Gordon Wise’s 1973 Charger

This Charger was upgraded to better withstand the rigors of street use and still look show worthy.

Text and photos by Mark Ehlen / MCR staff

It’s no secret that many, if not most, car guys are greatly influenced by those they encounter in their younger years. In the case of Gordon Wise, it started when his father brought home this ’73 Charger when he was just seven years old. It was the family car he grew up with. Not a car like this one, this exact car.


What really turned him on to Mopars though was when his dad gave him the car when he turned 16. It’s not hard to imagine how cool it must have been to be seen driving this Charger in his high school parking lot. But Gordon’s story is that it was in fairly rough shape by then. Likely due to the results of Midwestern winters.


What really turned Gordon into a Mopar guy was working on his Charger in high school auto shop class. At one point he says that he had three parts cars in the driveway. By the time he went to college it was drivable and he even got to drive at his wedding.


But then, as the story frequently goes, family life happened and the car had to sit in the garage until the kids got through college. After his father passed in 2010, the car and its memories took on an even greater meaning so the decision was made to have MCR’s expert craftsmen restore it so it could be driven and enjoyed once again. The plan was to make it a weekend driver.
Gordon remarked, “I could never understand why people would go through the process of restoring a car and not use it.”


To that end, the MCR team built it for fun. It still received all the attention that goes into an MCR Platinum restoration except that some of the underside finishes are upgraded to better withstand the rigors of street use and still look show worthy.


The 440 is potent enough to be exciting but not over the top. Gordon says the Six Pack fuel injection is mostly just for bling when he opens the hood and while the bling factor is accurate it also really improves the drivability of a 6-barrel set up. Four wheel Wilwood disc brakes allow the stop pedal to keep up with the power pedal and a 5-speed Tremec gives the original 4-speed feel with the added bonus of an overdrive for high speed cruising.

Gordon says that he’s not someone that’s into car shows and that he’s doubtful he’ll ever show it but the truth is every time it’s out on the road it will have the same effect.

The 440 looks generally stock with the exception of an MSD distributor, Billet Specialties pulleys and a Wizard radiator. Also note the Wilwood disc brake system.
Pop off the air cleaner though and yes there is a Six Pack hiding under there but it’s not a trio of Holleys. Rather it’s an F&B EFI system complete with fully adjustable progressive linkage that’s controlled by a Holley HP self-learning system. All the CFM of an original Six Pack but with the fine tuned drivability of modern EFI.
Talk about a flat torque curve! From 3100 RPM all the way to the end of the run. At the rear wheels, this 440 made 422 HP and 471 lb-ft torque. Raw engine dyno numbers were 560 HP and 633 pounds of torque.
The cockpit is restored factory original with an SE wheel and pistol grip shifter. What’s not seen is a Vintage Air unit hidden under the dash blowing both heat and A/C through the factory vents.
Front and rear seats and carpet are all factory black retaining the original look.
SE models got louvered quarter windows with a black vinyl top.
MCR’s metal technicians made use of a number of Auto Metal Direct parts to undo the damage caused by many Midwestern winters and return the body to full factory specs.
Some of you may remember that ’73 was the first year for federally mandated 5 MPH bumpers. In order to meet that standard, the bumpers had to be spaced away from the body and lengthened to avoid contact with the sheet metal during a minor collision. Plastic fillers were used to try to fill in the gaps but they still looked out of place.
One of MCR’s expert metal workers shortened the bumper brackets and sectioned the bumpers to draw them up close and even with the body.
Finished bumpers now look correct on the car and gone are those ugly plastic fillers.
The black vinyl top is a great contrast to the PPG Aquabase paint that MCR custom mixed to match 1971 Dodge Top Banana Yellow. Gordon opted for the full wet sand, buff and optically polished paint finish. Essentially this car is a giant yellow mirror.
The stance is just a bit lower than stock. Enough to make it look just right without affecting drivability.

Sources

Holley Performancewww.holley.com
F&B Throttle Bodieshttp://www.fbthrottlebodies.com/
Auto Metal Direct (AMD)http://www.autometaldirect.com/
Muscle Car Restorations, Inc.https://www.musclecarrestorations.com
Tremechttps://www.tremec.com/