- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2009

Almost 40 years ago, Ken Adam’s parents sent him off to college with an incentive. “My dad and mom promised me that if I made good grades my freshman year they would buy me a new car when I came home for the summer,” he recalls.

“I knew they would keep their promise so I studied real hard and made good grades,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to get home after that spring semester to start looking for that new car that I would take back to school the following fall semester.”

In the summer of 1970 the streets were full of muscle cars. Every automaker offered such a variety of hot cars the young man had difficulty in selecting just one. Finally, he decided that a Dodge Charger would be the car of his dreams. The full-circle front bumper with the hidden headlights and grille captivated him.

With the decision made, “Every weekend dad and I visited several dealerships in and around Houston, looking for a red Charger with a white vinyl top.

“One day we walked into the Lusk Dodge dealership in Baytown, Texas, and there she sat on the showroom floor,” Mr. Adam remembers. “It was not a red Charger, but a light metallic green, with a white vinyl top, raised white letter Goodyear tires, A/C and a 383 Magnum V-8. It was sweet,” he said.

All thoughts of a red Charger were dismissed. He immediately changed his mind and remembers telling his father, “That’s the one.”

After his father wrote a check for about $3,400, the young Mr. Adam drove his new Dodge home through the hot July evening.

“I was so proud,” Mr. Adam said. “I couldn’t wait to show my mom back in Crosby, Texas.”

The Charger provided flashy transportation for Mr. Adam during his last three years at school and then some before he made a big mistake in 1975 and sold his dream car.

What was done was done. For the next quarter-century Mr. Adam says, he never thought much about his old Charger.

Then, in 1999, Mr. Adam’s younger brother, Doyle, said that he had just seen what he thought was a 1970 Dodge Charger like his brother’s old car and that he stopped to get the telephone number on the for sale sign in the car window. A couple of days later, with low expectations, Mr. Adam telephoned the owner and arranged a viewing.

Much to his surprise he found a twin to his earlier Dodge - the only difference being a dark green vinyl covering instead of a white one. It had been driven 92,000 miles. Mr. Adam bought it on the spot.

He kept his purchase a secret from his family until he had restored the Dodge. When the paint was stripped off he was happy to see neither rust nor any previous bodywork. When his brother inquired about the car, he told him that it had been an undesirable “rust bucket.”

The 383-cubic-inch V-8 was rebuilt with a Holley double pumper carburetor so it could develop 335 horsepower like it did when new. Just like his first Dodge, this car was equipped with power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, dual exterior mirrors and an AM/FM radio. Minor alterations to the Dodge include an electronic ignition system and replacement of the original 14-inch bias-ply tires with 15-inch radial tires. “I get a lot better ride,” Mr. Adam reports.

Following four months of intensive work, the Dodge was about to receive a fresh coat of light metallic green paint. What could possibly go wrong?

The Dodge had been stripped and sprayed with primer and taken to a paint shop. When Mr. Adam returned he found a flawless coat of “dark” metallic green paint on his car. The painter attempted to convince him that dark green was as good, if not better, than light green. Adam wouldn’t budge. He wanted this Dodge to be a clone of his first Dodge.

The new Dodge, with a white vinyl top, was re-stripped and re-painted the correct color and delivered to Mr. Adam with a color to match the green upholstery.

Soon afterward, Mr. Adam drove his like-new 3,293-pound Charger to a reunion at his alma mater. His fraternity brothers were amazed to see him drive up in a car identical to the one they remembered him driving in the early 1970s. His family was equally surprised to see the finished product.

“The enjoyment I get is totally indescribable,” Adam says. “The smell, the sound and the ride are priceless.”

For your car to become the subject of the Out of the Past column, send a photo (frontal 3/4 view), plus brief details and phone number to Vern Parker, 2221 Abbotsford Drive, Vienna, VA 22181.

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