Critical Mass Of 80s-ness Achieved: 1984 Dodge Shelby Charger

Illustration for article titled Critical Mass Of 80s-ness Achieved: 1984 Dodge Shelby Charger

So you've got numbers-matching, date-code-obsessed Mopar fanatics paying forty octillion bucks for 318-powered '70 Chargers, and you've got Shelby fanatics paying eighty octillion bucks for replica AC Cobras. How about a super-rare automatic-equipped '84 Shelby Charger?

Illustration for article titled Critical Mass Of 80s-ness Achieved: 1984 Dodge Shelby Charger

How many slushbox '84s are left nowadays? A few hundred? And this one is going straight to The Crusher! Oh, just you wait— the Early Post-Malaise Era performance cars are gonna be The Next Big Thing!

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Piloter, raging against the machine.

I've never liked junkyards, they depress all kinds of hell out of me. I don't see them as much as a source for scrap parts as more like a 'bring your own bonesaw!' morgue. Every car, whether or not it had its own soul, meant something important to somebody once.

You travel among the corpses of the dead or unwanted, most struck down in their prime, many fixable if somebody gave a damn. As a gearhead, you know a little something about each of them, know what they look like and sound like in their health and gradual senility, but this is all just a gallery of blunt force trauma.

You go, with your surgical tools, for petty parts transplants or major work. You can be rough with the removal. Nobody will care. Nobody will know. You can fill your pockets with ghoulish souvenirs of their former pride in displacement or trim level or model.

You'll see other Doctor Frankesteins out there as well, quiet solitary men who move with an air of determination and frequently expertise that you could only wish you had. Carrion crows, like you. Feasting on the dead. Skilled at obtaining the best bits from many previous feasts. Nothing here, unless the lot has a triage section, will ever run again.

Like mad scientists, some may rescue entire bodies from here. Some of these will live again, a very few. Enough to give hope to the idea, but few enough to make it ring hollow. The body has to be right, the scientist has to be right, the timing and the lightning have to be right. Most of the ones that will vanish will vanish to be stripped at greater leisure, individual bones of the frame chopped away for a desperate transplant into somebody's pet monster. You've not sunk that far. Yet.

You come away with arms filthy to the elbow. Grease, oil, dirt, mud, any possible number of fluids. Like a Civil War surgeon, you may have had to wear a thick garment to avoid being soaked through. It will take perhaps a week to get the grisly Macbethian evidence scrubbed the rest of the way off.

Opportunistic bugs flock around the automotive corpses as well. No spider will ever seem quite so big or as colorful as the one you find dangling just above your face when you're too far into a dashboard to jerk free in startlement. They're predators too, benefitting from death just as you are.

You pay your tax to the guardians of the body pile and scurry home. The sight of your less-damaged live subject is like dunking cold hands in warm water. It burns, but it's so, so welcome. A few minutes with tools suffice, this time bringing health to life. It feels different, somehow, this way around.

When you're done, you can't help but wonder at what you've accomplished. You've grafted a little piece of somebody else's cherished corpse to your runner. Will it take? Was it really a better alternative than a new one? No matter what, this whatever-it-is is a stranger to you, it's had its own life and history before, which you'll never know anything about save the manner of gruesome death. Was this the radio knob that was used to find a young couple's favorite station before they made sweet memories of their own in the back seat? All you know is that all that was left of the back seat was the trunk shoved up to dent the front seats from where a car very visibly lost an argument with something very visibly bigger.

You drive carefully, then. You'll do so for longer the more you transplanted. The back of your thoughts insist on picturing you walking away from the latest entry to that macabre spectacle...your own precious companion.

There's a reason I buy new or reconditioned parts.