Project Car Hell, Fastback Edition: Charger or Marlin?S

You young whippersnappers with your turbo this and Japanese that... why, back when men were men, four-wheel drum brakes were Safe Enough, and it looked like we were winning the Vietnam War (i.e., pre-Tet Offensive), AMC and Chrysler came out with midsize sedans equipped with big engines, fastback rooflines, and lots of glass. And when you wanted forced induction back then, you didn't put no newfangledy turbowhatzits on the car- you cut a big goddamn hole in the hood and stuck a 6-71 on that thang!


Never mind what the Loverman says about the early Chargers being "frumpy," Chrysler's response to the gauntlet thrown down by the fishy Rambler (OK, fine, it was more a response to the hot-selling GTO) is a fine-looking machine! Break away from the herd of '68-70 B-body drivers and get yourself something like, say, this 1966 Charger! Yes, you're not hallucinating- that's just one grand for a genuine pre-Malaise Dodge Charger! And, of course, with that sweet price comes a few challenges. First of all, the seller seems vague about the mechanical condition, which generally means "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will hide the fact that nothing on this car works!" Then you gotta figure there's some serious rust involved, what with this car being from Missouri. Last- but certainly not least- is the lack of any sort of paperwork verifying ownership, so you'll need to do some negotiating with DMV officials who might be somewhat less than understanding about your situation. However, mechanical parts should be quite plentiful (body parts might be more difficult, though some Coronet stuff ought to fit), and imagine the kid-in-candy-store drivetrain choices you'd have! How about a 440 with the aforementioned 6-71, with pistol-grip 4-speed? Or, hell, a Viper V10! It can be done... with enough money and time.

But say even an early Charger is just too mainstream for your taste. Come to think of it, any car from Detroit is too mainstream. Maybe you need a stylish fastback from Kenosha, Wisconsin! How about this 1965 Rambler Marlin? At $2250 it's more than twice the price of the Charger, but it's also more complete. Plus, being a California car, there's not going to be as much rust. However, it's been stored since 1984, which (if it's been outdoors the whole time) means the trunk has probably filled with water every winter, and you can assume that the entire fuel system, all seals, and most electrical connectors are totally garbooned. The seller doesn't say anything about mechanical condition... but then, after 23 years of storage he doesn't need to say anything. The engine is the AMC 327, which isn't a bad engine, but the selection of go-fast parts is limited enough that we recommend the application of 401 cubes of Wisconsin horsepower as Item #1 on your checklist; you can defray a tiny percentage of your cost by selling the 327 to a Rambler fanatic. Restoring the interior... well, it might be a bit hard to find stuff like door panels and trim pieces, but that's what the Internet (and a fat wallet) is all about, right? Just imagine how all those dime-a-dozen Charger drivers will blend into the background as you roar up in your baaaaad Marlin!

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Project Car Hell Song