White Hot – Vic Buraglio’s 1969 Dodge Charger
The 1969 Dodge Charger wasn’t the prettiest muscle car Dodge ever made. Larger, boxier and heavier (3920 lbs) than its Challenger brethren (which emerged in 1970), it needed the 426c.i. hemi to get it out of its own way. Lesser engine options resulted in a lot of frowns at the local grudge drags. They were OK for mild street use but the pony car wars were escalating and if you wanted to outsprint the Camaros, Mustangs, Olds 442 and the Buicks, the Charger wasn’t the mount of choice for most.
But there was light at the end of the performance tunnel for Charger purists. Dodge started manufacturing the “Charger Daytona” when “King Richard” Petty bolted for Ford earlier that year. Dodge rolled out the Charger 500 for Petty to campaign earlier in ’69 and it was a dismal failure so he bailed. After Petty left, the suits went all in to recreate the Charger Daytona for both competition and street use. Equipped with the 426 elephant, a giant rear wing and a sheet metal nose for better aero, the revamped Charger found the NASCAR winner’s circle twice in the fall of ’69 including Talladega. The Charger was now legit.
Enter Illinois Dodge enthusiast Vic Buraglio. Vic drove a white 1969 Dodge Charger with green guts on his honeymoon decades ago, forging a memory that has lasted a lifetime. Even though him and his new bride’s toned down Charger was powered by a wimpy 318, they still have fond memories of that trip and their car even if it took them a little longer to get up to speed.
Now retired with the means to build his dream car, Vic walked into BBT Fabrications outside Champaign, Illinois with a firm resolve to recreate his honeymoon machine but this time “It had to have a 426 hemi,” he insisted. Man did he go to the right place.
BBT founder and owner Troy Gudgel is a brilliant young fabricator and muscle car builder who is so talented he was named the Goodguys Trendsetter award recipient at the 2016 SEMA Show in front of over a thousand industry peers. Gudgel and his talented, tight-knit crew do metalwork with an old European coachbuilder’s master touch as you can see from John Jackson’s photo above taken when the Charger was wearing its birthday suit.
Just looking at these images, you can see the transformation from big and boxy to sleek and sinister. Consider these mods all done in house at BBT; front wheel wells moved 3-inches forward, hand made door skins to remove the false scoops and straighten out the bodylines as well as a handmade hood with eye-pleasing air inlets. They scratch made the tightly tucked front and rear bumpers (some of the tightest we’ve seen), sharpened the car’s corners, made the decklid spoiler, made the front fascia and modified the trim before prepping it to go to body and paint at Dutchboys Hot Rods in Kalamazoo, Michigan. No more ugly. Just dead sexy bodylines and razor sharp edges coated in PPG white. Adding a contemporary-meets-classy touch is all of the nickel trim parts and pieces by Nashville’s Advanced Plating.
Stance is everything in the performance car game and Troy never misses the mark partly because of his alliance with Roadster Shop. RS’s B-Body FAST TRACK chassis has saved the stance of many a Mopar and Vic’s white hot wonder is no different. Rounding out the underpinnings are Wilwood big brakes at the corners, a Moser rear end center section and the crowning jewels of this mean Mopar – custom machined Greening Auto Company spindle mount 19×10 and 19×12” wheels inside Diamond Back gold line tires. The wheels took our breath away. Yours too right?
The estimated 4,200lb curb weight here is a non issue. Indy Cylinder Heads, who just happen to be hemi specialists, brewed up a wicked, bored and stroked twin-plug 426 Gen III hemi good for as much power as Vic will ever need.
When buttoned up last fall, Vic’s Dodge charged out to west to Sin City where it received industry applause as well as a much deserved Goodguys Gold Award among other accolades. It was put away before emerging at the Goodguys Nashville Nationals recently. The Goodguys Street Machine of the Year competition in Columbus this July beckons.
Looks like Vic Buraglio and his bride might have to renew their vows for another Honeymoon. Columbus is quite pleasant in July after all.