 for a while but it was the shape of the '68 that really attracted her.

Husband Noel had no qualms about it.

"They ran this body from 1968 to 1970, 1968 was the horsepower year; after 1970 they lost the plot," he says.

The couple, from near Fairlie in South Canterbury, have a shared love of cars and motorcycles.

Noel and Pauline became interested in Italian motorcycles more than 20 years ago, and about the same time Harley Davidsons were starting to appear in New Zealand.

They were some of the early owners of Shovelhead Harley Davidsons, and later had one of the first evolution Softails in New Zealand and later still, Buell motorcycles.

They founded High Country Motorcycles in 1986 and these days specialise in customising bikes.

"Evil bikes and evil cars," Noel calls it.

The business has put bread and butter on the table but they are now making more time for their cars, especially pre-1970 and American.

The fleet includes a 1970 Dodge Challenger and 1969 Plymouth.

"The baddies in the movies always drove Chryslers," Noel says.

The couple bought the '68 out from the United States in 2006.

In much need of some TLC, the project was stalled when the world economy crashed.

"We didn't have money to spend on it," Pauline says.

Noel has done most of the work.

"The engine is 383 cubic inch, the original engine, the wheels have been tidied up, engine bay tidied up, upholstered, instruments working and electronics working.

"The biggest outlay was getting the front and back bumpers chromed."

It took much time and money, he says.

"The stainless steel mouldings have been stripped and all the linings on the doors and shuts on the door panels."

Some upholstery was needed and the cracked dash fixed.

Ingenuity was used to save time and money. Particle board was handy during the process of relining.

Mechanically, the brakes were rebuilt, brake boosters recoated and the radiator replaced.

"It goes well; high compression, high horsepower. It has 374 horsepower," Noel says.

Pauline says it looks good, rides nice and goes around corners well. She also doesn't seem in a hurry to part with it, turning down an offer of $70,000 cash just as recently as last week.

It's not so economical on the fuel at $120 for the 125km round trip between Fairlie and Timaru but the ride is worth it.

Cars are a good escape from motorbikes, Pauline says.

"We are both motorbike people and we had children, then cars came along.

"Our kids are 14 and 17 and they like cars."

The couple say their cars get used all the time and are looked after very well.

"The whole thing is a shared responsibility, a shared partnership and commitment," Pauline says.

"It boils down to not being a jack of all trades but being versatile."

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- The Timaru Herald

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