Adrian Romandini’s 528-cube Hemi-powered Dodge Charger

It may have taken six years, but Adrian Romandini's Dodge Charger is now a quintessential Hemi stomper

Photographers: Chris Thorogood


While a good chunk of Street Machine feature cars these days have been bundled off to a workshop, only to reappear a year or two later as an immaculately finished artwork, there’s certainly something to be said for giving things a go and getting your own hands dirty. For Adrian Romandini, his ultra-tough ’69 Dodge Charger is hard proof that patience, persistence and a willing attitude can pay off in spades.

First published in the October 2022 issue of Street Machine

Adrian’s decade-long journey began when he snagged the left-hook car from Just Mustangs in 2011. It was far from perfect, with a 383 between the rails, turquoise paint, and a black vinyl roof hiding its fair share of tinworm. “I’d been looking for a tough muscle car for a cruiser, and had always been drawn to the look of the ’68-69 American Chargers,” he says. “As much as I love Holdens and Fords, I wanted to buy something that was different to what everyone else had.”

Though Adrian set out to be different, there’s nothing pretentious about the build’s origins. “I took the car for a spin around the block a few times and decided to freshen it up with a quick blow-over,” he recounts. “Little did I know that it would turn into a full rotisserie, nut-and-bolt, ground-up restoration!” It was always bound to be an extended process, too, with Adrian tied up running his own cabinet-making business and raising three kids with wife Maz.

The vinyl roof had done the Charger’s turret no favours, and the rest of the car wasn’t much better, so Adrian started by stripping it down, welding in new floors and sorting out much of the sad metal, before enlisting the help of Andy McDonald of Andy’s Rust Repairs. “I tried to do as much as I could myself,” says Adrian. “The mini-tubs I did myself with guidance from the panel beater, and I fitted up the chassis connectors and he welded them in for me. This is my first-ever big project, and I learnt as I went along.”

The Charger was then sent off to KB Prestige & Restoration, where George Lyras and his team worked more magic on the panels before laying down a perfect coat of ever-popular Dodge B5 Bright Blue.

Family life never really quits, so as soon as the freshly painted Charger left the KB workshop, it was mothballed while Adrian and his clan embarked on extensive home renovations. Once that was finished in 2017, he could finally get cracking on the painstaking task of putting the car back together at home. “I carpeted the garage and had a gas line run so I could add a heater,” he laughs. “Next time, I’d mock up the car with all its components before painting it, whereas I did it all the other way round. The first scratch is always the hardest to bear!”

Rebuilding Yank metal thousands of kilometres from its home wasn’t without hurdles, as Adrian points out. “The wiper motor had to be sent back to the States to be rebuilt, as no one here in Australia could figure it out,” he says. “Waiting for parts to arrive from America was always painful.”

Given the Charger’s fresh tubs and stunning finish, the existing 383-cuber was never going to make the cut, so Adrian had Con Sagiaris of Pro Race Engines screw together a tough, 98-drinking, 528ci Hemi. Con’s well versed in big-cube aspo donks, with a brace of Mill of the Months to his name alongside his own 10-second VG streeter (SM, May ’15).

The mill is built on a World Products block, with a steel Eagle crank and H-beam rods with Diamond pistons filling out the bottom end, topped with Indy Legend 426 heads and a Pro Systems 1050 carb. “We were hoping to get around the 700hp mark, and that’s what we ended up with,” Adrian says. “I’m not one of those guys who had to have 710hp, you know? I just want to drive it and cruise it.” With that said, Adrian may not be done just yet: “Who doesn’t love a blower hanging out a bonnet?”

The rest of the driveline is an all-Mopar show. A 727 Torqueflite auto got the full reverse-pattern treatment and runs a 3800rpm converter, while a Dana 60 full-floater rear copped 35-spline axles and a Truetrac centre with 3.7:1 gearing.

The rake on show is courtesy of split monoleaf rear suspension with CalTracs, helped along by a chunky pair of 12.5-inch Mickey Thompsons. The tyre treatment already echoes Kevin Monk’s iconic Daytona, but Adrian says he would’ve gone even wider if engineering rules allowed. You’ll also find Calvert nine-way adjustable shocks under the rear, and Wilwood 11-inch discs on each corner with four-pot calipers.

Adrian turfed the black vinyl trim the Charger came with, opting instead for a gorgeous white fit-out performed by Jim Leontaris from Terry’s Motor Trimming.

It carries the same no-nonsense ethos as the rest of the car, with little more than a few extra gauges and a B&M Street Bandit shifter differentiating it from a factory set-up.

By the time Adrian unveiled the registered, fully engineered Charger at MotorEx 2022, about six years had passed since he pulled it down. “It was a great event,” he says. “I thought it would be one of those car shows where you’re standing there all day getting bored, but it was far from that. With the amount of people asking questions and saying they love the build, you talk to everyone!”

With the hard work done, there’s no sweeter feeling for Adrian than cruising the wheels off the Charger around Victoria and beyond. “There are a few little bugs to iron out as the car settles,” he says. “But it’s finally time to enjoy driving the car and meet up with like- minded friends – I’m especially looking forward to Chryslers on the Murray next year.”

Better half

It’s not easy to find a partner who shares your borderline-obsessive passion for tough metal, but Adrian has undoubtedly lucked out. His wife Maz is a proper car nut too, with a stout 347 Windsor-powered ’66 Mustang of her own (Iron Maiden, SM Yearbook ’21).

“Not only is she the car’s biggest fan, but she was also my number-one helper,” Adrian enthuses. “Maz managed all the parts ordering, particularly from the USA. I was once asked about the cost of the build, and told them the purchasing officer is keeping the receipts to herself!”

She was also front and centre on the paperwork side, handling the documents for engineering and rego. “Her attitude was amazing. I mean, there aren’t too many wives you’d find in the garage lying under your car with a headlamp on, checking for oil leaks!”


Paint: Dodge B5 Bright Blue
Type: 528ci Hemi
Induction: Pro Systems 1050
Manifold: Indy
Heads: Indy Legend 426
Valves: Manley
Cam: Bullet
Pistons: Diamond
Crank: Eagle
Conrods: Eagle H-beam
Fuel system: Tanks Inc pump
Cooling: Race Radiators, twin thermo fans
Exhaust: 3in headers, custom 3in twin system
Ignition: MSD
Gearbox: Reverse-pattern 727 Torqueflite
Converter: 3800rpm
Tailshaft: Custom GJ Drivelines
Diff: Dana 60, Truetrac, 3.7:1 gears
Front: Standard torsion bar
Rear: Split mono-leaf springs, Calvert nine-way shocks
Wilwood 11in discs, four-piston calipers (f&r)
Steering: Borgeson power steering
Rims: American Racing Magnum 500; 15×7 (f), 15×10 ®
Rubber: Falken 215/65R15 (f), Mickey Thompson, Sportsman Pro 29×12.5 ®

George Lyras at KB Prestige & Restoration; Con Sagiaris at Pro Race Engines; Jim Leontaris at Terry’s Motor Trimming; Andy McDonald; Frankie P; Jim B; Tony K; Luke Arena; my amazing wife Maz and our kids Alex, Damon and Jasmin.