One bought an Oldsmobile Cutlass while another purchased a Ford Mustang. Robert Meier, however, went to the Apple Motors dealership in Brenham, Texas where a 1973 Dodge Charger was on the showroom floor.
The Charger was almost what he wanted, except for the white interior and the lack of air conditioning. He was not to be denied, so Meier special-ordered the Dodge of his dreams.
A total of 119,318 Chargers were built during the 1973 model year — 45,415 hardtop coupes like the one Meier ordered.
The Charger that Meier ordered in February 1973 had a base price of $3,132. By the time the cost of the desired options were added the price of the Dodge had climbed to $4,687.45.
“I hauled hay and did everything else I could do to pay for it,” Meier recalls. As he was hustling odd jobs around town a friend telephoned to report having seen a truck full of new
Dodges drive into town and one of those cars was a yellow and black Charger.
Meier raced over to the dealership Motors to verify that his car with a black interior and a $378.45 air conditioner had arrived. He took delivery of his dream car April 2, 1973 and drove it to the service station where he filled the gas tank with 18-cent-a-gallon fuel, the going rate in those days.
Some of the accessories Meier ordered included: power brakes, undercoating, power steering, racing mirrors, 3-speed wipers, Rallye package, bumper guards, tinted windows, suregrip rear end, high-impact paint, 440-cubic-inch V-8 and underhood silencer pad.
Making the Banana Yellow appear even more yellow are the contrasting black part of the engine hood and the black half of the vinyl top covering. The upholstery and carpeting in the cabin are all black as well.
With the big Magnum V-8 churning out 280 horsepower the Dodge was no slouch. “I burned many a tire,” Meier recollects.
On their wedding day Meier and his bride drove away on their honeymoon in the Dodge. By 1979, with children expanding their family it soon became apparent that the Charger was not the ideal family vehicle. However, with only 55,000 miles on the odometer, Meier did not want to sell it or trade it. Instead he canceled the insurance and parked it.
For 27 years, Meier says, “It was always out there.”
In 2006, one of Meier’s four sons, Dustin, prodded his father into beginning a restoration project. “We stripped the car down to nothing,” Meier says. All of the vinyl was deteriorated, but the only sign of rust was in the floor pan.
When restoring a car Meier discovered it is best to have a couple of mechanically talented workers. Brothers Tommy and David were always ready to come to the rescue whenever their help was needed.
The long-dormant engine was taken down for rebuilding. The auto slapstick transmission was examined and found to be healthy. The undercoating was removed and most of the vinyl was replaced after the car was repainted. The wood-grained pieces on the dashboard and on the console are new. The dashboard itself has been replaced with one from California. Both bumpers were replated with chrome in Houston.
Meier declared the restoration complete in the early part if 2009. Meier claims that his Dodge looks better than new — and he should know. As for how he managed to keep the car for so long he says, “It worked for me.” — Vern Parker
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010