Members Cars (Archive)
1974 VJ Charger
Phillip De Sousa
Last Updated: 25/05/2018
This is my 1974 Valiant VJ Charger, that I have owned for about 3 years now. It has had one previous owner, a nice old lady who drove it to church and golf (there are small dents in the boot chrome trim where she had put her clubs in the boot!). I wasn’t lucky enough to be around when the Chargers ruled the roads, even when they ceased production but I have always loved them and wished to own one. I get to drive it every day (even with the ever-increasing fuel prices!) and have been slowly rebuilding and modifying it since I bought it.
Mechanically, the car is close to stock at the moment, running a 215ci low comp Hemi 6 cylinder, the only change being an upgrade to a dual carbie from a 265. The transmission is the original 3-speed column shift manual and brakes are stock discs up front and drums on the rear. The original 7-inch alloys have been hand-polished with new chrome centre caps and are wrapped in BF Goodrich red-wall tyres that I had imported from California, USA. Future mechanical plans include an upgrade to a 265ci Hemi engine and a 4-speed manual transmission.
The original blue vinyl interior needed an upgrade and the first thing I did was the fitting of a sound system. A Kenwood CD head unit has been custom fitted into what used to be the ashtray (definitely no smoking in my car!), 6-inch Kenwood splits sit in custom kick panels while a pair of Kenwood 6 x 9-inch speakers are in the rear door panels. Future plans for the sound system include twin subwoofers and amp set-up in a redone boot area.
When it came to restoring the rest of the interior, I had a good idea of what I wanted. I know it’s considered a cardinal sin for a 1970’s Mopar not to have a black interior but I wanted something different that still appeared almost factory. I opted for a bold red/black interior consisting of red marine vinyl (marine vinyl has better UV protection and can get wet) and red cloth inserts with black piping along the original design lines of the interior. Other touches to the interior include smoothing over the rear parcel shelf and dash top, deleting the ashtrays from behind the seats (again with the no smoking!) and the addition of late model Commodore retractable seatbelts up front. Small rust spots in the floor and boot area where fibre-glassed and the area rust proofed before the black carpet and hood lining were fitted. The original dash was replaced by a 770 item that has been pulled apart and painted to suit the rest of the interior, even with the globes painted to glow red. The hole in the dash where a previous owner had a stereo was filled in with a Valiant badge on a piece of painted Perspex attached to a modified indicator that glows red with the rest of the dash lights. Because I wasn’t ready to paint the car, I opted to recover the vinyl roof at the same time the interior was being done. I haven’t seen a Charger with a vinyl roof like this before and my car doesn’t have the code for a vinyl roof so if it’s special, I’m glad I kept it.
The panel and paint is on my to-do list although the body is still in pretty good condition, with the only severe rust being behind the rear wheel arch and the bottom corner of the boot lid. I would like to give it a real good smoothing over and keep it white in colour, maybe with some red pin striping? I still haven’t decided yet. The car has new rubber seals on the doors and windows and a modified grille treatment is soon to be added.
Enjoy the pics and I will keep you up to date with the mods to the car.