ONE of the stand-out cars unveiled at the recent Sydney Hot Rod & Custom Expo was Charlie Saliba’s meticulously restored 1971 VH Charger R/T.
“The focus was not to build the shiniest car but [to build it] how it was actually perceived on the showroom floor,” said Charlie, who took possession of his genuine R/T E83 Bathurst big tank Charger back in 1990. Originally a Hot Mustard example, it had been painted in the rare Magenta hue by its former owner and came with the original 265ci Hemi -6, triple Webers, and three-speed manual ’box.
The Charger sat idle in the shed for over 20 years before Charlie found the impetus to finally restore it when his eldest daughter, Allison, announced that she was getting married. After discovering that Allison and her hubby-to-be were planning to ride to the chapel in a Ford XY GT and a Holden Torana GTR, Charlie saw a gap in the wedding entourage for his Chrysler. And so began an intense 12-month build, with Charlie just barely making it to the church on time.
No expense was spared in order to get the car back to as-new condition, and Charlie adhered to a strict mindset, placing himself in the position of a Chrysler plant worker given access to all the best parts. Such was his commitment to this philosophy that Charlie, a spray painter by trade, did not clear-coat over the Magenta paintwork, as this was how it was done in the factory in 1971.
Charlie, who had spent the best part of six weeks prepping and polishing the Charger for its show debut in Sydney, was duly rewarded with a trophy for Top Authentic/Original.